The CW's highly successful #Arrowverse is a true superhero juggernaut with four shows — #Arrow, #TheFlash, #Supergirl and #LegendsOfTomorrow — featuring a vast number of characters, each with the capability to cross over with one another. This had never been attempted before, but it has certainly worked out for the best.
This is greatly assisted by the shows all sharing the same production team behind the scenes (which isn't the case with the DCEU). One such shared element could be overlooked fairly easily, even though you'll have definitely subconsciously noticed. He's the first name we see on the credits, the Arrowverse's unsung hero...
Meet Composer Blake Neely
Blake Neely is a composer who has worked on a vast number of films and TV series over the years. Examples of his work include being the main composer on Everwood and The Mentalist, and providing additional music for the Pirates of the Caribbean series and The Last Samurai. He was nominated for an Emmy in 2003 for the main theme from Everwood, and since then he has gone on to work on a wide variety of shows.
Due to his frequent collaboration with the Arrowverse supremo, Greg Berlanti, he was asked to create the score for Arrow — and the rest, as they say, is history. As the universe expanded, so did Neely's responsibilities.
Scoring the Arrowverse
Greg Berlanti enlisted his faithful composer when he began work on Arrow, and Neely set about creating the musical style for the show. Berlanti told Neely that Arrow would be dark and the music should reflect this. The end result is a combination of both electronic and orchestral scores.
Of course, each character had their own theme, as did certain elements of the show; Laurel and Oliver had a romantic theme for instance.
Because each show in the Arrowverse has its own style and tone, the music must also reflect this. After creating a theme for Barry Allen's introduction in Arrow Season 2's "The Scientist," Neely was tasked with creating the music for The Flash. His only directive was to make something different from Arrow, but something that would fit in to the wider style of the shows.
This is shown perfectly during the first crossover of the two shows:
Since Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl joined the Arrowverse, Neely has been tasked with creating their soundtracks as well. Legends of Tomorrow was arguably slightly easier as all of the characters existed in the Arrowverse before. Ray Palmer's ATOM had his own theme that was introduced in Arrow Season 3, for example, and Sara Lance had appeared since Season 2.
Supergirl successfully created a new theme for the character, which has seamlessly been worked into her appearances in the Invasion! crossover.
Why Does it Work So Well?
The fact that the same guy does each show allows for a greater synergy between the music. If we take the crossovers, for example, each hero's individual leitmotif has been incorporated into one another.
World's Finest, the crossover of Supergirl and The Flash, demonstrates this really well. When Kara is sent flying out of the window by the Silver Banshee, Barry conveniently appears through a breach and rescues her. All the while the music features the hasty violins we have become accustomed to in his own show.
Blake Neely has successfully created iconic themes for the iconic characters in each show. He was even tasked with writing a theme for Superman's appearance in the first two episodes of Supergirl Season Two, and if you've heard John Williams' theme (come on, who hasn't?) this was no mean feat. However, he was successfully able to create a theme for the character that fit in with this version of the Man of Steel.
Good Music Can Impact a Scene
With all of the characters in the Arrowverse, Blake Neely has plenty of work to do. The incidental music can be easily missed, but an appropriate score can vastly improve a scene's impact.
Just watch the scene when Slade kills Oliver's mother...and listen to the score. The understated music adds to the gravitas of the scene as Slade delivers a soliloquy explaining his desire to show Oliver true despair. The music certainly adds this sense to the scene.
The Reverse Flash's theme is a particularly effective theme, it features a constant flapping sound mirroring the sound when he kills Barry's mother. Fittingly, it is almost like Barry's own theme in reverse, and throughout all of his appearances we hear this flapping sound, giving a sense of the threat he poses.
Proper music can greatly improve a scene; as a result, a good composer is vital. In Blake Neely, the Arrowverse is in safe hands. Hopefully, we will continue to see the seamless crossover of the music across all of the shows and maybe one day these theme tunes shall be as iconic as the John Williams' Superman theme.
Is Blake Neely the unsung hero of the Arrowverse? What's your favorite CW character theme? Let me know in the comments!