The Marvel Cinematic Universe appears to be firing on all cylinders, that is except for one: music. Don't get me wrong, I really do enjoy a lot of the musical themes presented in many of the Marvel films. But nothing is cohesive. Do you know what Captain America's theme music is? How about Thor? One could argue that Ironman's theme music is any AC/DC song, but there wasn't a single one and Iron Man 3. There is no consistent musical theme or sound to tie characters together. Now the Guardians of the Galaxy theme music is old tunes (which I love), but will the ever changing "awesome mix" tapes provide any continuity?... especially when/if the Guardians and the Avengers team up? We will see.
This is where I think DC is starting on the right foot with their new combined universe. Having a single director who is a mastermind of themes and emotional cues will only further provide the lasting tone that persists after directors change and scripts get rewritten. Hans Zimmer understands something vital about the pairing of an instrument with an emotion. He picks an instrument or a group of instruments that best represent the desired tone and he builds an orchestra around them. In the Sherlock Holmes movies he started with an old out-of-tune piano that plays the simple quick witted melody giving scenes excitement and energy. In The Dark Knight he built the Joker's theme around a single note on a cello that slowly bends it's pitch upward creating an unbearable tension and strong distaste for the character. And in Man of Steel... DRUMS! There are numerous other examples of how he has built gorgeous pieces of music to create emotional highs and lows that complement what the actors and scenarios on screen are conveying.
But there is another element that is equally important (if not more so) to making a lasting continuity for multiple characters. It will not just be his creativity with theme creation, but also his ability to layer themes to create a symphony of emotions. I have included what I believe is the best example of his work at theme layering. You may not like the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but I simply don't think you can deny the genius of composition that is intertwined within the score. Have a listen, and pay close attention to how many directions the melodies and themes take. All the separate tones are struck while creating a whole composition that evokes the pure raw emotion of the eternal allure of the sea.
There is such a wide range of emotion and passion in these notes. I listen and I hear one theme that is proud to be a captain of a war ship, another that feels the longing to return to the sea, another that wells up with pure wonder at the vastness of a fierce and merciless ocean, and still another that is giddy like a child at the magical adventure of sailing into the unknown. That is what this man is so great at... layering thematic musical elements. And that is what he is doing right now with the Justice League. Mr. Zimmer recently said that he is working on themes for every JL member (except Batman, he is collaborating with that one) in hopes that the tunes can come together to create Voltron... hahaha Just kidding. I couldn't resist. They will create the symphony of the Justice League. Each one of the personality traits of the members will be highlighted by their own theme and then come together in a powerhouse of sound that will probably make the Interstellar soundtrack haters walk out of the theatre. But all of the DC fanboys will drown in beautiful sound and tears of joy.
I truly believe Hans Zimmer is the perfect composer to bring this ensemble of heroes together musically. He is delicate when needed and he is Violent when necessary. I personally think he knocked it out of the park with the Man of Steel soundtrack. That is probably my favorite score he has composed as of yet. I think he will be one of the elements that will make the DC Cinematic Universe stand out. What do you think?