Many of us were saddened by the news that Hans Zimmer delivered late last week, where he stated that he is quitting scoring the music for superhero movies.
Undeniably the biggest and most active personality in movie scoring at the moment, Zimmer remains the only composer to tackle the three biggest heroes: Batman, Superman and Spider-Man.
Though overlooked, film music is highly important to creating the identity of a movie. Hans Zimmer's absence will undoubtedly be felt by fans, and especially by Warner Bros with its fledgling movie universe. Even though they have only of Man of Steel (2013) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) in the roster so far, Zimmer has been instrumental in crafting the epic and brooding musical tone of the franchise.
I’ve argued previously that shared universes would really benefit from a defining musical signature. So, who could take over as the supreme scorer for superhero movies?
Who could Warner Bros look to, to continue to define the music of their new universe?
Here’s a list of the candidates that they should consider with an example of their work, in no particular order:
1. Murray Gold
You may not have heard of Murray Gold, and it’s unlikely that he would be picked by Warner Bros. So you may be asking: why he is on this list? Fans of the BBC’s Doctor Who will know his name, since he has been scoring the show since its revival in 2005, and though he didn’t create the iconic main theme, he has become popular online for the distinct flavours and tones that he applies to each of its many characters and adapting to the changes that the show has undergone.
Ably demonstrating that he can capably score for both zany and serious scenes, I’m amazed that he hasn’t gone into big blockbuster territory before now, and if he ever did, I’m sure he could become a force to be reckoned with. Any major studio with eyes for adapting superheroes should consider him to score their work.
2. Junkie XL/ Tom Holkenborg
In the space of one entry, we have gone from the most improbable to the probable of replacements for Zimmer. Indeed Holkenborg was responsible for or the soundtrack in Deadpool (2016)! Not only content with this, he also collaborated with Zimmer on the scores for Dawn of Justice and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). Though it’s hard to ascertain how much he has influenced these soundtracks, it would seem that he certainly has the same ear for bombast as his work partner, and due to his familiarity with superheroes, a return to the DCEU would therefore not be too irregular. I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw his name in the credits of Justice League Part 1 (2017)...
3. Henry Jackman
Jackman is perhaps the more advanced version of Holkenborg (career-wise), for he too was a protégé of Hans Zimmer, but he has since been forging his own path by composing for a whole range of movies, from Kick Ass (2010) to Wreck-it-Ralph (2012) as well as Captain Phillips (2013). Like Junkie XL, he’s been around superheroes before, with his work on X-Men: First Class (2011) being well received by critics and fans; his contemporary feel would sit well with modern heroes, although with his work on Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014) and the upcoming Civil War (2016), it would seem that he’s already been drafted into the Marvel camp.
4. James Newton Howard
A more traditional yet fluid composer, Newton Howard has also worked with Zimmer on the majority of The Dark Knight Trilogy, but he is an established composer in his own right, with a good sense of how to generate thrills and emotion, which his substantial resume emphasises. Any superhero movie with Newton Howard as its composer is not to be sniffed at, and it would be interesting to hear his own take on Batman, if he got to score Ben Affleck's solo outing that is.
5. John Powell
Often overlooked, this British composer has served up the music for various successful franchises such as the Jason Bourne movies and the How To Train Your Dragon Series; plus, he too is no stranger to superhero movies, since he provided a rousing score for X:Men: The Last Stand (2006). His refined command of the orchestra ensures that he would bring a thrilling epicness to any hero that he composed for. He would be excellent for Wonder Woman (2017).
6. Michael Giacchino
An established name, and one of the most popular composers out there today, Giacchino is a musical chameleon, able to craft an amazing score for any movie. Don’t believe me? Simply listen to his work on the various Pixar movies that he was won awards for, his music on JJ Abrams’s Star Trek movies or for his excellent substitute for John Williams in Jurassic World (2015). Indeed, he's been labelled as Williams's heir apparent in some corners.
However if any studio wants him for their superheroes, they better be quick! With his close working relationship with Abrams, he’s well placed to take over from John Williams as composer for the Star Wars movies... (this isn’t to say that I disapprove though!) And even though we’re talking about DC here, he would be perfect for the upcoming Spider-Man reboot.