The Grand Unified Thread Of Batman Music

Discussion in 'Star Wars And Film Music' started by DarthBoba, Aug 23, 2009.

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  1. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    With two successful films out and a third on the way, I figured now would be an appropriate time to start a thread that covers what's honestly a pretty massive amount of music with several different styles. Offhand, we have:

    -Batman

    -Batman Returns

    -Batman: The Animated Series & Mask Of The Phantasm

    -Batman Forever

    -Batman & Robin

    -Batman Beyond

    -Batman Begins

    -The Dark Knight

    Oof, that's alot of music. :p

    I'll attempt to start things off by grouping them into four or so major categories: Batman/Batman Returns/TAS/Mask Of The Phantasm, Batman Forever & Batman & Robin, Batman Beyond, and the Nolan movies.


    The Batman/Returns/Mask Of The Phantasm-TAS group is obviously all pretty closely interrelated, as Danny Elfman created with the original main title for TAS, which isn't that far from the main title for Batman. Mask Of The Phantasm & TAS continued the tradition, with almost wall-to-wall scoring for alot of TAS episodes that featured alot of honestly great music by Shirley Walker, who created what's probably my favorite piece of Batman music ever: The choral main title for Mask Of The Phantasm. It's absolutely gorgeous and soaring and dark, and it fits Batman just about perfectly.

    The fact that the words are the performer's names backwards just makes it that much better. :p


    Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, I have not listened to, because I absolutely detest those films. I've heard they're good, though.

    Batman Beyond took a decidedly different route and is certainly it's own thing, as it's mostly electronic music. Still definitely fits the story about a younger, new Batman in a completely different world.

    Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, well, I'm not so sure about. I think the music for Beyond fit the character rather well-he's an urban legend whose very existence is disputed-but I tend tho think that TDK, with it's overarching themes of moral relativity and monomyth-type character portrayals, sorely needs a more robust score. The quiet background music of Begins just doesn't really work well here, although I think they had the right idea for the random-esque music for the Joker.

    Discuss?
  2. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    You missed (at least) one: Neal Hefti/Nelson Riddle, and a few others, on the 60's TV show and movie. It may not be anyone's IDEAL depiction of the character, but there's no denying that the "nananananananana" theme is iconic. And for what that show is supposed to be, I think the music is excellent.

    Thoughts on the others (in reverse order):

    TDK: It's...effective. Once I get past my personal preference for melody, I can't deny that it gets the job done. The sonic experiments for the Joker work well with this shaggy version of the character. The Batman theme (and action music) is generic Media Ventures stuff, but it's the better kind: not too interesting as music, but a nice bit of noise to pump you up. The only part that I find interesting as music is the accompaniment for Harvey/Two-Face; nothing amazing, but some nice, workable melodies. That HAS to be Howard's work.

    BB: Pretty much the same as TDK, minus the Joker stuff, and instead of Dent, the melodic work comes through in the theme for Bruce's lost childhood. More generic yet solid action beats. Again, not great, but it basically gets the job done.

    BF/B&R: I know Goldenthal is a pretty respected composer, but his body of the work sounds more samey to me than James Horner's. He does a fair job with these scores (especially given the trash films he's got to work with). BF has some nice noir-y bits in the romance sections, and his basic Batman theme is a decent spiritual successor to Elfman's. What ruins these scores for me is his overuse of some very loud and annoying horn trills. They just make it impossible.

    BtAS&MotP: Agreed, the choral opening is fantastic. Walker does an amazing job of opening up the sound with a larger, more 'cinematic'-sounding orchestra, while still maintaining the distinct sound of the TV scores. Which are themselves outstanding, especially for Saturday morning cartoons. She integrated and adapted Elfman's themes so well that the show was at once perfectly believable as a continuation of the live films and free to forge its own path. Between Batman, Superman, and Animaniacs, the mid-90s were a great time for orchestral music in kids' shows.

    BR: In a lot of ways, this score (like the film itself) feels like 2 parts Batman, 1 part Edward Scissorhands. Elfman brings back the iconic Batman theme and action music, and adds some true psychosis to the mix. "Joker crazy" was fun, light Prince tunes (not that they weren't appropriate and great); "Catwoman crazy" is tortured, tragic, and sexy. Elfman's (at that point) typical mix of sturm-und-drang and acid-trip circus sounds is well-suited to Burton's even more Murnau-esque exploration of the comic hero.

    B89: Dismiss it as nostalgia if you like, but this is still THE Batman movie for me, and THE score with THE Batman theme. Some of the best action music not involving spaceships or archaeologists for a decade on either side. The Prince songs are well-incorporated, too. Just plain cool.

    B66: Like I said, perfect for the campy movie it is. So very 60s.
  3. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    I've never seen the 60s tv show, so you'll hopefully forgive me for omitting that. :p

    My favorite piece of music from the live-action movies is the Descent Into Mystery[/i[ cue from the original Batman. It's got this weirdly almost-religious air to it that's well, a descent into mystery.

    Just a great cue, right up there with The Dark Side Beckons as a favored non-main-title track from films for me.
  4. Kwenn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 30, 2001
    star 5
    Initially "The Dark Knight" really put me off, but I've since listened to parts of the score again, and it's slowly growing on me. Even "Why So Serious?", which I first thought was awful, has some interesting moments, and Harvey's theme (yeah, that was composed by Howard according to Tracksounds.com) is a welcome contrast to Zimmer's pulsing beats. It also, obviously, has a notable shift into darker territory for the Two-Face section, which I wish had been a facet of the woefully underused "Anakin's Theme."
  5. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    I'll give it a listen later.


  6. clonetrooper1 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 12, 2005
    star 4
    I have to agree that for me as well this is "The" Batman theme. I had to look at this film and Elfman's score as a part of my music tech A level, at first I wasn't really taken in by it but after looking listening to the score a few times and watching the film and seeing how the music was put to the film I felt it was perfectly done. the main theme's dark, minor and oppressive theme definitely helped draw batman away from the campy 60's batman into a more serious world yet not going to dark like the dark knight.

    Overall I think Elfman did brilliantly on it, I love how the music portrays the characters like the eerie childlike music for the joker, the bold stand out "Bat theme" and how even the music from prince reflects on the events in the film, ("trust" a good example on how the joker gains the public's trust only to betray them). although the only downside is that most of the score is heavily based around the same motif but the variations of it still keep it fresh.

    I've recently brought Batman Returns and the score and I'm really enjoying it.

    Bit of a rant but all my take on it :p
  7. Gamer_4_life Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Nov 16, 2009
    star 1

    Hooray!! Let me go get my copy...
  8. Drac39 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 9, 2002
    star 6
    It's hard for me to say which is the best theme for Batman. I really like Elliot Goldenthal's Batman Forever score, but Elfman's Batman theme is probably his most iconic. As for the Nolan scores, well they work really well in the films but I can't really listen to them for too lon g out side of them. I think The Dark Knight had a great score in accompanying the film
  9. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    One of the things I love most about Batman is that there has been such a wide variety of interpretations of the character over the years, so there is not a single definitive version of the character.

    Thus while I consider the Elfman theme to be better musically than the 60s one, I appreciate them BOTH because they both serve their respective versions of the character quite well.
  10. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Yeah, the various themes have typically suited the varied interpretations of the character, evne including the Batman Begins main theme. At least, I think so, as Batman in the new films is much more of an urban legend than he is with Burton. No Bat-wing for this guy. :p
  11. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    "That ain't what I heard at all. I heard that the Bat got him."

    "Five stories, straight down. Wasn't no blood!"

    "WHAT are you?!"

    "They say he can't be killed. They say he drinks blood."

    [face_whistling]
  12. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    And by the end of the same movie he's doing....strafing runs with a bat-shaped jet armed with antitank missiles and a multibarrel cannon against the Joker's gang, presumably in plain sight of anybody with a set of functioning eyeballs.

    I'd say any urban legend aspect pretty much died with that. It's like citizens of Dresden wondering if the RAF actually existed. :p
  13. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    I'd say cruising around in a tank and crashing an elevated train into one of the city's most prominent buildings had much the same effect.
  14. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    I supppose we could take this to the Batman thread in Amp.... :p

    Anyway, anyone else hoping that we get a more symphonic score next film? I felt the quiet score to BB was quite appropriate, but TDK's storyline and overarching themes of heroism & villainry cry out for a more complex score, IMO
  15. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    Yeah, I seem to remember when BB came out Zimmer or Howard said that the two-note Batman "theme" in the film was supposed to expand to a legitimate melody in the sequel.
  16. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Yeah I remember that myself.
  17. Darth_Furio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2008
    star 7
    Elfman's theme from "Batman" was my favorite. I also really liked the music from when Bruce remembers his father and past in "Batman Begins." The opening music during the bank heist in TDK is great as well, it really keeps your heart pounding to the beat of it and what is going on in the scene.

    The Music score from "Batman Forever" was annoying as was the actual film itself. I didn't even bother watching "Batman and Robin" :rolleyes:
  18. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2001
    star 9
    Not sure if you guys know this, but there's this over at La La Land Records.
  19. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
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