Music moves us. The power of the medium is unmistakable.
With a few familiar notes we can be transported back in time to something peaceful or horrific. A couple dah dum, dah dum, dah dum dah dums, and I’ll remember why I get anxious at the beach.
In film, music can elevate the euphoric experience of victory, or heighten the tension during a pivotal moment, or fill us with dread (the scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho comes to mind). As with other genres, the best superhero films use music to great effect in bringing us into their comic book worlds. In particular, the three main themes of DC’s big three: Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman’s theme exemplify each character and bring us to a deeper understanding of what makes them tick.
Hans Zimmer is a legend in scoring films. One glance at his repertoire of movies is enough to get excited for what awe-inspiring melodies, riffs, or symphonic delights he has in store for us. And Wonder Woman’s theme did not disappoint.
Throughout Batman v Superman, Bruce Wayne has been seeing a mysterious woman. Dinner parties, galas, museums, where there is intruigue, she is there. And so follows her music. A note here, a note there. We know there is something more to her than an art thief with a pretty face. Behind her hazel eyes lies a mind that has learned much from war and espionage. Her music in those scenes leave us wanting to know more about the mystery of her. It is exotic, calculated, and cold. She is at home in the ballroom; the art of persuasion is well-practiced with her. Yet there is something else to her. Something that wants to come out. A wildness that reveals itself in battle.
Batman has just crash landed after being shot down by Doomsday’s blast. Doomsday is about to strike again. There is no time to escape. This is the end for the Bat. Doomsday blasts; a small dark streak comes down in front of the Bat. From behind a shield emerges a woman, beautiful and strong, face prepared for battle. Quick, hollow, tribal drum beats sound, followed by a guitar riff, chaotic yet controlled. In less than a minute we are given everything we need to know about Wonder Woman. The theme song playing as she protects the Bat and fights Doomsday is much like our heroine – controlled chaos in battle. She enjoys the battle, constantly making shifts during the fight from sword to lasso to shield; she is jumping, spinning, kicking and punching, using all her skills learned in her massive repertoire of fights against monsters from “other worlds”. She is an Amazon warrior who loves the thrill, the adrenaline and rush of battle.
From far away it seems as if she is wildly fighting, darting back and forth without any thought of her next move. But, especially in her titular film, after each battle is over we see the calculated chaos in each of her moves. She moves with an otherworldly fluidity through buildings, across rooftops, and across planes of death with ease, grace, and brutality. The first time her theme plays in all its glory in Wonder Woman, she is stepping up the ladder into No Man’s Land. She leads the way with vigor and enthusiasm, which invigorates the weary Allied soldiers in the trenches.
Her theme reverberated throughout the rest of the film, and was a high point of BvS; and we’ll be watching with satisfaction as she leads the way to fight against Steppenwolf in the upcoming Justice League later this month.
Until then, we’ll be rocking out to the theme of the most powerful woman in comics.