The Symphonic DCEU: The Brutal Precision of The Bat of Gotham

The Batman is brutal; he always has been, and I suspect he always will be. It’s engrained in his character. He is an embodiment of fear. He makes normal criminals think twice before engaging in nefarious activities for fear of being caught by the Caped Crusader (they always were a superstitious, cowardly lot). No matter which version, film, television, or source material, Batman has always fought with a fierce brutality hell-bent on cleaning his city, protecting its citizens from suffering through the same tragedy he endured as a child. Throughout the several iterations, Batman’s theme has always evoked a sense of the night, of fear. Even in the spectacular Batman: The Animated Series and Tim Burton’s Batman there is a sense of fear, though not so much on his brutality. (An aside and plea to Danny Elfman: Yes, your Batman theme was great and it fit Tim Burton’s vision of Batman, but please, please, please, I implore, beg, come into parlay with you, and any other way you might hear me, do not perform a simple copy and paste job for this Batman. It does not fit with the DCEU’s version of Batman. What I would love to hear is the two blended, as Zimmer’s and John Williams’s Superman scores will be. Blend the two and make something new.)

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At the beginning of the film his theme more resembles a demon carrying villains to Hell than Batman bringing justice.

All right. You still here? I’m done digressing. Still reading, Batfans? We’re back on the same Bat-time (whenever yours is) same Bat-channel (er- website).

Batman’s theme in the DCEU fits him. He doles out justice but he’s never out of control. Whereas Wonder Woman’s theme is controlled chaos, Batman’s is controlled brutality. Most of the notes are loud and boisterous, but also short and precise. Highlighted in his battles, especially the aforementioned Warehouse scene, Batman does not exert more than necessary when exacting vengeance on wrongdoers. The opening notes are a string of loud notes, which shock and awe our eardrums, as does his entrance to the warehouse. Shock and awe. Precise.

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But first, we hear hints of his theme in his initial appearance in BvS when two cops stumble upon his work saving people from human traffickers. The long violin note is held, building suspense until the Bat is revealed then quickly exits the house, leaving behind his mark on the human trafficker. When the cops see the Bat signal branded into the trafficker’s shoulder, his theme begins to take shape. It is haunting, raw, and showcases the fear the Bat brings not only into the hearts of criminals, but by the looks of the cops and people he saves, also into theirs as well. The Bat is back, and he is brutal. His theme has all the makings for a Batman tormented by the demons of his past.

His DCEU theme also showcases the gothic nature of Batman when, perched atop a construction crane overlooking Lex Luthor’s henchmen at Gotham Harbor, his theme is played once more, except this time accompanied by a choir. The haunting vocals accompanying and accentuating the orchestra as it plays his dark theme never fails to send chills down my spine. He is as one of the stone Gargoyles he often perches upon in the comics, waiting for the right time to strike his unsuspecting foes.

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That music left him floored.

We see it all come to a head in the beautifully choreographed fight in the warehouse. His years of torment, his brutality against criminals, and his efficient moves and strokes are wonderfully shown through his actions and the soundtrack undergirding that scene. Once again it begins with the tension of the track as the henchmen watch the elevator, only for the Bat to come bursting from beneath. The notes evoke a darkness in the Bat, which he unleashes when he fights. All his rage, his anger, his sorrow is unleashed with deadly, concussive precision; and the music follows suit. No note is errant our out of place. It fits this Bat.

What I am looking forward to, is how his theme will be added upon now that Superman’s sacrifice redeemed him in a sense, back to his former self as Batman. We’ll get to find out what Elfman did to further one of the most iconic character’s music here shortly. Here’s hoping he keeps some of the brutality of the BvS theme and adds his sweeping orchestra of the 1989 theme for a fuller, richer theme that fits a Bat now redeemed.

If you liked this, take a look at our look into Wonder Woman and how she is musically represented in the DCEU.

About Joseph Hamrick

Hello, my name is Joseph Hamrick. I enjoy reading stories I find, which provoke thoughtfulness and introspection. I am a Christian, so most of my writing and thinking comes from a theological perspective. I am currently engaged to Jesse Berden, and will Lord-willing be able to call her my wife (and subsequently update this profile) on March 23. I love contemplating on the moral, philosophical, and theological aspects of what I read and watch. I keep a weekly column, "Something to Consider," for the Greenville Herald-Banner. Along with that, I write on a regular basis at www.servantsofgrace.org.
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