When it comes to Superman music, there is none quite as iconic as the John Williams theme. Unfortunately, Zack Snyder wasn’t allowed to touch it.
A memorable music score is one of the key aspects of a superhero film. It sets the tone of the movie and keeps fans invested while characters fly through the air destroying buildings as they go or spend time arguing over the best course of action for a villain being held captive. It intensifies the feeling of the movie and every time a fan goes back and listens to the score they’ll remember how they felt during a specific scene.
The most iconic scores are cherished by fans for years and can have an entire fandom freaking out, like when The Mandalorian theme played in The Book of Boba Fett.
I think everyone can agree that, in all the hero films that have been going around over the years, the Superman films have had some of the most iconic themes, the most notable being the score John Williams did for 1978’s Superman. With the character constantly being rebooted it makes sense that they’d want to create a theme that stays true to the character, while also supporting the tone and style of the movie and the theme created by Hans Zimmer for Man of Steel (2013) does this perfectly, but this almost wasn’t the case.
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When Man of Steel was still in the works there were a couple of fans who were adamant that William’s score should be used for the new movie and if you disagreed with them, then you “hated Superman and all that he stands for”. A bit of a harsh statement, but understandable for fans that had absolutely fallen in love with the movie that had managed to capture what some fans considered the quintessential Superman.
It was later confirmed by Jay Oliva, a storyboard artist for Man of Steel, that while both he and Snyder loved William’s theme, Warner Brothers wouldn’t actually let them use it because “they wanted something new for this Superman”. Hans Zimmer was brought on board to make this happen.
Being a fan of William’s, Zimmer was actually quite reluctant to do the score originally. It took a bit of encouragement and storytelling from Snyder for him to get into the feel of the movie and step out from underneath William’s shadow, something I believe most fans are appreciative of.
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While using William’s score would have been an ode to Christopher Reeve’s Superman and given fans plenty of nostalgia when watching Man of Steel, I believe it would have taken away from the movie completely.
While there might have been some disagreement among fans about the score originally, a lot of them enjoyed the score Zimmer provided for Man of Steel and the unique voice that it brought to the film, allowing Henry Cavill to make the role wholly his and give us the memorable performance he did as the Last Son of Krypton turned Kansas farm boy turned reporter for the Daily Planet.
John William’s music is iconic in the film industry, and any franchise planning to use him for their score will get a masterpiece worth every penny, but in the end, giving someone else a chance was the best choice that could have been made.
Zimmer was the perfect choice for bringing Superman into the 21st century.
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Tell us, did you want John Williams’ Superman theme in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel?