Introduction & Hans Zimmer Works With Junkie XL
I've never written a review on a soundtrack before, but I did write an article on 2013's Man of Steel, the Superman reboot directed by Zack Snyder. I'm a huge Superman fan, having watched the original Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve countless times, both as a kid and as an adult.
I even watched the Superboy TV show, every episode of Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Tom Welling and his awesome performance as Clark Kent/Kal-El in Smallville, and everything in between. I was super disappointed in Superman Returns, as I expected some action in it - and it just didn't deliver. Brandon Routh did a great job as Clark Kent, but I didn't like his portrayal of Superman.
Then came the Superman reboot in the form of Man of Steel, starring Henry Cavill with '300' director Zack Snyder. It wasn't perfect, but it was quite a good movie - doing well both domestically, and internationally. It started the new DCEU (DC Extended Universe), and the result of this created Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I've watched every trailer the second they were released, every TV spot (I know, I know - I've spoiled so much of the movie, but there's so much they haven't shown us - no matter how much footage you've seen online), and even the teases of the soundtrack. Well, now the official soundtrack to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is here, and after listening to it a few times over, I'm going to provide you with my thoughts on it.
Hans Zimmer + Junkie XL Join Forces
Man of Steel's soundtrack was one of the best released, with most people agreeing that Hans Zimmer's work was just wonderful. But remember that Zimmer handled the score for the Dark Knight Trilogy, the Christopher Nolan led Batman movies - so Zimmer didn't want to double up on his work from these movies, into Batman v Superman.
Zimmer then called for the help of his good friend Junkie XL aka Tom Holkenberg to do the Batman side of the BvS soundtrack. Junkie XL did a little work on the Man of Steel soundtrack, with 'Arcade' being one of those tracks, but for Batman v Superman, Junkie XL had considerable influence. The two worked together on separate themes for not just Superman and Batman, but Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman - with each of them having a different sound, and feel. I think this is a great way to handle the soundtrack, but instead of talking about it - let's listen to it, and then break it down into the tracks themselves.
The First Half of the Batman v Superman Soundtrack
Beautiful Lie: The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice soundtrack opens with 'Beautiful Lie', with parts of the Batman theme spun through it. It feels powerful, soft, and emotive all at once - but it has the awesome build up that Zimmer is known for, too.
It starts off slow, but the eventual build up is there - and half way through 'Beautiful Lie' it begins to ramp up. It's a nice introduction into the soundtrack, with a more calm feel to it - as the rest of the soundtrack is pretty heavy at times. Beautiful Lie also ends beautifully, with a nice slide into the next song; Their War Here.
Their War Here: I would say 'Their War Here' is when we see Bruce Wayne's perspective of Superman and Zod fighting in the original Man of Steel, thus 'their war here' as in the aliens, fighting on Earth. It starts off strong and builds up through the track, where you can hear the new Batman theme teased.
But some of the themes from Man of Steel find their way into 'Their War Here', with the build up of the theme from Man of Steel at 1:20-1:40. But it's not as strong and apparent as the track was in Man of Steel, so I'm glad it wasn't just reused, but rather re-tuned for Batman v Superman.
2:40 in and you can tell that this track is quite different to the one used in Man of Steel, and I like what Zimmer does there with the tweak. I can almost feel Bruce running down the street in Metropolis while Superman and Zod are fighting in the air after they smash the Wayne Enterprises satellite in space from Man of Steel.
The Red Capes Are Coming: One of the more interesting tracks from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is 'The Red Capes Are Coming'. This track is the theme to Lex Luthor, and it sounds so very different - it's dark, twisted, and also you can feel humor through the sound.
Zimmer must've smashed on a piano while thinking in the mind of the maniac that is Luthor, and it comes out in spades in 'The Red Capes Are Coming'. It's a much slower track, and I can't wait to see it used in Batman v Superman.
Day Of The Dead: This is a huge rework of the tracks from Man of Steel. Well, it, at least, starts off that way, then it shifts into a higher gear with a huge change in the original score from Man of Steel at around the 2-minute mark.
'Day Of The Dead' is very emotional; you can feel the emotion through the track - which is something Zimmer does incredibly well with his scores.
Must There Be A Superman?: Yes, there must be a Superman - but for the track, this is where things get very different. It starts off quite heavy and continues through the rest of the track with a lot of choir work. The entire track is chaotic, and with the track called "Must There Be A Superman?" there must be a part in Batman v Superman that this track falls into, and questions the need for Superman.
I think we'll see this possibly be the part where Superman is saving people, like the scene with the flood and Superman is floating above people. But, the track goes super crazy - but in a great way - at 1:30, and really ramps up from there. To call this track interesting would be an understatement.
New Rules: 'New Rules' starts off slow, and continues slowly throughout with a bit of a bumpier ride for the latter half of the track. We have some huge hits at the end, but it flows well into 'Do You Bleed?' which is what we want.
Do You Bleed?: We all remember Batman asking Superman this in the trailers, but 'Do You Bleed?' is when the action must kick into high gear in Batman v Superman. This is where Batman and Superman have their first battle, which ends with Superman asking Batman to leave him alone - to which Batman asks Superman: "tell me, do you bleed?" and then Superman flies off, leaving Batman to say "YOU WILL".
The track, however, really amps up and continues to kick ass - building up, stabilizing, building up - and then adding in some different sounds around 1:30 in. The track continues ramping up, and then slows down right at the end - it's an awesome track, and sets the scene for the big fight between Batman and Superman.
The Second Half of the Batman v Superman Soundtrack
Problems Up Here: The same maniac sounds from 'The Red Capes Are Coming' are featured in 'Problems Up Here'. But, it's tweaked and has its own feel towards the second half of the track.
Black and Blue: This is one of my favorite tracks from the entire soundtrack, and it goes for a lengthy 8:33. I would say this is the track used during the huge fight between Batman and Superman, and at 1:00 mark you can hear the same music used in the trailers when Batman fires the gun at Superman on the rooftop, but we hear more music past that.
It totally changes at 1:00 to something that feels like Superman is affected, where I'm guessing kryptonite comes into play and Zimmer nails it with conveying that over 'Black and Blue'. This is one of the best tracks from the entire soundtrack, where you can almost feel the punches between the two heroes. The big drum pieces feel like Batman is smashing down on Superman, but it all changes at 2:30 where the Man of Steel soundtrack comes back into play.
I'd say the fight swings between Batman and Superman, with Batman ultimately 'winning'. But, Superman sounds like he has some parts of this fight as the winner - especially at 3:10, when the Man of Steel music truly takes over, for 15-20 seconds at least.
'Black and Blue' ends quite emotionally, so I'm sure that Bruce and Clark work things out in the end - well, we kind of know they do, because the Justice League is forming at this point of the movie.
Tuesday: Tuesday is a weird name for a track from Batman v Superman, but Tuesday does rhyme with Doomsday... so that would make sense. I think this is where we see Doomsday introduced, and it leads directly into the next track: 'Is She With You?' when we see Wonder Woman hit the screen.
'Tuesday' sounds very Doomsday-like with some striking parts in the song where it feels like he's erupting out of his captivity or wherever Lex has him, and into the world.
Is She With You?: This is one of the most unique songs on the soundtrack, and it sounds like this is the Wonder Woman theme - at least for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We have an awesome electric cello, Batman's huge theme, and the Superman theme right at the end for a true blend of the Trinity. It's beyond epic.
Goosebumps is how I would explain it. Blending the three themes together plays out incredibly well, making me even more excited to hear this play during the impending battle between the Trinity (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) and Doomsday... excited would be a huge understatement.
This Is My World: This track starts off with the beautiful sounds of Man of Steel, and goes through an emotional rollercoaster of sounds. By the end of the track, we could expect the Trinity to be formed, with the Justice League possibly used with 'This Is My World'.
Men Are Still Good (The Batman Suite): This track is a continuation from the work 'Must There Be A Superman?' and should hopefully lead to the huge ending that the rumors from people who have seen early screenings of Batman v Superman have hinted towards.
Highlights & Final Thoughts
If I had to choose my three highlights from the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice soundtrack, it would be 'Do You Bleed?', 'Black and Blue', and 'Is She With You?'. They're the ones that resonated with me the most - and after all, these tracks won't please everyone.
I think the re-tuned Superman theme is great, but I did want a huge track just for Superman - just like Batman got with 'Men Are Still Good (The Batman Suite)'. Wonder Woman's track with 'Is She With You' has so much energy, you can't help not love it.
I think Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL have pulled it off with the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice soundtrack. It has the right parts of Man of Steel, with a kick ass new sound for the new Batman, as well as an excellent foundation for Wonder Woman.
I loved 'Do You Bleed?' and 'Black And Blue' as they really convey the fight between Batman and Superman. But, surprisingly, I loved 'Is She With You?'. It's an awesome song with so much energy, and that electric cello is just great. It's truly great.
Overall, I'm simply pumped for Batman v Superman, with my midnight premiere tickets secured by my wife for my birthday - I'm beyond excited. The soundtrack is great, and will get countless hours of listening from me.
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