With the release of “Batman Begins” in 2005, director Christopher Nolan reframed the series with true-crime grit.
Yet perhaps where the film took the greatest departure was in its music. Before “Batman Begins,” the franchise was marked by a grand overture created by composer Danny Elfman. “Batman Begins” instead saw a pairing of two composer heavyweights in Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. The two shied away from giving “Batman Begins” a more traditional superhero theme; there were recurring notes heard when Batman was on the screen, but they were simple, and more rhythmic in nature.
Before talking about the upcoming film “The Dark Knight,” due July 18, Zimmer said, “Everyone keeps saying, ‘When are you going to do the jolly “Batman” theme, a la the Tim Burton movies?’ It will never happen. We actually did it, and we threw it out.”
Yet some early signs show “The Dark Knight” departing at least a bit from the more subtle tones of “Batman Begins.” The theme Zimmer wrote for the Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger, is a damning piece of music. It’s an intense, eight-minute section that comes off like an orchestral interpretation of a something created by Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails. Zimmer says the work is only two notes, but the two notes are twisted and manipulated into mimicking the sounds of thunder, razors and all sorts of clatter heard in alleyways better left unexplored.
It’s all tied together by a striking blow of strings that keep it from falling apart, and Zimmer said it bears a punk influence.
-- Todd Martens