Like Superman's ever-changing portrayal in his now-75 years, the music behind the character has also evolved over time -- beginning with the early animated shorts and radio programs of the 1940's, and continuing on throughout the 20th century. But since that iconic John Williams fanfare first heard in Richard Donner-directed Superman film in 1978, the soundtrack hasn't received much of an update -- until now.
Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer — renowned for his score work on The Lion King, Rain Man, and more recently Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy — is behind a completely revamped score for the latest Superman film, Man Of Steel. In an interview with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Zimmer says it's music that helps to tell a "very different version of the myth and the legend" than the one that he grew up with.
Hans Zimmer, on his comic book superhero fandom as a child:
Growing up in Germany, everything I knew about America came from Spaghetti Westerns made by Italians or reading comic books. And it was Batman and Superman who were my favorites. My parents wanted me to read Goethe and Schiller and decent literature. And I had my pile of comic books under the bed and just loved it.
On composing a Superman theme in the shadow of John Williams:
John is the master. He’s one of a handful of the great living composers that we have. I grew up with it. I’m a huge fan. It’s in my DNA somehow. He casts a large shadow.
On waiting until the very end of Man Of Steel to showcase the movie’s main musical theme:
If you think about the Dick Donner and John Williams version, they declare themselves in the first note. This is a superhero. I kept thinking, we know he’s a superhero, but wouldn’t it be interesting if we did it the other way around? How can a stranger in a strange land become part of humanity? And… for movie, the question is that there is an endless search. You have one DNA. Do you have free will to become a human, or do you have to stay a Kryptonian? As a foreigner, it’s something I’m somewhat familiar with.