The Man Of Steel Theme Music Is Just As Good As John Williams' Classic Score

It's happening. Henry Cavill is back as Superman in the DCU, and a sequel to "Man of Steel" is already in early development. He made his official return known to the world with his cameo appearance in "Black Adam," which featured Cavill back in the red and blue suit. However, with the Kryptonian hero set to make his return to the forefront of the superhero genre, one lingering question remains in the back of my mind. Why is there a desire to use John Williams' "Superman" theme instead of the equally-excellent "Man of Steel" score to re-introduce Cavill's character to the world? 

I mean, don't get me wrong. Williams' seminal music defined Superman for an entire generation for a very good reason. It is an orchestral delight that is profoundly tied to Christopher Reeves' iteration of the character. But that is why I find it confusing that the "Man of Steel" score is not present in the "Black Adam" mid-credits scene when Superman appears. Instead, the sequence opts to use music from the 1978 film. It tugs at the nostalgia chords, yet lacks the personal connection Cavill's character has to the music in "Man of Steel" by Hans Zimmer. 

Many, many things can be said about the divisive film that is "Man of Steel." However, I'd be hard-pressed to find a good reason to actively dislike the musical score.

The Man of Steel has a new sound

When "Man of Steel" came out in 2013, it subverted any expectation of what a Superman movie should feel and look like. A gritty tone was borrowed from Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" trilogy to position the titular character as an alien the world actively rejected. The emphasis on realism may not have sat well with diehard fans of the long-tenured superhero, but the modern version of Superman required an update across the board. Even though Zack Snyder initially wanted to use Williams' score (according to his storyboard artist), it was Zimmer who ended up revamping the sound of Superman from the ground up.

Yet, despite the darker tone surrounding it, the "Man of Steel" theme is inherently uplifting. It is appropriately new and different while still feeling larger-than-life. Seriously, it can make anyone think they can fly. In fact, it is hard to shake the unbridled feeling of discovery the score lends to Superman's jaw-dropping first flight scene. With a score so connected to the journey of Cavill's Man of Steel, it's no surprise it was used as a leitmotif after his resurrection.

A different kind of leitmotif

In "Zack Snyder's Justice League," Superman found himself resurrected at the behest of the titular superhero team. When he is initially confronted by them, Clark Kent as we know him is not present. The score that plays is more sinister in nature as the memory-less Superman battles Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, and the Flash. But the "Man of Steel" theme makes its triumphant return when the third act arrives, just as the fight against Steppenwolf and his army seems futile.

As his theme blares in the background, Superman easily overpowers Steppenwolf and pretty much defeats him single-handedly. The music first introduced in "Man of Steel" accompanies Superman in the character's most glorious state. Recontextualized, the theme reaches the uplifting ceiling of Williams' score and sets the stage for a rebirth of Superman. Instead of calling back to an entirely different film series, "Zack Snyder's Justice League" aptly recalls the best the now-defunct Snyderverse had to offer.

'They're both extraordinary'

While recognizing the importance of the classic score, Cavill also holds his own theme close at heart. In an interview with CinemaBlend, Cavill spoke about the use of the Williams' music for "Black Adam," declaring the "Man of Steel" theme is just as good:

"But at the same time, equally so, I think Hans Zimmer's Man of Steel score was just as wonderful. I have incredibly powerful feelings about that because I remember watching the trailer, the first teasers come out, and I was sitting there with my friend and we were both so excited about it and the way the score plays. Both are incredibly powerful in their own way and both are just as iconic for the character. It was just such a pleasure to be back in the suit, whether it be John Williams or whether it be Hans Zimmer, they're both extraordinary, extraordinary artists."

Both have a place in the upper echelon of superhero music, composed by two genre-defining musicians. However, the music in "Man of Steel" should become synonymous with Cavill's Superman. Not because it is better than what William's achieved, but because it speaks to the era of new beginnings in store for Superman in the DCU. Plus, we've already seen the theme work in action as a motif for the hero.

Nevertheless, the exciting cameo in "Black Adam" will have to do for now.