The Batman Trailer Reveals Just How Important A Proper Musical Score Is For A Superhero

The new "The Batman" trailer is here, and folks, it's pretty damn good. Matt Reeves seems to be going for something here that blends the "realism" of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy with a more fanciful, comic book vibe, and I dig it. I dig the look, I dig the cast, I dig Robert Pattinson's cold-seeming Batman. And, perhaps most of all, I dig the big, loud, booming bit of score we hear from composer Michael Giacchino. It's loud and operatic; it almost sounds like music you'd hear echoing off the high walls of a grand cathedral. And even though it's only a brief snippet of music, it underscores the fact that modern superhero movie scores kind of suck – and it would be nice if Giacchino's work changes that. 

What Ever Happened To Good Superhero Movie Music?

Even completely tone-deaf people can likely hum Danny Elfman's now-iconic "Batman" theme. The same goes for John Williams' heroic theme for "Superman." These are moody, sweeping soundscapes that instantly invoke a mood. Elfman's ominous, gothic tones fit perfectly with Tim Burton's shadowy visuals, and Williams' triumphant melody makes us believe a man can fly. But at some point, as superhero and comic book movies became more and more prevalent, to the point of oversaturation, their musical scores dropped off in quality. 

think I might be able to hum Alan Silvestri's "Avengers" theme, but I'm not positive. Beyond that, I can't even begin to recall the music for the plethora of other Marvel Cinematic Universe films. They all blend together, sounding virtually the same as they recycle motifs and beats that don't add much to the scene other than background noise. The music from Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy fares somewhat better – particularly Hans Zimmer's pulse-pounding "The Dark Knight Rises" score. And while I didn't care for "Man of Steel," I did love Zimmer's music for that movie.  But these examples seem to be the exception, not the rule.

But why? These are big, spectacle-filled movies – shouldn't they have memorable music to match? Shouldn't they give us theme music that burns itself into our brains, to the point where if we hear it years later we immediately recognize it? I would think so, but Hollywood apparently doesn't agree with me. But maybe, just maybe, we're on the cusp of change. Or maybe that's wishful thinking. 

The Batman Score

I should mention before we go any further that some of the un-memorable Marvel themes come from "The Batman" composer, Michael Giacchino. Giacchino is responsible for the Marvel Studios fanfare that plays over the opening Marvel logo, and I'll admit that's pretty memorable. But he's also responsible for the scores for "Doctor Strange," "Spider-Man: Homecoming," and "Spider-Man: Far From Home" – and not one of those movie soundtracks is very noteworthy. 

But Giacchino has the right stuff. Many of his scores, particularly his work with Pixar, is damn great. And now he's bringing his skills to "The Batman." The snippet of theme we hear at the end of the trailer has made its way online before – Giacchino shared it himself on social media. But hearing the music coupled with the imagery from the film takes it to a whole other level. Hearing that loud, somewhat ominous music blasting as Batman slowly walks towards an incapacitated Penguin is a chill-inducing moment. It also reminds me somewhat of Shirley Walker's fantastic music for "Batman: The Animated Series." 

Most of all, "The Batman" music heard in the new trailer serves as a great reminder of how powerful a great score can be; how it can take a scene and elevate it to a whole other level. I know this is only a small slice of Giacchino's score, but if the rest is anything like this, it's going to be something special. And I can't wait to hear it.

"The Batman" opens on March 4, 2022.