Composer Hans Zimmer Talks Theme Music For Nolan, Batman – and Superman?

Hans Zimmer has not been commissioned by Christopher Nolan to develop a score for the director’s third Batman movie. Not this week, anyway.

“He was going to come over next week,” chuckled Zimmer. “We start early. I know he's puttering around with ideas, and we sort of sneak up on things.”

Zimmer – who was awarded the Hollywood Film Composer Award for his work on Nolan’s film “Inception” at this week’s 14th Annual Hollywood Awards – is one of the industry’s most prolific score-maestros, and his moody, mysterioso and avant garde collaborations with James Newton Howard on the soundtracks for “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” have struck a chord with lovers of superhero cinema in particular. And the composer credits Nolan for creating an environment where Zimmer can break free from typical movie score convention.

“Working with Chris, he gives me all the freedom in the world and encourages me to go and be daring and unusual and crazy and all those sorts of things and be able to be the sort of emotional center of the film,” he told PopcornBiz. “It's very give and take. I'll start long before he starts shooting. Our conversations start there and it goes both ways: we just have conversations about the movie and less about what the music has to do, and it really comes out of that, whereby I felt that there was a real emotional core to be had and that that was something that the music had to do and I hung on that for dear life.”

Given that Nolan is also overseeing the development of a renewed revival of “Superman” helmed by Zack Snyder, Popcorn Biz had to ask Zimmer’s opinion on a burning question, whether he works on that film or not: do you re-employ John Williams’ theme for the Man of Steel, one of the most lauded scores in film history, or do you start anew with a fresh, fully original score?

“It's a hard one,” mused Zimmer, “but I followed one of the most iconic things on 'Batman' with Chris as well, and it's the same thing. You are allowed to reinvent, but you have to try to be as good or at least as iconic and it has to resonate and it has to become a part of the zeitgeist. That's the job. On 'Gladiator' I remember people always talking about 'Spartacus' and I kept telling them, 'When you saw "Spartacus" and how it affected it you, that's how I want a modern audience to be affected by what we do now.' So I think ultimately you're supposed to reinvent.”

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