The DC Extended Universe owes a lot to its soundtracks, especially those composed by the one and only Hans Zimmer and his collaborators such as Junkie XL and Rupert Gregson-Williams.
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Man of Steel
Hans Zimmer's work on Man of Steel is yet another notch on his baton of epic film scores, focusing on slow epic build-ups with ultra-tense drumming (almost a dozen drum sets were used).
- The epic build up then bombastic fanfare of "What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World?" awakens the viewer/listener's inner superhero like no other.
- Other highlights include "Look to the Stars" (played at the start of the film during Kal-El's birth) and "Flight" (when Clark flies for the first time) and "Terraforming".
- "Hans' Original Sketchbook", a majestic and epic 28 minutes-long track from the soundtrack's deluxe edition.
- "Flight", the score that plays in the background when Superman uses his flying powers for the first time, is amazing and completely conveys the sheer epicness of the scene.
- From 7:53 onwards, "Terraforming" contains one single note that keeps rising in pitch towards the heavens. It perfectly encapsulates the rise of one of the most iconic superheroes and his status as the protector of Earth.
- The Comic-Con trailer used "Journey to the Line" from Zimmer's The Thin Red Line score to majestic effect.
- The increasingly epic music from the third trailer. It's the cut version of the track "What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving the World?"
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
The soundtrack of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was co-developed by Zimmer and Tom Holkenborg (also known as Junkie XL), the man behind the acclaimed Mad Max: Fury Road soundtrack. The result of these two composers coming together is nothing short of massive and jaw-dropping.
- "Is She With You" serves as Wonder Woman's theme and Leitmotif. Used brilliantly during her introduction in costume, in which she saves Batman by deflecting a blast from Doomsday with her bracers, showing her in her classic pose.
- "Do You Bleed?" plays over the Batmobile chase scene, and it is intense.
- "Day of the Dead" beautifully reprises theme from Man of Steel when Superman uses his powers to help humanity and is perceived as a god/messianic figure, then becomes more of a Tear Jerker as some journalists and politicians express doubts about his actions and motivations.
- "Beautiful Lie", which plays after Bruce holds the girl in the wreckage of the building and through the movie's first flashback to the death of the Waynes and their funeral, captures the loss that Bruce felt as his parents died. It also showcases Batman's leitmotif: DUUUUN, DUN, DUN, DUN, DUUUUUN, DUUUUUUUN.
- "The Red Capes Are Coming" definitely captures Lex Luthor's sense of menace. It also happens to be an inversion of Superman's theme.
- "Black and Blue" captures the epicness of the battle between Superman and Batman, and even features a reprise of "Beautiful Lie" during the part where Clark asks Bruce to save his mother and Bruce flashes back to the night his parents died.
- "Fight Night" plays during Batman's assault on Anatoly Knyazev's warehouse to rescue Martha Kent from Luthor's clutches. It perfectly underscores the violence, bruality and action of the fight.
- "This Is My World" is a 6-minute long Tear Jerker, starting and ending with elegiac and sorrowfully triumphant reminiscences of Man of Steel, as Superman tells Lois she "is his world" and sacrifices himself to kill Doomsday, then lays dead with Wonder Woman, Batman, and a crying Lois surrounding him.
- "Men Are Still Good (The Batman Suite)," which plays over Bruce's monologue at the end, is a beautiful reprise of "Look to the Stars" from Man of Steel, illustrating Bruce's change of heart and conveying the idea that the ideals that Kal-El strived for live on in the face of his death.
- The first teaser's music powerfully builds up the tension that will lead to the showdown between Batman and Superman.
- "None Shall Live" (by Two Steps From Hell) from the Ultimate Edition trailer is a truly epic piece. This was reused for the first trailer for Aquaman (2018).
Suicide Squad's soundtrack includes a number of classic songs and original songs, and the official score by Steven Price is no slouch either.
- The first mainstream single from the soundtrack, Sucker for Pain, features a very mood-fitting catchy chorus by Imagine Dragons and a great final verse by Lil Wayne. It also features a pretty solid well-known line-up, with Wiz Khalifa, X Ambassadors, Ty Dolla $ign, and Logic trading verses.
- Task Force X was the first posted on WaterTower Music's YouTube channel, and it is glorious.
- AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" is very fitting for an Awesome Aussie robbing a bank like Captain Boomerang. Even though he gets his ass handed to him in a matter of seconds by the Flash.
- The team's Lock-and-Load Montage as they gear up for their mission is set to Eminem's "Without Me".
- While the entire soundtrack is generally considered good, there's two major stand-outs:
- "Heathens" by Twenty One Pilots captures how the Squad feels about Belle Reve and their lot in life. Raon Lee's cover of "Heathens" is on par with the original.
- And, while general consensus is it's not as good as the original, P!ATD's cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" has earned some high marks too.
- The film's second trailer is beautifully cut around Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" (which is also reprised at the end of the film).
For Wonder Woman, Rupert Gregson-Williams built on her leitmotif from Batman v. Superman and shaped something mystical, adventurous and very epic.
- "No Man's Land" gloriously plays when Diana ventures into the No Man's Land and helps liberate a village. It smoothly integrates Wonder Woman's leitmotif to top it all.
- "The God of War" is all you need for a classic-sounding villainous presence and an epic Final Battle.
- "Lightning Strikes". The calmness of the beginning ramping up into full-blown badassery exemplifies Diana's Unflinching Walk against her final showdown with Ares, culminating in one intense reiteration of her theme.
- The end credits' art is a treat, and the track that goes with it, "Action Reaction," is mighty.
- Original to the movie, Sia's "To Be Human" feat. Labrinth is a beautiful song played over the credits that expresses and explores her reluctance to give in to being human and just love, "even when it gets too much."
- The Comic Con trailer's first music is haunting, a perfect fit to accompany a graceful mythical Amazon who's thrown into the death machine that was the first World War.
- The Wonder Woman theme introduced in Batman v Superman is given a wonderful and welcome reprise at the end of each trailer.
- Imagine Dragons' "Warriors" is very fitting for Diana's kickassery in the trailers.
Junkie XL was replaced by Danny Elfman for Justice League.
- The White Stripes' "Icky Thump" (used in the very first trailer then in the movie) perfectly conveys how badass Aquaman is, downing a bottle of rum then letting himself be engulfed by the sea.
- At the beginning of the film, Sigrid's cover of the Leonard Cohen song "Everybody Knows" beautifully captures the mood of a world that feels lost without Superman.
- Elfman didn't reprise most of Hans Zimmer's works. However, the first notes of the familiar theme of Krypton, "Look to the Stars", can still be heard when the League enters the genesis chamber of the Kryptonian ship to revive Superman. Zimmer's themes are heard in two deleted scenes, namely the one where Clark comes back to the Kryptonian scout ship and finds two suits there (a Kryptonian space suit and the black Kryptonian skinsuit) and the one where he meets Alfred Pennyworth for the first time. In both scenes, Zimmer's music beautifully harkens back to Man of Steel to highlight Superman's rebirth and the hope that comes with it.
- Just like the title, "Hero's Theme" is a very heroic-sounding track, fitting for the greatest superhero team in the world.
- "Justice League United" is an epic, triumphant track.
- "The Story of Steppenwolf" plays during the "History Lesson" sequence. It starts with very ominous-sounding orchestral music with angelic choir, leading to a bombastic climax before slowing down to a sad ending, very fitting for Steppenwolf's story.
- "Home" is one of the few calmer tracks in the film, with the same vibe as Elfman's Big Fish theme.
- "Batman on the Roof" is awesomely ominous, with subtle hints of Hans Zimmer's two-note The Dark Knight motif and Elfman's own iconic theme.
- "The Final Battle" reprises the 1989 Batman theme and seamlessly integrates the John Williams Superman theme for the big turning point. It also has elements of the themes from Batman: The Animated Series and The Flash (1990), with even a bit of The Flash (2014) mixed in.
- The intro to "Anti-Hero's Theme" sounds VERY similar to the "Launch" cue from Man of Steel, before turning into a best-of suite that compiles a lot of motifs from the film, including Steppenwolf, The Flash, a portion Hero's Theme, and ends with a reprise of Elfman's Batman theme.
- The use of the The White Stripes' "Icky Thump" in the 2016 Comic-Con footage is a good fit for Bruce Wayne's quest to gather the Justice League, as it conveys the optimistic turn after the tragic events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
- The first full trailer uses a rocking cover of The Beatles' "Come Together" by Gary Clark Jr. and Junkie XL, to great effect. The SDCC trailer starts with snippets of it, and the full song was released in September 2017, and it plays over the end credits.
- The second trailer from the 2017 SDCC uses (the as-of-yet unreleased) "Alpha Team" by Joseph Bauer, mixing more intense versions of "Beautiful Lie" and "What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World?" together. The saddest score that's associated with Batman and the most uplifting score that's associated with Superman are reworked to sound similar, showing that the former foes will now be Fire-Forged Friends upon reuniting.
- The final trailer starts with the familiar piano notes of "What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving The World?" (Superman's theme) when Lois dreams of Clark, then uses a beautiful cover of David Bowie's "Heroes" by Gang of Youths to highlight the team's heroism.
Rupert Gregson-Williams returned for Aquaman after Wonder Woman for a result every bit as epic as the latter.
- "Arthur" is Aquaman's own leitmotif, with equal parts regal and cool. The horns give way to the main melody, while the synths emulate the waves and, along with the guitar accents, make it clear this version of the character is the epitome of everything Aquaman has ever been over the years.
- "The Black Manta" is as ominous and awesome as a villain's Dynamic Entry can be.
- Queen Atlanna and Thomas Curry's romance is accompanied by the dreamlike Sigur Rós track "Sæglópur". The song's title is roughly translated to "lost at sea".
- "Everything I Need", which plays over the first part of the end credits, mixes Skylar Grey's ethereal vocals with pounding drums to peaceful and oddly calming effect.
- Charlie Clouser's (sadly unreleased) remix of "It's No Good" is the perfect backing to the construction of the Black Manta suit.
- The theme used in the Black Manta ambush fight, both times where Mera uses her powers to escape and to overpower her enemies. The guitars mixed with the One-Woman Wail adds to her allure, and to her power, in the moment. Officially labeled "Mera Montage" on the deluxe album.
- "None Shall Live" by Two Steps from Hell, previously used in two especially heroic scenes from Trollhunters, makes a welcome return in the trailer.
- Ghostwriter Music's "Sidewinder", used in the final trailer, embraces the premise of an epic and splashy underwater adventure, and the epic choir part in the last 20 seconds send shivers down the spine.
To complement the Genre Throwback nature of SHAZAM!, Benjamin Wallfisch gave the movie an old-school, bombastic score deliberately patterned after 70s and 80s classics.
- The very first trailer gives us a kickass remix of "HUMBLE" as Billy/Shazam tests his newfound powers.
- The main theme gives off a true superhero vibe, like the classic John Williams Superman theme. Listen to that brass, those woodwinds. Truly inspiring. When a certain cameo happens at the end of the movie, that very leitmotif accompanies it, similarly to Justice League.
- The actual scene of Billy/Shazam testing out his powers is done to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now", and it's very fitting.
- The closing credits' music is "I Don't Want To Grow Up" by The Ramones. It fits the subject to a T.
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Much like for Suicide Squad, a whole album of kickass songs, this time by a bunch of female singers, has been put together for Birds of Prey.
- Charlotte Lawrence's "Joke's On You" plays at the beginning of the movie where Harley is blowing up Ace Chemicals and separating herself from the Joker. The lyrics basically tell us all that she is utterly sick of being used and abused by the Joker.
- Doja Cat's "Boss Bitch" is just plain ol' fun and flows like fire, also matching Harley's overall badassery.
- Halsey's "Experiment on Me" is a rocking song that many enjoy, especially when she belts out towards the end.
- Jurnee Smollett-Bell herself showing off her singing talents with a reprise of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World".
- Megan Thee Stallion and Normani's version of "Diamonds" is an interesting take on the original song that highlights the crazy and childishly fun side of Harley. Bonus points for the gorgeous music video that blends clips from the movie seamlessly with clips of the singers, as well as featuring visually stunning, movie-worthy sets (e.g. Megan Thee Stallion playing whack-a-mole with Joker heads).
- Similar to Diamonds, Saweetie and newcomer GALXARA covers on the melody/cover of Dean Martin's 'Sway' with "Sway with Me" that carries on the Latino Pop elements and highlights the mischief of Harley and Cassandra. The song is enjoyable for GALXARA belting out high vocals.
- The haunting reprise of Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by ADONA beautifully sets up the climax.
- "Harley Quinn (Danger Danger)" is a Rage Against the Machine-esque instrumental that plays during her assault on the police station. The instrumental was also used for a song on the album, but by itself? It's bad. Ass.
- If "Danger Danger" is her kickass theme, then "The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn" is Harley's sad theme for the movie, seemingly a take-off of the "You Don't Own Me" cover from Suicide Squad that takes up a chunk of the score album.
- The theme for the Birds of Prey themselves is played throughout the movie, with its melody cooed through important moments. It all comes together for their self-titled song, which plays as Harley and the Birds work together to fight off Black Mask's army. If you thought bird cooing couldn't be awesome... think again.
Wonder Woman 1984
Hans Zimmer came back for Wonder Woman 1984.
- The majestic "Themyscira" for the Amazons' games, which uses small cues from Diana's theme.
- "Open Road" is exciting as hell because it's the triumphant return of "Is She With You?".
- Who could have guessed that "Beautiful Lie" - a track that's associated with Bruce Wayne - would get a reprise in a Wonder Woman sequel? Extra awesome is that it's played against Diana's heroic speech, in which she points out that while lies can be beautiful, so can truth. It's one-upped by "The Beauty In What Is", with the One-Woman Wail at 1:41 dramatically conveying Maxwell Lord's growing realization towards the effects of his wish-making; namely, that it's putting his son in danger.
- "Already Gone" is a beautiful, heartbreaking piece underscoring Diana's recanting of her wish and Steve's second death, which then (in the film) leads into Hans Zimmer's remix of John Murphy's "Adagio in D Minor" as Diana takes flight for the first time.
- For the first trailer, if Sebastian Böhm's gorgeous and butt-kicking remix of New Order's "Blue Monday" doesn't put you in the mood for an adventure in The '80s, then nothing can.
- The second trailer ditches the 80s mood altogether and goes all "danger mode" with Jo Blankenburg's "The Magellan Matrix", accompanying the transition of Barbara Minerva into Cheetah. When it climaxes, it gives the face-off between Diana and the Cheetah an air of The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny.
Zack Snyder's Justice League
JunkieXL returned for Zack Snyder's Justice League and gloriously restored thematic continuity with Zack Snyder's other two DC films, in addition to bringing new themes of his own.
- The epicness of "The Crew at Warpower" is simply off the charts. It even has a Justice League Unlimited vibe to it!
- Allison Crowe's version of "Hallelujah" plays during the end credits as a heartfelt tribute to Zack Snyder's daughter Autumn, whose suicide forced Snyder to back out of the film back in 2017.
- "A Hunter Gathers" plays during the main titles and is the perfect opener to both this score and the film, setting the stage as Superman dies and the Mother Boxes awaken to the sound of his death cries echoing across the planet, leading into Bruce's journey in Iceland to find Arthur Curry.
- "Superman Rising, Part 2" is a triumphant blend of two memorable tracks from Man of Steel that accompanies the return in action of the Last Son of Krypton in a way that had been sorely missing for five years straight (and resonates even more with the film's own unexpected resurrection and good reception). Special mention goes to the first notes of "What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World?", this time turned into a triumphant Fanfare.
- "Wonder Woman, a Call to Stand", which plays during Diana's first scene where she fights the terrorists, is essentially a reprise of "Is She With You" from Batman v Superman, only even more awesome!
- "At the Speed of Force" perfectly captures the moment when the Flash taps into the Speedforce to travel in time and save the League from the detonation of the Unity.
- "We Do This Together" accompanies the team during their first fight against Steppenwolf on Stryker's Island. It accentuates every member of the Justice League, showing that while they're not fully united yet, they're well on their way. Plus, it's completely awesome to boot.
- "Middle Mass" gives the appropriate menace to the New Gods of Apokolips.
- While not as glamorous as these other entries, "Human All Too Human" reflects much of the emotional depth left out of the theatrical cut, and ultimately coveys how Snyder had intended for Cyborg to be the heart of the film.
- "The Will to Power" is an apocalyptically bombastic and sinister track befitting Darkseid.
- "Monument Destroyer" underscores the uncertainty of the resurrected Superman, then blossoms into full-on menace as Superman goes ballistic and the Justice League struggles to contain him. The later portion of the track uses a part of "Arcade" from Man of Steel, serving to illustrate how Superman is (temporarily) acting more like Zod.
- "The Foundation Theme" is an uplifting and inspirational piece that is guaranteed to elicit happy tears. Never before has victory been so beautifully encapsulated.
- "All of You Undisturbed Cities", the theme for the Knightmare and Batman's last confrontation with the Jokernote . Most of it doesn't sound like music - which makes sense since the world has ended and the music-makers are all gone - save for this one portion that's eerily similar to Superman's theme, albeit slightly off-key as a hint that he's gone wrong.
- Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is beautifully appropriate for the first trailer of this long-awaited film, and the lyrics are especially meaningful for fans who campaigned to have it released.
- When the film was planned to release on HBO as a mini-series, a title sequence involving the Mother Boxes set to Tom Wait's "Time" was prepared, but later scrapped for a film release. It can be seen here.
The Suicide Squad
- "Oh No!!!" by Grandson captures the Denser and Wackier nature of The Suicide Squad well, a rap rock song that captures the aggression of the new and improved Suicide Squad with a loud and gritty instrumental that is both bombastic and catchy.
- The red band trailer features Steely Dan's "Dirty Work", an apt fit for the Suicide Squad and its grey work. It is hilariously remixed as an Autobots, Rock Out! of an originally mellow song to fit with the action-packed, gritty yet wacky tone of the movie.
- The green band trailer features a dark version of the 70s ballad "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye".
- The final trailer features and reveals the theme song made for the movie; "Rain" by grandson and Jessie Reyez which captures the melancholy of the Suicide Squad.
FilmAs the Guardians of the Galaxy series shows, James Gunn is no stranger to great music choices, both licensed-wise and score-wise.
- The film sets its distinctly different tone immediately with Johnny Cash's live 1968 performance of "Folsom Prison Blues" playing during the opening sequence of Amanda Waller taking Savant through how Task Force X works.
- The bright and colorful opening credits have some hilariously major Soundtrack Dissonance as they roll over the mangled corpses of the false A-team Waller sent as a distraction set to The Jim Carroll Band's "People Who Died".
- "So This Is the Famous Suicide Squad", John Murphy's theme for the film, is a grungy and badass introduction to the new and improved Task Force X.
- The scene where Task Force X goes to the bar to do recon on Dr. Grieves is set to K. Flay's effectively funky song "Can't Sleep", which fits the scene quite nicely as the team starts loosening up and has fun for the first and last time in their lives.
- The scene of Harley rampaging through the presidential mansion, massacring dozens of Corto Maltese soldiers in the process, is soundtracked by "Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" by Louis Prima, a perky mid-tempo swing jazz standard about being lonely and lovesick.
- "Ratism", which plays during the scene when Ratcatcher unleashes an army of rats against Starro, manages to flow between being solemn and touching, to being an appropriately rousing piece of music for the final battle of a superhero film.
- While not used entirely in the film, the remix of "Oh No" featuring Vic Mensa and Masked Wolf is as badass as the original song.
- "Do Ya Wanna Taste It" by Wig Wam accompanies the opening musical sequence, which should tell you exactly what kind of show you'll be in for with all the characters dancing with completely straight faces. It culminates in the final battle playing the entire song, with the fight choreography perfectly synced to every big beat.
- The second episode's credits feature a hair-metal cover of Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks", which is both an awesome cover of the song and a hilarious Call-Back to the argument earlier in the episode about the merits of hair metal vs. pop."You like that, Evan?"
- Right before the ending of episode 6, Peacemaker sits down at a piano and performs a haunting melody ("Home Sweet Home" by Mötley Crüe, to be exact) that embodies the sadness and anger he's struggling with. And John Cena played it himself.
- Episode 6 concludes with Reckless Love's "Monster" over the montage of Goff-as-Sophie taking over the entire police station and jail with butterflies as Auggie suits up as the White Dragon.
- Black Adam's Theme gives off the vibe that your impending doom is fast approaching. When the choir joins in, it's like they're choosing to worship this threat as it's the only way to protect their lives.
- The Justice Society Theme makes liberal use of string instruments and choir. The end result makes them seem more like heroes from a fantasy film rather than an action film.