Given his close working relationship on the Batman trilogy and beyond with Chris Nolan, it likely seemed obvious to everyone who isn’t Hans Zimmer that he’d be the natural composer to score the Nolan-produced, Zack Snyder-directed Superman pic Man Of Steel. But Zimmer, talking to CNN about taking on the project, didn’t see it that way.
"A journalist asked me at an Inception party if I was going to do Superman, and I hadn't even heard of it, so I went, 'Absolutely no way,'" Zimmer says. "Somehow in the noise of that party, that got misconstrued as 'Absolutely Hans is doing it.' It was all over the Internet that I was doing Superman, and I'd never even met Zack! So I phoned him up, 'I'm really sorry, this wasn't my doing, this is a misunderstanding.' And he said, 'Oh! It's great that you phoned. Maybe we should meet and talk.'"
The two clicked and the collaboration has been going on ever since, with Zimmer confronting his biggest issue: tackling a character whose music is – cinematically at least – tightly linked with John Williams’ fanfares and themes for the Christopher Reeve era. "Look, that was daunting," Zimmer confesses. "Seriously. He's the greatest film composer out there, without a doubt, and it happens to be one of his iconic pieces of music, so I spent three months just procrastinating and not even getting a start on the thing, because I was so intimidated: 'Oh my God, I'm following in John Williams' footsteps.'"
His way of finding a path around that? Focus on what Man Of Steel is saying about Superman. "I kept thinking of the story as, What if you are extraordinary, and your entire ambition is to join humanity? To become human? What does it mean to become human? What does it mean to be an outsider who really wants to join the human race?"
He also appreciated the apparent tone of Man Of Steel, something that everyone else still seems so unwilling to broach lest it spoil anything. "Everything's tinged with irony and sarcasm and bitterness and darkness these days," he said. But this Superman is something lighter, he said, "celebrating everything that was good and fine about America," such as small towns "where people don't lock their doors, neighbours get together, and families are families."
For more from Zimmer, head to CNN’s interview. If you’re a fan of the man, you’ll definitely also want to keep an eye on Empire...