| Backstage - Christopher
did the Wonder Woman animated feature assignment
fall into your hands?
I never really
asked, but I would assume, my work with Bruce on Batman
Gotham Knight, led to Wonder Woman.
coming up with the score, what were important notes,
being it character or score, that you felt you needed to
hit upon in order to make the score memorable?
saw the first cut of the movie, I thought the score
needed to be big, and operatic. I felt that modern rock,
guitar sound was a major component of Justice League
Unlimited's musical identity, so I purposely stayed away
from using that. I didn't want Wonder Woman to sound
similar to anything previously done in the DCAU.
It's a different sounding score from my previous
work. Hellboy, and Batman live in dark, and gothic
worlds, requiring music that reflects that attitude.
With Wonder Woman it was about conveying a sense of
beauty and femininity, but also power and strength. I
thought having a solo female voice featured in Wonder
Woman's theme, and certain parts of the movie, would
interject a female energy. I also thought of the female
voice as kind of spiritual when Hippolyta is creating
her daughter, kind of like a Amazonian prayer chant. The
female choir stuff is then juxtaposed against Ares'
masculine theme, which uses mostly men's choir.
This is an origin story, so I wanted Diana's theme to
slowly evolve though out the movie into the "Wonder
Woman" theme. Diana's theme starts off as simple chord
structure when you first see her as an adult sparring
with Artemis. You hear her theme evolve more
rhythmically as she's competing in the gladiatorial
games to determine an emissary. Its not until last
minute of the movie where Diana is first called "Wonder
Woman" you hear the full-on Wonder Woman "hero" theme
combining all the elements.
There's a nerdy
thing that I like to do with super-hero themes, where I
break down how many notes the hero's theme is, by how
many syllables are in the hero's name. This has been
somewhat of a tradition with Superman's theme music
throughout the years. So, Wonder Woman's theme is 4
Will fans notice any
familiar cues, perhaps homages, to Wonder Woman
scores of the past?
Bruce had told me he was
thinking about ending the movie with a heavy metal cover
version of the Lynda Carter theme song. I felt that our
movie ending on that iconic shot of Wonder Woman then
going into a "nu-metal" version of the Carter theme for
the end credits, would be like ending Tim Burton's
Batman, or Batman Begins with the Adam West-Batman TV
theme. in my opinion, it would've been out of place with
the tone, and style of the movie.
As a fan
myself, I love seeing respectful shout outs in movies,
acknowledging what's come before. Like the Max Fleischer
robots in Superman's fortress of solitude in Doomsday,
or the old Batmobile in New Frontier. In the scene where
Steve takes Diana to the bar, I wanted to use the Carter
theme playing for a few seconds on the jukebox, . It
would be more of a subtle nod only WW fans would pick up
on. But the reality of the Lynda Carter theme, that
outweighed everything, was that it would cost time and
money dealing with legal issues just to license the
Are there any moments in particular,
any cues or tracks, that you are especially proud of in
your Wonder Woman score?
prologue of the movie is probably my favorite. It's the
longest single cue I've written for a film so far,
clocking in around 9 minutes. The first 3 minutes is
just Hippolyta kicking ass with just music and sound FX,
no dialog. .. It's pure visual storytelling. I think if
you listen to this music by itself, separated from the
visuals, you can still hear a story being told. The
music goes through a lot of emotions, and colors through
out the prologue.. war, revenge, defeat, victory,
retribution, rebirth, hope...
was fun making a musical "hero" moment when WW's iconic
lasso, and tiara are first seen and used in the prologue
by Hippolyta, resulting in a bit of arial decapitation.
I think that's my favorite thing in the whole movie!
Hopefully the R-rated version of that will be released
some day, so people can see it in all of its bloody
glory. There's nothing more fun than writing music to
arterial blood spray, and exposed, severed trachea!
Before we move on to other topics, any
thoughts on the Wonder Woman movie itself? Care
to share your thoughts on the latest DC animated movie?
Of course I'm totally biased.. but I think its the best
one so far! Michael Jelenic's script is really tight and
fun. The humour is really great, and sometimes very
adult. The voice cast is fantastic. Lauren Montgomery
has an amazing talent for directing edge of your seat
action, AND emotional, human moments. She also has a
great character design style. Overall, I think this
movie stands out from the other DTV's, because its story
is so accessible to both hard-core fans, and people that
aren't familiar, or generally interested in super-hero
Do you find it a daunting task when
scoring a DC animated feature, especially when you
consider the impressive pedigree of talent you are
joining the ranks of? Does it sometimes shock you to see
you scoring a movie alongside Kevin Manthei and Robert
Kral for Batman: Gotham Knight, or having your
work on Wonder Woman compared to the character’s
themes in Justice League by Dynamic Music
Well, the bar for quality, and
excellence was set impossibly high by Shirley Walker.
Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion, and Kris Carter are
so important to the history and legacy of DC comics
animation. They were there at the beginning with
Shirley, and each of them has contributed amazing
scores, and themes for these characters. Kris Carter
actually lives around my neighborhood, and sometimes I
see him at the local grocery store.. I always ask him
for stories about the "old days" with Shirley.
have always respected Kevin and Rob's work, and was
honored to be included with them on Batman. What was a
bit daunting about Batman, is the legacy of such famous
and iconic music from Elfman, Shirley, and now Zimmer.
They've created the template, and musical language of
what audiences think Batman music "should" sound like.
That's a testament to how good those themes are. So, no
matter how different, or original any of us try to be,
we'll always be compared.
Wonder Woman is great
for me, because there isn't some symphonic John
Williams, or Danny Elfman "Wonder Woman Theme" that
fandom has fallen in love with. Although, the Lynda
Carter show does have a really cool, catchy theme song (personally,I
prefer the 3rd season funk-disco version!).
Based on your previous projects, including the Hellboy
animated features and Batman: Gotham Knight
(great job on “In Darkness Dwells, by the way), is it
safe to assume you’re a comic fan? If so, any characters
in particular that are your favorite?
Absolutely!! My earliest childhood memory of a superhero
was Neal Adams' Batman, and Ditko's Spider-Man. As a
young kid I loved silver age stuff from Marvel, and DC..
Stan Lee, Denny O'Neil, Marv Wolfman. I was also really
into Marvel's G.I. Joe comics for a while.. one issue..
"Silent Interlude" still being a favorite. I was also
attracted to a lot of horror / supernatural characters
like Dr. Strange, The Demon, Deadman, The Specter, Tomb
of Dracula, ect..
As I got older in the late 80's
early 90's Frank Miller Batman, Alan Moore Swamp Thing,
Killing Joke, Watchmen.. Got into the whole 90's Vertigo
stuff.. Gaiman's Sandman, Hellblazer, Preacher... The
more recent years.. Hellboy, B.P.R.D, Planetary, Alan
Moore's Top Shelf stuff.. although frankly, I've been a
bit out of the loop comics-wise for the past couple of
My favorite artists are Kirby, Ditko,
Rude, Wrightson, Adams, Stout, Mignola, Corbin, Frazetta...
Will you be lending your sound
to upcoming DC animated movie, including Green
Lantern, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, or
I'm not involved with Green Lantern, but I
know who is... and I can tell you that it's in very good
I think the approach that Bruce is taking
for these DC Animated DTV's, is to have each movie
really stand alone as its own unique film, not connected
with any continuity to the others. In addition to
different character designs, voice casts, title
sequences, etc.. different scores by different
For me, its an honor and a privilege
to be asked to work on these films. They are all such
classic, iconic characters, loved by so many people
around the world. You wouldn't have to ask me twice to
work on another one!
What can we expect from you in the
future? Where else should we keep an eye open for your
I always get in trouble for announcing things
that haven't been officially announced!
The World's Finest would like to thank Christopher
Drake for his participation in this interview.
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