The year 2020 has been very weird for everyone in the world, and as one of the minor results I had not heard any new music by Hans Zimmer until the end of that year. He has, of course, written some music, but all the high profile movies with his music have been postponed to 2021 because of COVID-19. This is the case for Dune, the new James Bond movie No Time to Die and Top Gun: Maverick, but not for Wonder Woman 1984, which was released in movie theaters – in countries where it was allowed – and also on the streaming platform HBO Max.
The superhero Wonder Woman is well known from the DC Superhero universe, next to Batman and Superman, and after being away from live-action television and movies for decades, she reappeared in the movie Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016, played by Gal Gadot. Her introduction as Wonder Woman in that movie was quite iconic. Not only was the battle a magnificent showcase of how strong Wonder Woman is, but the music that accompanied the fighting, which would go on to become her main theme, was fantastic as well. The score for Batman v. Superman was written by Zimmer together with Tom Holkenborg and the music for this scene can be heard in “Is She With You” on that soundtrack album. It is a magnificent track, with a pulsating foundation of percussion with a superb, aggressive, but still melodic, solo by Tina Guo on her electric cello on top.
After this successful introduction, standalone movies had to be made, of course. The music for the first one, Wonder Woman, was composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams, who used the theme once during a key moment, but the rest of the music was Gregson-Williams’s own original writing. With Hans Zimmer back to score the sequel Wonder Woman 1984, I was expecting a return of the excellent cello theme. The new score does indeed start with the cello theme as a signature during the logo display at the start of the movie, which can be heard in “Themyscira.” The percussion foundation from the theme begins, on top of which Zimmer has composed the Wonder Woman theme. In its core you can still hear the original Wonder Woman theme, but Zimmer has used it as a building block to create an amazing new orchestral piece with the help of a choir, to represent Wonder Woman for this movie.
In addition to the main theme, more themes can be found. In “Black Gold” you can hear the theme for the main antagonist. The melody is not dark at all but elegant instead, played by a trumpet. After a while the music becomes a bit darker though, with low cello lines. “Wish We Had More Time” is an intense orchestral piece, containing the love theme for Diana Prince – Wonder Woman’s real name – and Steve, with long emotional lines performed by the violins. While the theme is wonderful in this track, you can enjoy it even better in the bonus track “Lost and Found,” in which it is incorporated into a gorgeous 12-minute emotional suite.
Zimmer also composed a theme for a very important object in the movie, which can be heard in “The Stone,” with mostly synth elements in order to create a mysterious vibe around the object. There is also a theme for another antagonist, which can be heard in “Cheetah,” and it is a combination of sinister orchestra and synth sounds. What stands out to me in this theme are the French horn bursts, which sound very similar to the melody of the cello theme and link Wonder Woman and Cheetah together musically.
All these themes form a foundation for the rest of the music that you can find on this album. The main theme can be heard many times, but the most amazing version of it can be enjoyed in “Open Road.” Instead of the aggressive cello lines by Guo, the melody of the original theme is performed by the full orchestra, until the new Wonder Woman theme kicks in as the climax. This piece is a terrific showcase of how strong and powerful Wonder Woman is in combat. In “Fireworks” you can hear an uplifting version of the love theme, while in “Without Armor” and in “Already Gone” the emotional version returns. In “Anything You Want” you can hear a dark version of the Black Gold theme, and in “Truth” the same theme is by contrast quite slow and emotional, before the track is concluded with a heroic version of the Wonder Woman theme as the finale for the movie.
There are more interesting tracks to be found on this album. “Radio Waves” is one of the tracks where Zimmer’s writing really shines. It is an interesting mix of the different themes incorporated into the battle music, but the cue also starts with a fantastic musical buildup, which is another of Zimmer’s strong points. “1984” starts with a very uplifting piece of music, reminding me of a galloping horse, before it transitions into melodic battle music by the orchestra, including the Stone and the Wonder Woman themes.
When I heard the announcement of Zimmer returning to score Wonder Woman 1984, I was expecting some kind of electronic score with a lot of synths, because of the movie taking place in the ‘80s, but he wrote a fantastic orchestral score with many thematic ideas instead. In recent years his musical approach to movies consisted more of atmospheric sounds and textures, which makes for quite the contrast with what he composed for Wonder Woman 1984. With the music for Wonder Woman 1984, Zimmer went back to his musical style from the ‘90s and early 2000s, which is my favorite period of his music, making me quite happy with what he has written for this movie. With this excellent score in my mind, I am extremely curious about the music for Dune, No Time to Die and Top Gun: Maverick. Hopefully the music for those movies will be just as amazing.
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The highlights are in bold.
- Themyscira (3:51)
- Games (5:17)
- 1984 (7:04)
- Black Gold (4:55)
- Wish We Had More Time (2:54)
- The Stone (2:13)
- Cheetah (3:13)
- Fireworks (2:38)
- Anything You Want (4:45)
- Open Road (5:36)
- Without Armor (3:46)
- The White House (7:45)
- Already Gone (5:04)
- Radio Waves (8:02)
- Lord of Desire (2:44)
- The Beauty In What Is (3:48)
- Truth (4:45)
- Lost and Found (Bonus Track) (11:55)
Total length: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Watertower Music (2020)