Wonder Woman getting her own solo film is a big deal. It’s true that she’s not the first female superhero to get the feature treatment, with Supergirl, Elektra and Catwoman preceding her, but the character has a key place in pop culture history, and has long been seen as a feminist icon (despite being fictional). Director Patty Jenkins will be at the helm of the movie, with Gal Gadot in the starring role… but one thing that composer Hans Zimmer wants to see is more women involved in the creation of the blockbuster’s music.
The Oscar winner broached this subject earlier this month when I had the opportunity to speak with him over the phone – paired with his Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice co-composer Junkie XL – and we were discussing Wonder Woman’s role in the film. I asked about the significance of being the artists responsible for giving the character her first big screen score, and in his response Zimmer noted that he would love to see a woman composer and female musicians take charge in the creation of the music for the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. Said Zimmer,
I just wish I could bring more women into the whole process. The instruments, more women composers succeeding, more women filmmakers succeeding. Wonder Woman seems to be an obvious choice to meet that charge.
During the making of the score for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and specifically the Wonder Woman theme played during her first costumed appearance, Hans Zimmer did his part to bring a brazen feminine sound into the mix. Specifically, he worked with electric cellist and percussionist Sheila E. to give the music being made an entirely different feeling and sound. Said the composer,
One thing that has bugged me forever is that our superhero movies are so masculine and male generated. I wanted Wonder Woman to be… I wanted the music to be full of more female… but you know, I wanted a banshee wail, like you’ve never heard before. So my friend Tina Guo, who’s an amazing electric cellist, basically typecast her, because whenever she picks up her cello that very nice, very sweet, very polite, young woman turns into a warrior princess in one go… There is a different sound you get from the drummers when we have Sheila E. playing amongst them. It just gives you a different sound. It gives you just as much ferocity, but it’s a different type, so we were looking at things like that.
The composer for Wonder Woman has not yet been announced, but when thinking about the state of that section of the industry, you begin to realize that it is tremendously male-dominated. In the history of the Oscars, only two female composers have ever won Best Original Score, and they actually happened in back-to-back years (1996 and 1997). While film fans can rattle off names like John Williams, Danny Elfman, Ennio Morricone, Alfred Newman, and Alan Menken, the game becomes a much greater challenge trying to identify notable women of the same profession. Even the 2008 remake of The Women - which had an all-female cast, a female director, and female writers – still had Mark Isham composing the score.
There are many sections of the film industry that have long been entirely dominated by men, and while Wonder Woman can’t be put in the position of solving all of these issues, certainly hiring a female composer would be a great move for the production. Hans Zimmer has notably taken himself out of the running for the job, but hopefully he’s sharing the same thoughts he shared with me with the executives and producers at Warner Bros.