Danny Elfman is the musical mind behind the original Spider-Man trilogy, just about every Tim Burton film, and of course Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns. Oddly enough, just prior to his successful career with Tim Burton, he was the lead singer/songwriter for the 1980s band Oingo Boingo, and had no film score experience whatsoever. According to the New York Post, working on Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989, Danny Elfman almost broke down and there might not have been any more film compositions after that.
“‘Batman’ was very stressful — almost nervous-breakdown stressful. All I had done up to then was quirky comedies. Nobody but Tim wanted me on the movie. I really had to prove myself. There was a desire to have me collaborate with Prince [who wrote additional music for the film], but I was not open to that.”
Elfman had already composed Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice with Tim Burton, but the Batman theme seemed to be a total different animal. Prior to Tim Burton films, the Danny Elfman-fronted band did manage to compose another film theme with the 80s cult hit Weird Science.
Recently, according to the Guardian, Danny Elfman was asked to bring his scores to the stage for several concerts. Admittedly, Elfman found it a challenge, and several years after the Batman, Pee Wee, and Beetlejuice themes seemed less appealing to him.
“I had heard parts of Batman, Beetlejuice, and Pee-wee in other concerts and generally I hated them. The first time I heard Pee-wee live on stage, I realised half of it was piano and the strings were just sitting there. In the film it’s fine, but onstage there’s nothing happening. I had just never imagined playing it live.”
Despite Elfman’s own hard criticism of his work, familiar movie music like Darkman, Edward Scissorhands, The Simpsons, and all of the Sam Raimi-produced Spider-Man films had their music composed by him. Not to mention his musical contributions such as the Nightmare Before Christmas, which he also sang the part of Jack Skellington.
Whether Burton or Raimi, Batman theme, Spider-Man theme, or Nightmare Before Christmas, Danny Elfman has quite the resume. With all of this under his belt, and his seemingly inseparable film relationship with Tim Burtion, you would think the stress of working with him beyond Batman would be much easier. Elfman would something very different to say about that.
“Quite the contrary. I never think ‘Oh, Tim’s gonna love this.’ One of the most consistently interesting things about Tim is how unpredictable he can be. He’s neurotic, but so am I.”
The Inquisitr has reported that Tim Burton, and others, have been chatting up a Beetlejuice sequel. No word on Danny Elfman’s return.
As a reminder of the titular Dark Knight theme that saved the Batman franchise in the early 90s, you can check out the theme on YouTube.
[Image Via Batman ’89 Screenshot]