As the release date for The Batman comes closer with each day, we are getting increasing tidbits to whet the appetite for more Gotham-related content. Now director Matt Reeves has released the official musical theme for his film’s primary villain, The Riddler (Paul Dano). Composed by the Academy Award-winning Michael Giacchino, “The Riddler Theme” is five minutes long and fits perfectly with the dark, grim tone we have seen so far in trailers. Beginning with a soft, eerie hum, the first two and a half minutes of the theme are wordless vocals. It sounds spooky and strangely calm, almost reverential. Then at 2:30, it suddenly explodes into dramatic orchestration, all the more shocking for the earlier quiet. The theme ends in the same dread sound as it began. It is pretty tremendous. Listen to it here:
The upcoming Batman movie has had quite the ramp up in popular culture. It was initially conceived as being directed and co-written by Ben Affleck, who also planned to star as the Caped Crusader. The plan was for it to be an extension of the version of Bruce Wayne that Affleck had played in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, and to keep to that continuity. However, Affleck eventually stepped away from the role and the film entirely, and Matt Reeves took it over. As Reeves recently revealed, Affleck’s film would have had a very different tone. He described it as nearly James Bond-like, and that the movie would heavily involve Arkham Asylum, with Batman hunting a number of escapees. The original villain was slated to be Deathstroke the Terminator (played by Joe Manganiello, who briefly portrayed the character in Justice League). Even if The Riddler was involved, it would be hard to imagine the tone of “The Riddler Theme” would have meshed with the planned movie.
“The Riddler Theme” is one of the latest works from composer Michael Giacchino, who has already had a very illustrious career. He has worked with major directors like Brad Bird (for Pixar’s The Incredibles and Ratatouille), Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit), and The Wachowskis (Jupiter Ascending). He has worked particularly closely with director/mega-producer JJ Abrams over the years, and composed the iconic opening theme to the hit TV show Lost. According to Matt Reeves, Giacchino began composing the score before the film even began shooting, which makes the eeriness of the theme that much more striking. While Reeves and star Robert Pattinson have both made reference to the film being inspired by a certain iconic 1990s rock star, that does not appear to have extended to the composer’s work.
The Batman is scheduled to be released on March 4. It was originally slated for wide release in 2021, but like so many film productions, the Covid-19 pandemic caused delays. “The Riddler Theme” appears to be in line with everything we have seen and heard about the film so far, which is to say, a particularly shadowy and Gothic version of the Batman stories we all know well.