Hans Zimmer’s Wonder Woman 1984 is a spectacular return to superhero form, featuring several brilliant themes (both exquisite new and iconic old) as well as an abundance of standout action and romantic setpieces, all bound together by a love theme that’s quite simply out of this world.
This score has been a long time coming (and I seem to be saying that a lot at the moment). After repeated delays and a major release switch from cinemas to streaming services, the latest superhero sequel Wonder Woman 1984 is finally upon us, and with it also comes the highly anticipated return of Hans Zimmer to the world of DC film music. With this particular cinematic universe, Zimmer began with composing Man Of Steel before then moving onto Batman V Superman, and it was there that his brilliant theme for Wonder Woman first hit our ears. Rupert Gregson-Williams then took over scoring duties for the subsequent Wonder Woman movie (as Zimmer had sworn off superhero scores at the time), taking great care of Zimmer’s theme and also introducing a few of his own, overall composing quite a solid score for the film. For this sequel though the man himself has finally returned, and I for one cannot wait to hear what he does with this new album’s nearly ninety minute runtime. So as usual with these reviews – enough with the intro, let’s get cracking.
Themyscira opens the score, and the composer wastes absolutely no time at all in re-establishing his excellent Wonder Woman theme – within the first few seconds light percussion begins to play, and a quiet electric cello then sounds out the opening bars of the now rather infamous motif. It’s here though that the track then takes quite an unexpected stylistic turn, and a particularly amazing one at that. The main theme fades away and brass takes its place, continually building both with volume and anticipation until the music then practically explodes, with loud, dramatic vocals taking the forefront and a particularly ferocious orchestra backing them up. A new motif for Themyscira then introduces itself a few seconds later, only adding to the sheer…majesty of this utterly breathtaking piece of music. Musically-speaking it’s a rather unexpected direction for a Wonder Woman score (it threw me, at least) to take, but a welcome one for sure. As soundtrack openings go as well, this one’s rather brilliant. The dramatic vocals from Themyscira then return in the subsequent Games, bringing an almost action-like intensity to the cue accompanied by loud brass and relentless strings. At about two and a half minutes in though things get even better, as the main Wonder Woman motif then energetically enters the fray on triumphant brass. After a few seconds it’s then joined by the now even louder Themyscira motif, and we are treated to just under a minute of particularly grandiose thematic scoring before the cue then fades quietly out.
A decidedly upbeat Themyscira theme introduces the seven minute 1984, with light brass and anticipatory strings evoking a very classical-sounding film score feeling – it’s funny, it feels almost blasphemous to say Hans Zimmer sounds positively John Williams-esque here (with a dash of John Powell too), but he really, astonishingly does. Classical, upbeat orchestra, and really well done orchestra at that. The rather jovial mood does sadly fade though as the cue progresses, though this doesn’t disappoint for long as intense action takes over in the back half, with fast-paced strings and powerful brass playing several rather proudly heroic statements of both the Themyscira and main Wonder Woman themes. Things then take a more sinister turn in Black Gold, with quiet, ominous strings and some rather ghostly vocals establishing quite a villainous theme for Maxwell Lord. Wish We Had More Time then takes a turn for the beautiful, with a particularly majestic two minutes of breathtaking orchestra introducing a gentle love theme for Diana and Steve. I can’t remember the last time I heard Zimmer’s music go this romantic, but I’ll tell you one thing – I’ve definitely missed it. Wow. The only issue I have with this cue is that it’s only two minutes long. Mystery then descends in The Stone, where slow, methodical strings and creepy-sounding electronics introduce another new theme to the mix, this time for the Dreamstone. It’s quite an ethereal piece overall, though it doesn’t stay for long (just over two minutes) before the composer then moves onto bringing yet another theme into the already thematically rich fold; Cheetah. Fast-paced electronics and fierce strings start things off, setting a gently foreboding tone before louder, malevolent electronics then burst into the fray, taking over the track almost entirely and demanding your attention for a minute of intensely powerful villainous score, with the cue then fading away as ominously as it arrived.
Steve and Diana’s exquisite love theme returns in Fireworks, and if you thought it couldn’t get any more beautiful…you were so wrong. Again it’s an annoyingly short cue, but what we do get here is a full two minutes of loud, utterly, gorgeously romantic orchestra with the love theme proudly held high. The opening bars of Cheetah’s theme then play in quiet yet still rather intense form in Anything You Want, starting with low-pitched electronics before then moving onto foreboding strings and, towards the end of the piece, increasingly bold brass as the orchestra starts to build both in volume and intensity. This then sets up the subsequent percussion-heavy Open Road rather nicely – a lengthy, tense action setpiece featuring the main Wonder Woman theme in all its ferocious glory. It’s the track I’ve been waiting for since Is She With You? from Batman V Superman, and at five minutes long it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Where the main theme had previously been hinted at and played in short bursts, Zimmer now simply lets off the restraints and off the theme goes, with some truly spectacular results – it even gets a little expansion too. The love theme gets another welcome appearance in Without Armor, though this time in quiet, almost sorrowful form with slow melancholic strings. A pensive Themyscira motif also appears towards the end, though it doesn’t stay sad for long as the orchestra starts to build gently behind it, powering the tone up from solemnity to strength. Tension is the main stay of subsequent track The White House; a seven minute action setpiece that focuses heavily on dramatic, building percussion and loud bursts of worrisome brass, as well as several fast-paced renditions of both the heroic Wonder Woman and villainous Cheetah motifs locked in a tumultuous musical battle.
After a rather ominous opening, Already Gone settles in with gently romantic strings playing a particularly compelling rendition of the love theme – though that’s only the start. As the music progresses, gentle brass and quietly solemn vocals begin to appear in the background, building and becoming more and more prominent as the music continues until the love theme reaches show-stopping levels of utter musical splendor. Each time the theme plays I think it can’t possibly get any better, and then it simply just does. For the final minute of the cue things then turn powerfully tear-jerking, with the love theme fading away and the orchestra and vocals reaching a loud and particularly heartbreaking crescendo. In summary – standout cue award. With the romance then fading rapidly away, quiet electronics open Radio Waves – they start off gentle and almost in the background, and over the course of three subsequent minutes they build continuously, later joined by tense percussion and imposing vocals that get louder and louder and louder until the main Wonder Woman theme then practically bursts into the fray with an intensely ferocious appearance. Frantic action then takes over for a minute with aggressive percussion and in-your-face electronics sounding off a few short bursts of Cheetah’s theme before the Themyscira motif then bursts into frame, blowing everything else utterly out of the water with its most breathtakingly epic rendition yet. Lord Of Desire then darkens the mood considerably with the return of Maxwell Lord’s theme, this time in powerfully imposing form. Loud brass and chanting vocals paint a particularly malevolent musical picture of the character, with the next few minutes then cementing the motif with a good fleshing out before the track then comes to a poignantly ominous finish.
The Beauty In What Is opens determinedly, with heroic brass rising up in defiance alongside some particularly uplifting vocals and strings. For two and a half minutes the orchestra builds like this, growing in intensity and power before coming to a very rapid halt and then gently crescendoing for a good minute until the cue’s end. Truth then brings the score full circle, echoing a few quietly solemn notes from the love theme before then breaking out the orchestra for a particularly triumphant thematic finish, with brass harkening back towards the upbeat style of Themyscira and percussion playing the main Wonder Woman theme in loudly heroic form. To close out the album proper we then get a lengthy bonus cue in Lost And Found, which after a few minutes of orchestral build-up proudly showcases the love theme for Steve and Diana for a final majestic (and happily lengthy) appearance. It really is the perfect finish to this utterly amazing score.
Overall, Hans Zimmer’s Wonder Woman 1984 is everything I’d hoped it would be, and so, so much more. His now rather iconic motif for the title character returns in several brilliant action setpieces, not to mention also getting extended and expanded upon (see Open Road or Truth), and this isn’t even the best part of the score. The composer also introduces new motifs for the mysterious Dreamstone as well as for villains Cheetah and Maxwell Lord that are all frankly brilliant, but even they are trumped rather spectacularly by the astonishingly beautiful love theme for Steve and Diana. The motif gets several short yet gently romantic renditions early in the score (see Fireworks) before then really coming into its own in the beautifully tragic Already Gone, where dramatic vocals and tear-jerking strings simply go all out with the theme. All-in, the score has a number of astounding and intricate melodies (both old and new), standout action sequences and an overall orchestral prowess to it that I haven’t heard in quite some years from Hans Zimmer. Exquisite.
Standout Cue: 13. Already Gone/17. Truth