Spider-Man (2002)

Composed by: Danny Elfman

The superhero movie genre was still struggling to find its place at the dawn of the 21st century. The Batman series had fizzled out and X-Men, while successful, wasn’t blowing the general audience’s minds. Then Sam Raimi, a big Spider-Man fan, brought the beloved web-slinger to the big screen with smashing success. Spider-Man was established as one of the first truly great superhero movies. Some say the film hasn’t aged well. I admit it’s cheesy, but Raimi uses the cheesiness to his advantage. I just love this movie. There’s Willem Dafoe’s deliciously maniacal Green Goblin, J.K. Simmons’ flawless performance as J. Jonah Jameson, and really good supporting work from characters like Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man/Peter Parker really gets across the character’s awkward dorkiness, though he’s distractingly too old to be a teenager (thankfully the film is quick to get him out of high school). Raimi worked with one of his long-time collaborators, composer Danny Elfman. Elfman had already established himself in the superhero genre with the Burton Batman films and Raimi’s cult classic Darkman.

Surprisingly there was controversy amongst film score fans over Spider-Man’s theme. There was a claim that he didn’t have one or that is was hard to find. It’s true that the character has several themes and motifs, but there is a main identity clearly established very early on in “Main Title.” It breaks out at heroic moments in “Revenge” and “Parade Attack” and closes out the score dramatically at the end of “Farewell.” Perhaps one cause for the confusion is that Elfman often only utilizes the first few notes before bringing in thumping action music or another motif. The fullest version of the theme also doesn’t appear that often, reserved for certain moments such as the final web-slinging sequence in “Farewell.” One of the more notable uses of the theme is in “Costume Montage.” Elfman has the theme played on electric guitar as Peter Parker draws out various designs for a cool costume. Continue reading