Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy was a movie series of grand scope and scale, which told three very distinctive tales revolving around Bruce Wayne/Batman. It featured many weird and wonderful characters, as well as a crime-ridden city that felt vast yet at the same time quite intimate.
To ensure the world Nolan created could feel fully formed, his trilogy required a musical score to match. Not a score that would change dramatically from one picture to the next, but rather a collection of intertwined themes that could tell the story of a man, his mission, and the darkness in between.
In today’s post, I’m taking a look at the music of The Dark Knight trilogy to highlight the magnificent scores that are featured in Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises. I will be providing a few words on each score, before presenting a list of the tracks for each soundtrack.
Let’s start at the beginning…
The music for Batman Begins
Prior to the development of Batman Begins, the Batman movies had featured some memorable music, most notably the work of composers Danny Elfman and Elliott Goldenthal. Working across the Batman Anthology, each musician had managed to create a series of musical themes that were very distinctive, and in the case of Elfman’s Batman Theme from Batman ’89 (and later Batman Returns), very iconic.
So, when approaching a new era of Batman movie music, it would have been easy to lean on what had come before. To take inspiration from the work of Elfman and Goldenthal and create something in the same vein.
But that’s not what happened for The Dark Knight trilogy. Starting with the score for Batman Begins – the first entry in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series – a whole new set of themes were created, which would define the Caped Crusader for a new generation.
The score for Batman Begins was a collaboration between Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, with additional contributions from Ramin Djawadi, Mel Wesson, and Lorne Balfe. The music was honest, heart breaking and yet filled with hope.
A perfect score? Yes – for this iteration of Batman movies, it couldn’t be better. The music for Batman Begins captured the essence of Nolan’s Gotham then took it to a whole new level, in a dramatic and beautiful way.
Despite my own personal love for past Batman movie themes, specifically Danny Elfman’s score to Batman Returns, it is Zimmer and Howard’s work on Batman Begins that is without a doubt my absolute favourite. Their score drives the movie and takes it to a place no other Batman movie had dared to go before.
Batman Begins: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
In 2005, to coincide with the theatrical release of Batman Begins, Warner Bros. Records released a CD soundtrack featuring the movie’s score. The 12-track album was titled: Batman Begins: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
The 12 tracks featured on the album were as follows:
- 1) Vespertillo
- 2) Eptesicus
- 3) Myotis
- 4) Barbastella
- 5) Artibeus
- 6) Tadarida
- 7) Macrotus
- 8) Antrozous
- 9) Nycteris
- 10) Molossus
- 11) Corynorhinus
- 12) Lasiurus
The music for The Dark Knight
As with Batman Begins, the music for The Dark Knight was a collaboration between Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. The duo took what they had created in Batman Begins and developed it further, to present a score that took a whole new route.
From the opening track, to the closing moments, the score was filled with tense, nerve-shredding sounds. It was as if it had a place to be, and there was no time to sit back – a story was being told and it needed drama and emotion at every turn before it could reach its grand finale.
Such was the beauty of the score, it won a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media – and deservedly so. The score for The Dark Knight was (and still is) an absolute triumph.
The Dark Knight: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
In 2008, The Dark Knight: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released by Warner Bros. Records. The soundtrack was initially released on a single disc, before a two-disc Special Edition was released which included additional material.
The two-disc version includes the same tracks as the one-disc release, but with 14 extra tracks on disc two.
The tracks featured on the two-disc release include:
- 1) Why So Serious?
- 2) I’m Not a Hero
- 3) Harvey Two-Face
- 4) Aggressive Expansion
- 5) Always a Catch
- 6) Blood on My Hands
- 7) A Little Push
- 8) Like a Dog Chasing Cars
- 9) I Am the Batman
- 10) And I Thought My Jokes Were Bad
- 11) Agent of Chaos
- 12) Introduce a Little Anarchy
- 13) Watch the World Burn
- 14) A Dark Knight
- 1) Bank Robbery (Prologue)
- 2) Buyer Beware
- 3) Halfway to Hong Kong
- 4) Decent Men in an Indecent Time
- 5) You’re Gonna Love Me
- 6) Chance
- 7) You Complete Me
- 8) The Ferries
- 9) We Are Tonight’s Entertainment
- 10) A Watchful Guardian
- 11) Why So Serious?
- 12) Poor Choice of Words
- 13) Gunpowder and Gasoline
- 14) Rory’s First Kiss
The music for The Dark Knight Rises
For the final entry in The Dark Knight trilogy, Hans Zimmer composed the music without the involvement of James Newton Howard. Newton felt that Zimmer was the driving force of the Trilogy’s sounds and believed he was the right person to deliver the final score.
As with the music of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, the sounds of The Dark Knight Rises managed to capture the world of Gotham perfectly. This was a harsh, unforgiving city, with steadfast villains, and it was given a score to match.
Tracks such as The Fire Rises and Despair captured the mood of the film, while Rise delivered the drama that was needed for an epic finale to a magnificent trilogy. The score wasn’t as strong as what had been presented in Batman Begins or The Dark Knight, but it completed the series in a way that felt right for the picture.
The Dark Knight Rises: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
In 2012, The Dark Knight: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released. The collection included the following 15 tracks:
- 1) A Storm is Coming
- 2) On Thin Ice
- 3) Gotham’s Reckoning
- 4) Mind If I Cut In?
- 5) Underground Army
- 6) Born in Darkness
- 7) The Fire Rises
- 8) Nothing Out There
- 9) Despair
- 10) Fear Will Find You
- 11) Why Do We Fall?
- 12) Death By Exile
- 13) Imagine the Fire
- 14) Necessary Evil
- 15) Rise
The Dark Knight trilogy music at a glance
- Batman Begins (2005) – Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard
- The Dark Knight (2008) – Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – Hans Zimmer
What is your favourite piece of music from The Dark Knight trilogy? Does one theme stand out for you or do you believe the entire score for Batman Begins or The Dark Knight is head and shoulders above the rest?
Whatever your thoughts and feelings about the work of Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, feel free to sound off in the comments section below.