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date: 29 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics edited by John Richardson, Claudia Gorbman, and Carol Vernallis. The most successful superheroes of modern cinema are Superman and Batman. This chapter considers the changes wrought by digital technology in their cinematic construction and the impact on their music. The relationship between action, heroic theme, and the iconography of the superhero demonstrates a significant shift in how thematic music is employed in the more recent Batman and Superman films. This chapter contrasts musical and visual construction of the title characters in Superman (Richard Donner, 1978) and Batman (Tim Burton, 1989) with the treatment of the same characters in Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005) and Superman Returns (Bryan Singer, 2006). The problem of superheroic action and the musical solutions that analog films employed to address the limitations on representing the superheroes’ abilities is then contrasted with the subsequent decoupling of heroic action and musical theme in the later films, in which digital technology allows more convincing presentation of superheroic powers.

Keywords: Superman, Batman, digital technology, superheroes, action, heroic theme

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