Study Guide

Spider-Man Music (Score)

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Music (Score)

Danny Elfman

Creating the score for a movie about a nerd who gets bitten by a spider, gets superpowers, climbs up walls, and beats up a demented rich guy who wears a goblin suit and throws pumpkins at people can't be easy.

We imagine the scene at the studio went something like this:

BOB: All right, we need music for our movie. We need somebody with established musical chops who knows how to score action scenes that are rich with fantastical elements. Somebody who can write music that's exciting and bold, but with a sense of whimsy and intelligence.

DAVE: What if we get the guy who wrote The Simpsons theme song?

KAREN: Ooh! Or what about the main guy from groundbreaking '80s new-wave band Oingo Boingo?

LANCE: You know who we need? That dude who writes all the music for Tim Burton's movies.

BOB: Good news, gentlemen and lady. That person is all Danny Elfman.


Film composer Danny Elfman is Hollywood's main musical man for soundtracks that are dark but playful. In addition to scoring the first two Spider-Man movies and all but three of Tim Burton's movies, he's also responsible for the score for everything from Men in Black and Mission: Impossible to Oscar fare like Silver Linings Playbook. He can do menacing whimsy, but he can do just about everything else, too.

And check this out: at the 1997 Academy Awards, he was nominated in both Original Score categories—dramatic, for Good Will Hunting, and comedy, for Men in Black. Unfortunately, he didn't win either award.

Fortunately, those were just his first two nominations; he'd snag two more in the 2000s (for Big Fish and Milk), further solidifying his place as one of the most important film composers of his generation.

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