What Do Gandalf And Superman Have In Common?

The first teaser trailer for the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, was recently released online.  My first time seeing it was at the theater for the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises.  I thought at the time that the music sounded suspiciously like part of the soundtrack from Lord of the Rings, a score I am very familiar with since I have seen those movies dozens of times and the complete 3-disc soundtrack was my go-to music when I would stay up all night writing research papers for school.  A quick visit to my ipod confirmed my suspicions–the music featured in the Man of Steel trailer is the last minute of a track titled The Bridge of Khazad Dum, from The Fellowhip of the Ring.  Said bridge is in the Mines of Moria, and this is the music that accompanies Gandalf’s fatal fall into the pit with the Balrog, and the Fellowship’s immediate devastation.

Watch one version of the Man of Steel trailer, (this is the one with voice-over from Clark Kent’s adoptive father; the other one is the same except the voice-over is from his biological dad Jor-El):

Now compare the music in that teaser to the last minute of The Bridge of Khazad Dum.  Skip to about the 4:40 mark:

I mean, it’s exactly the same.  It’s not “similar to” or “in the style of,” it’s actually the exact same piece of music.  It’s not unusual for trailers to feature music from other movies, or to recycle something that won’t actually be in the finished product itself.  This is, after all, a teaser trailer, so maybe they haven’t scored anything for the film itself yet.  But it’s still strange to use music from such an iconic film, that is so recognizable.  Howard Shore composed the music for Lord of the Rings, but Hans Zimmer is scoring Man of Steel, so they’re not even recycling from the same musician.

I’m sure they chose this music because it’s haunting and dark and fits (or sets) the mood of the trailer very well.  I’m sure they didn’t intend for me to start thinking about how Gandalf and Superman can be compared, if at all.  But because this music is so strongly tied to Lord of the Rings, that’s exactly what I’m doing.  Is it because both Superman and Gandalf resemble humans but are actually much more powerful and are sent to this earth for some greater purpose?  (See TolkienGateway for the origins of wizards in Middle-Earth).  Is it because they’re both kind of loners by default, having very few true peers?  Is it because they do both value the less-powerful lives of their human/hobbit/dwarf/elf friends, and that love for humanity is seen by their foes as a weakness?  Is it forshadowing that Superman will a) fight some sort of ancient evil like the Balrog, or b) sacrifice himself to save others less powerful than he?  Is Superman going to “die” and be resurrected, the way Gandalf is, and actually the way Superman Returns ended?  Is it because, right before Gandalf falls, he whispers, “Fly, you fools!” and the trailer ends with Superman flying?  (That’s my favorite theory).

“Fly, you fools!”

I’m sure none of those comparisons were intended.  But Warner Brothers underestimates the accuracy of my nerd powers of recollection if they expect me not to notice this sort of thing.  And now all I can think about is, who would win in a duel of Gandalf vs. Superman?  Vote, and give your reasoning in the comments below.

I say Gandalf, with his staff.  If Superman can take the staff away, then he’d win.



Filed under movies, music, trailers

15 responses to “What Do Gandalf And Superman Have In Common?

  1. descalzo

    Superman would win. Though Gandalf has telekinetic powers with his staff, we’ve only seen them used at close range. He does have a beam of bright goodness that deters the Nazgul, but it is questionable if that would affect superman. Gandalf is known to be skilled in pyrotechnics, but there is nothing in his arsenal that would even slow superman down. Despite extremely high stamina, it is doubtful he can he resist ice breath, laser eyes, and mountains being thrown on him. I like Gandalf better, but unless he has a powerful stasis/paralysis spell, he has no hope but to use magic to evade and hide. This foe is beyond any of you…

    • hmm, well-reasoned…but is Gandalf able to conjure things? Things like kryptonite?

      • descalzo

        Possibly. Though to the best of my knowledge we haven’t seen him ever do that. (conjure or teleport things) That would also require a knowledge of his enemy and his weakness.

        In the movies, Gandalf uses surprisingly little magic in combat. Perhaps this is due to the extreme effort and focus it takes. I’m guessing we’ll see more of his pyro side in the Hobbit.

  2. descalzo

    Upon additional consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that Gandalf can beat Superman, but only if it’s a cage match, and if he’s on a team with Aragorn. Superman will see Aragorn as a harmless human and ignore him to focus on the more powerful enemy who is throwing fireballs and spells. After realizing his sword is worthless, Aragorn will resort to fisticuffs in a desperate attempt to help one of his oldest friends. What’s that? Superman is succumbing to the kidney shots! And as he turns to face the heir of Elendil, BAM! An uppercut to the jaw for the KO. Why can Aragorn take down Superman while the mighty Mithrandir cannot, you ask? Because he wears the ring of Barahir!


    Mysterious jewels that seem to burn with green fire and were crafted in a far off land that is not even on this planet? Sounds like Aragorn has some KRYPTONITE power in his punches!

  3. well, we at least know that Gandalf is “not a conjurer of cheap tricks!”

  4. a friend of mine who is a self-confessed comic book nerd says that Superman is susceptible to magic. So that tips the scales in Gandalf’s favor, especially if the wizard can somehow block out the sun.

  5. das werke

    “Fly, you fools!” “Love = Sacrifice”

  6. i see Hans Zimmer can compose, record, and release original music in a matter of days if he’s so inspired/inclined. why they couldn’t come up with something new for this teaser is still a mystery…

  7. Pedrovilla

    Our son came home incensed after hearing Bridge of Khazad-dum in the Man of Steel trailer. I had to hear it myself to believe anyone would dare such a blatant rip-off, but perhaps the intent was more of an homage, or as you say, intended to draw Gandalf fans into the world of Superman (there truly can be no comparison, however. Gandalf & LOtR are VASTLY superior to any comic book super hero). I am ashamed for Hans Zimmer & the studio that made Man of Steel for their lack of restraint/better judgement…

  8. well well well, it looks like they’ve re-released the same trailer but with new, original music. took them long enough. and this new music (heavily informed by existing Superman themes) actually makes me more excited for the movie anyway.

  9. Pingback: Man of Steel Movie Reaction | pagelady

  10. Pingback: Trailer Music: X-Men: Days of Future Past vs. Star Trek Into Darkness | pagelady

  11. Faleel

    Early LOTR trailers used Mother Africa from The Power of One by Hans Zimmer.

    So Hans Zimmer is just returning the favor 😉

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