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).
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.