The Music of the Bat: Connecting the ‘Batwoman’ Main Theme to Danny Elfman’s ‘Batman’

The CW’s Batwoman (now in its second season) is singlehandedly my favorite superhero show currently on the air, not to mention the reason I finally embraced comics and superhero stories. As a result, I’m constantly hyper-analyzing each episode as it airs, including the phenomenal music. In particular, I want to talk about Batwoman‘s short but impactful main title theme, as I feel it connects back to an even more iconic Bat theme: the main title of Batman as composed by Danny Elfman.

Now given the gap between the two (Batman premiering in 1989 and Batwoman starting in 2019), this may seem like quite the stretch, but hear me out, I have evidence.

To start, have a listen to Batwoman‘s main title theme below (the video itself is a fan-made series intro, but the music is accurate):

The Main Title for Batwoman is fairly short, but can be boiled down to the following four measure phrase as you can see below:

It’s a series of ascending notes that climaxes by stretching a full octave from E to E at the end. Very simple, but distinctly recognizable, an important feature for any main title theme from a TV show to have.

Now, for comparison, listen to the Main Title theme from Batman (1989). Pay particular attention to the first 50 seconds or so, as that contains the most important example for the point I’m trying to make:

Like the “Superman March”, the main theme for Batman is instantly recognizable and has been imitated or re-used outright in a number of Batman properties since, most famously in Batman: The Animated Series. There’s a lot going on in Danny Elfman’s Batman theme, but for the purposes of this discussion I’m condensing it down to four specific measures seen below:

At first glance, the main titles for Batwoman and Batman might not appear to be related at all, they don’t start on the same note, and the rhythm and melodies don’t quite match up. But look closer, look at how the notes for each go up and back down again when the phrase starts over. It’s the same melodic motion in each. In fact, to really see the resemblance, look at the theme for Batman, cut off that first half note in measures 1 and 3 and then look back at the theme for Batwoman; does it look more familiar now? I would be shocked if Batwoman composers Blake Neely and Sherri Chung did not borrow from Elfman’s Batman theme in some way, shape or form when they put the main title for Batwoman together. Given how closely related Kate Kane is to Bruce Wayne (first cousins to be specific), it makes perfect sense for the two musical themes to have a close relationship also, and that’s what I see and hear.

I find it incredibly cool that The CW’s Batwoman is musically connected to Tim Burton’s Batman. It shows, for one, that the legacy of that 1989 film continues to this day, and two, that Batwoman is firmly a part of the Batman universe.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look into how Batwoman and Batman musically connect.

Author: Becky O'Brien

I'm a 33 year old musicologist and blogger and I've had a lifelong obsession with film music, cartoon music, just about any kind of music!