Danny Elfman's Batman. In the rescue/fight scenes they get various modern-style groove-based action cues (but not melodically connected really). The retired members of the Minutemen get more wistful string-based textures, harkening back to "the good old days".
All of these stylistic references work very well in the picture, since Watchmen is at heart an ironic/dark take on traditional superhero film tropes. Bates had a team of several people helping him out with orchestration and electronics, and because of this (and the way the characters' themes were designed as described above), the full score can have a somewhat schizophrenic tone, but it works well enough in the film, especially as textural and connective material in between the revealing "jukebox hits".
Despite seeming initially "athematic" on the first few listens, it's an enjoyable experience as a fractured narrative (which it essentially is in many respects). Finally, the track cue "Just Look Around You" stands as the heart of the film. It doesn't aim for any referential textures, but it perfectly captures and enhances an important and complex emotional climax.
In the chronological breakdown below, ST indicates the Various Artists soundtrack and "web" indicates a cue found on Timothy Williams' website ("Score" is pretty self-explanatory). Beneath the titles are the track durations for original underscore, or the year of release of the licensed music (which often skillfully informs the film-goer the time period of a flashback).
|Nat King Cole||Source music from a Veidt
TV commercial: the Comedian (Eddie) is attacked in his home by a masked assailant. He is defeated and thrown out the
window to his death.
"Just a matter of time, I suppose."
|ST 3||The Times They Are A-Changin'
|Bob Dylan||Opening montage of historical events involving the rise and fall of the Minutemen, and then the Watchmen.|
|Score 3||Tonight the Comedian Died
|Tyler Bates||0:00: Former Watchman/current vigilante
Rorschach investigates a murder scene ("Rorschach's Journal" voice-over). (Rorschach Investigation texture: ambient textures/pulsing bass/murky impacts/howling winds, rhythmic electronics).
0:54: Rorschach reaches the victim's balcony. He realizes it's the Comedian's place. (de-tuned piano motif, ambient textures with more piano ornaments/electronic sirens).
2:00: Rorschach uncovers the Comedian's hidden armory (distant slam, bass pulsing/piano tremolo/sinister humming/etc).
|Score 6||You Quit!
|Tyler Bates||After Rorschach leaves Dan (Nite
Owl II), he walks the dark, rainy streets and resolves not to compromise even in
the face of Armageddon (Rorschach Noir texture: noir electric guitar and pulsing synths).
|Score 7||Only Two Names Remain
|Tyler Bates||While reflecting on how
dysfunctional the Watchmen became, Rorschach breaks into a military research
facility to see Jon (Dr. Manhattan) and Laurie (Silk Spectre) (electronic "mission" rhythms/suspense music with echoes/bass pulses).
|Nena||Laurie meets Dan for dinner.|
|Score 5||We'll Live Longer
|Tyler Bates||Laurie tells Dan that Jon thinks
nuclear war is coming, and that she feels distant from her super-powered husband (soft noir-ish strings/ethereal synth figures).
"I think the Keene Act was the best thing that ever happened to us."
"Well, we'll live longer anyway."
|ST 4||The Sound of Silence
|Simon & Garfunkel||Rainy blue montage of heroes gathering for the Comedian's coffin burial.|
|Score 10||The Last Laugh
|Tyler Bates||Sally Jupiter
reflects on the Comedian in California. The Comedian's coffin is buried in NY (soft strings/synth/brass figures, sad/resigned).
"It rains on the just and the unjust alike. The Comedian was a little bit of both. And he always thought he'd get the last laugh."
|ST 11||Ride of the Valkyries
(from Die Walkure, 1856)
Budapest Symphony Orchestra
|At the ceremony, Jon remembers the Comedian: Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian terrorize the Vietcong "Apocalypse Now" style.|
|ST 5||Me and
|Janis Joplin||Flashback: Source music on
jukebox as a pregnant Vietnamese girl approaches the Comedian. Eddie kills the girl and Jon does nothing
to stop him.
"That's right......and you know what? You watched me. You really don't give a damn about human beings... You're drifting out of touch, Doc."
|ST 6||I'm Your Boogie Man
|KC and the Sunshine Band||Dan's graveside memories of the Comedian: a protest riot
gathers during a police strike. The
Nite Owl and the Comedian arrive, and the Comedian gets out of control.
"Goddamn, I love working on American soil, Dan."
|Score 8||The American Dream
|Tyler Bates||0:00: Flashback continues: In
the aftermath of the riot, Eddie tells Dan that masked heroes will soon be
outlawed (tragic trumpet/strings/timpani).
"What the hell happened to us? What happened to the American Dream?"
"What happened to the American Dream? It came true! You're looking at it"0:57: In the present, the burial ceremony concludes. Rorschach follows the Comedian's former arch-villain Moloch home (ethereal synth/el. guitar looping/high choir/piano/percussion).
|Score 9||Edward Blake/
|Tyler Bates||0:00: Moloch tells Rorschach that he
has terminal cancer (low sustained textures).
0:32: Rorschach walks through the rainy streets, reflecting on the Comedian's enigmatic visit to Moloch (flashback montage) (Rorschach Noir texture with additional synth lead figures)
1:52: Rorschach reflects on the story of Pagliacci (electric slide guitar solo begins).
|ST 7||You're My Thrill
|Billie Holiday||Source music: Dr. Manhattan makes love to Laurie as two of his duplicates.|
|ST 2||Unforgettable||Nat King Cole||Source music, TV: Laurie visits Dan after leaving Jon.|
(Act II.3 from "Satyagraha",
|("Protest" credited, but unreleased film track is different, Glass possibly used as a temp only) Laurie leaves Jon. Jon reflects on an old picture of Janie and himself (soft textures and Manhattan Clockwork string rhythms/piano/choir).|
|Something She Has to Do
(from The Hours,
|("Something She Has to Do" credited, but unreleased film track is different, Glass possibly used as a temp only) Laurie confides in Dan about Jon's distant behavior. Jon gets dressed and arrives at the TV Station (string theme with high piano figures, cello tremolo, all building to Manhattan Clockwork with strings/choir).|
|Score 15||What About Janey Slater?
|Tyler Bates||While interviewed on TV, Jon is told that his
ex-girlfriend Janie has been suffering from cancer. Janie
speaks up and blames Jon. Jon makes
everyone disappear (quiet flutes leading to tremolo figures on strings/timpani/brass/choir - ie Manhattan Clockwork textures).
|Philip Glass||(Manhattan Clockwork texture all the way.)
0:00: Prophecies: Dr. Manhattan arrives on Mars. He reflects randomly on his life: childhood, relationship with Janey Slater, his accident and history (flashback montage).
3:32: Pruit Igoe: Dr. Manhattan's accident transforms him (briefly intercut with childhood).
"Oh God. Jon?"5:29: Prophecies: He becomes a part of America's armed forces.
7:30: Dr. Manhattan becomes interested in Laurie and breaks up with Janie.
|Everybody Wants to Rule the World
|Tears For Fears/
Studio Group (muzak version)
|Source music at elevator bank, as Veidt (Ozymandias) talks about Alexander the Great and his own plan to destroy the energy barons of the world.|
|The elevator door opens and an assassin opens fire (high strings into suspense and accelerating action rhythm on brass/strings/percussion/choir, ending on subdued textures).|
|(web)||Moloch Is Dead
|0:00: While investigating Veidt's would-be assassin, Rorschach discovers Moloch dead and is framed. The police move to surround the
building (brass accent, suspense textures with rhythmic "mission" music episodes).
"I hope you're ready, hero."
"When you are."0:31: The police move in ("mission" strings, brass accents, ambient Rorschach Investigation texture, brass accents).
|Rorschach fights the police but
is overcome by numbers. His mask is removed (lurching and them rhythmic action figures with brass/drums/piano/string rhythms, male choir).
|Score 16||I'll Tell You About Rorschach
|Tyler Bates||Rorschach begins telling the
prison psychiatrist about a disturbing kidnap case (flashback montage). In the flashback, when the killer
confesses, a disturbed Rorschach kills him anyways (Rorschach Investigation texture: echoey percussive noises, low piano accents/ambient textures/ synth/electronic swells/pulses/buzzing).
|(Score 21)||I Love You
|Tyler Bates||After Laurie accidentally fires the Owlship's flame throwers, Dan comes down and they flirt (pastoral el. guitars, joined by soft strings, edit of first half of track 21).|
|Score 13||Dan's Apocalyptic Dream
|Tyler Bates||In a dream, a naked Dan and Laurie embrace, become costumed, and then are destroyed in a nuclear explosion (ambient textures/siren-like figures, building to climax with a subtle scream).|
|Score 4||Silk Spectre (Owl Ship)
|Dan and Laurie decide to suit up
and go for a ride (Hero Fanfare: rhythmic choir/brass swells over harp/brass fanfares/string rhythm).
"Let's take Archie out."
|Tyler Bates||Dan and Laurie see a burning building with kids inside. Dan blasts open a water tower to reduce the flames. Laurie drops into the building and ushers the kids to the Owlship as the building explodes (electronic beats become a heroic march/groove with heavy guitar/drums/choir/brass/strings).|
|Leonard Cohen||Dan and Laurie get turned on by their own heroism.|
|Score 11||Prison Fight
|Tyler Bates||Dan and Laurie fight through inmates during a prison riot in order to find Rorschach (heavy rock groove with added electronics).|
|Score 2||Don't Get Too Misty Eyed
|Tyler Bates||Hollis Mason gives Sally Jupiter a long-distance call to reminisce, just before he is killed by Top-Knot street punks ("old-fashioned" melancholy/sweet figures in violins/celli with some supportive wind/horn figures).|
|Waylon Jennings||Source music on jukebox: Dan and Rorschach interrogate a thug in a bar for clues to the conspiracy.|
|Score 14||Who Murdered Hollis Mason?
|Tyler Bates||After seeing a news report of
Hollis' murder, Dan goes berserk.
Rorschach ends up restraining him (Rorschach Investigation texture, building strings/choir leading to Hero Fanfare).
|Score 12||Just Look Around You
|Tyler Bates||0:00: While in his floating Mars city, Dr Manhattan tells
Laurie that life is insignificant (ambient/ticking textures becoming poignant strings/choir/brass/winds, harp/strings).
1:38: (partially unused) Jon shows Laurie a cross-temporal view of things (Flashback: Sally and her husband fight over Eddie).
1:56: Flashback of Eddie being friendly with Laurie after the first Watchmen meeting. Laurie sees that the Comedian was actually her father.
2:53: With her vision over, an upset Laurie pounds on and destroys Jon's crystal city. Jon comforts her and claims her birth to be a miracle (sweeping figures become more strident, joined by Manhattan Clockwork tremolo in celli, joined by chorus, swooping synth/cymbal, smaller more sympathetic figures on winds/harp/strings, brass/low strings, resolute swells with more vocal elements).
|ST 10||All Along the Watchtower
|The Jimi Hendrix Experience||Pull back from Mars to show smiley face. Dan and Rorschach speed towards Antarctica
to confront Veidt at his Karnak base. The
Owlship crashlands, and the two continue on foot. Veidt sees their approach on his
monitors. They enter his compound.
"Adrian's a pacifist, a vegetarian, for chrissakes. He's never killed anyone in his life."
|Tyler Bates||0:00: (edit) Dan and Rorschach attack
Veidt in his HQ. Veidt explains his
actions and motives while easily fending off his former team mates (brass swells as Hero Fanfares and fight action rhythms, intercut with longer suspense textures).
"Of course, my moral safeguards gave me pause at the necessary sacrifice."1:24: Veidt reveals that he triggered his nuclear Armageddon plan 35 minutes prior to their confrontation. A bomb is teleported to NYC. A street scene follows as wristwatches stop and citizens look up. The bomb begins its final implosion cycle (suspense rhythms building with poignant rising brass/drums/choir).
2:06: Veidt's bomb goes off in Times Square, decimating the city (dramatic/sweeping chorus/strings).
|Score 18||It Was Me
|Tyler Bates||Henry Kissinger tells President
Nixon that the explosion was caused by Dr. Manhattan. Jon and Laurie arrive in the ruins of
NYC. He realizes Veidt framed him and
teleports the two of them to Veidt's Antarctic Karnak base (rhythmic strings/piano, high violin tremolo, building to Manhattan Clockwork texture joined by ambient swells/piano).
|Veidt disintegrates Dr.
Manhattan in a trap. Laurie shoots
Veidt. He feigns injury, but then
knocks her down (violin suspense, building choir/brass, male choir/suspense strings/brass, brief Hero Fanfare).
"Veidt, you bastard! If you've hurt her, I'll - "
"Dan. Grow up."
|Veidt taunts Dan, but a gigantic
Dr. Manhattan suddenly appears (quiet textures, drums kick off brass swells/ticking/rhythmic strings, quiet textures with subtle Manhattan Clockwork string tremolo/choir, swelling suspense cadence).
Veidt moves to turn on the TV for his final endgame move.
|Score 19||All That Is Good
"This is a day we shall never forget. And yet, we go forward to defend the human race, and all that is good and just in our world."0:00: After Nixon announces that WW III is averted and the world is now united against a greater evil (Dr. Manhattan), Veidt and the others decide whether this deception should be exposed or not. Rorschach resists (ambient textures joined by Manhattan Clockwork electric guitar looping/piano, then low strings/brass, electronic ornaments/Clockwork strings/trumpet, fateful brass/strings/choir).
2:32: Dr. Manhattan confronts Rorschach outside in the snow and eventually kills him for the greater good (previous texture developed: el. guitar looping/synth/piano/cymbal rhythm, joined by voices/strings/brass/etc, building in intensity, ending with falling soprano voice, subtle electronics).
4:07: Dr. Manhattan tells Laurie he's leaving the galaxy and then departs (building tremolo strings/brass/choir).
|Score 20||Requiem (excerpt from
|Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart||Dan and Laurie give Veidt withering looks and then depart Karnak. The Owlship flies off.|
|Score 21||I Love You
|Tyler Bates||0:00: In California, Dan interrupts a heart to
heart between Laurie and her mother Sally (pastoral el. guitars, joined by soft strings).
1:20: Montage of scenes of the destroyed cities being rebuilt, ending inside the offices of the New Frontiersman (drums and bass enter with el. slide guitar solo, strings take over).
|ST 1||Desolation Row
|My Chemical Romance||As a New Frontiersman writer
gazes at Rorschach's journal, Rorschach's voice-over reads his opening
"Rorschach's journal, October 12th, 1985. Tonight, a comedian died in New York."End credits song 1.
|First We Take Manhattan
|Leonard Cohen||End credits song 2.|
|Tyler Bates||End credit addendum for Ultimate Edition.|
|The Beginning is the End is the Beginning (remixes)||Smashing Pumpkins||Theatrical Trailer 1|
|Take a Bow (Black Holes and Revelations)||Muse||Theatrical Trailer 2|
|Angel (Mezzanine)||Massive Attack||TV spot|
Miscellaneous additional source cues include The Outer Limits (1963): Theme, Panic (Dominic Frontiere), The Outer Limits Control Voice (Vic Perrin), and the 80's MTV Theme ('Man On The Moon', Jonathan Elias and John Petersen). A little over half an hour of original film score remains unreleased. Bates also composed music (unreleased) for the animated side-feature "Tales of the Black Freighter" and the tie-in video-game "Watchmen: The End Is Nigh".
Interview with Tyler Bates
Tyler Bates Homepage (includes "Shipwrecked" from Tales of the Black Freighter)
Tyler Bates demonstrates the GuitarViol and analyzes "All That Is Good"
Timothy Williams Additional Music