What words come to mind when you think about Wonder Woman? Fierce, passionate and inspiring, maybe? Unique, trendsetting and a true original? Fittingly, you can say the same things about Tina Guo, the fiery cellist who first made her mark on comic book fans when she was hired by Hans Zimmer to assist with the score for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. If you’ve heard Wonder Woman’s iconic theme, you’ve heard Guo. She’s behind that unforgettable rockstar riff at its heart.
Since then, Guo has continued to compile a passionate fan following while building on an already remarkable career, playing on the soundtracks to movies like Wonder Woman, Dunkirk and the upcoming Dune, along with games like Call of Duty II, III and IV, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Cyberpunk 2077. She’s garnered over 50 million views on YouTube, driven by her distinct covers of songs including Game of Thrones’ “The Rains of Castamere” and The Witcher’s “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher.”
In short, Guo isn’t your typical cellist. So, when Zimmer returned to score the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984, it’s hardly surprising that he’d invite her back to add to Diana Prince’s musical legacy. Transported to a slightly more modern era, the WW84 score boasts a wider, more orchestral sound, something that the classically trained Guo embraced.
With the WW84 soundtrack’s latest single, “Open Road,” newly released for streaming and the movie set to debut in theaters and on HBO Max in exactly two weeks, it felt like a good time to catch up with Guo and discuss what we can expect from her latest dance with Diana. In the process, we asked her what she thinks of the Wonder Woman theme now that it’s become defining, learned the surprising DC character she’d love to create music for and discovered her favorite band to come out of the 1980s. (Headbangers may want to pay attention.)
Your cello is a huge part of what’s become Wonder Woman’s theme. This song is likely to endure in the minds of fans for generations. How does that feel?
I’m incredibly grateful, it feels incredibly empowering and inspires me to continue doing as much as I can to create more music and art. I also want to go back in time to the nerdy, lonely bespectacled orchestra nerd that I was, pat her on the head, and tell her not to be so sad…and that one day soon, she will figure out who she is!
Let’s go back to the beginning. How did you get first get involved with scoring DC movies?
My friend Hans (Zimmer) asked me to work on Batman v Superman with him a few years back, and this is the first place the Wonder Woman theme appeared. I owe so much to Hans and am forever grateful for his friendship and mentorship over the past decade.
With Wonder Woman 1984, the franchise and the soundtrack get transported to the 1980s. Does that mean we can expect a lot of electric cello?
There is a bit of electric cello, but the music in WW84 is different in that the character has evolved along with her theme. It’s more lush, complex, orchestral… I also recorded acoustic cello on this soundtrack!
The soundtrack’s newest single, “Open Road,” sounds amazing. It’s big and brassy in places (almost like a James Bond score) and very ‘80s synth in others. What was it like recording that one?
I loved recording on “Open Road”! I played the Wonder Woman theme on this track, recording at Remote Control Productions (Hans’ studio) with the awesome Eva Reistad engineering. It’s always a great time getting to work with the team at RCP—everyone has such an incredible work ethic and a great attitude. I’m super lucky to get to make music for a living, with friends and unlimited coffee.
Wonder Woman stands for many different ideals—truth, courage, compassion and female empowerment to name a few. Are there any that particularly resonate with you?
1000%! All of these things resonate deeply. I love that Wonder Woman is incredibly powerful and strong, but also compassionate and feminine. To me, she is the ultimate manifestation of the divine feminine—strength without brashness and the perfect blend of yin and yang. I can only hope to reach that balance through conscious self-improvement and daily work.
So far your DC work has been most associated with Wonder Woman. Is there another DC hero or villain you’d love a chance to work on? Any others you’re a particularly big fan of?
Ever since I was a kid and watched Superman and Smallville, I’ve always had a fascination with Lex Luthor! Hyper-intelligent with a brilliant mind for business and science, an idealist—and unlike some other villains who are purely evil for greed or cruelty, Lex always thinks that he is doing what’s best for humanity. It may not be a view shared by others, but in his own mind he is always attempting to help the greater good. I love that his character is complex, violent, romantic and a bit tragic. I’d love to create some amazing music for his character! It would be such an amazing journey expressing these intricacies of his character through music.
Finally, what’s your favorite ‘80s band or artist?
Ahh! The 80’s was such a golden age for Heavy Metal! There were so many great bands and albums, but my very favorite would have to be Metallica. Master of Puppets (1986) is a classic.
Wonder Woman 1984, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal, debuts December 25th in theaters and on HBO Max.
Wonder Woman 1984: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack will be released December 18th. Click here to order or stream.