Soundtracks are a vital part of film. A great soundtrack can help set the tone of a film. It can bring you into a film’s world, and it can also act as an intangible character in the story. For instance, legendary composer John Williams is an expert at creating memorable soundtracks. From movie theme songs like “The Raiders March” (Indiana Jones) to providing epic battle music such as “Duel of the Fates” (A Phantom Menace). Williams, along with other composers, have created the ultimate soundtrack to many of our childhoods.
In this top 5 list, I’ll countdown what I think are the Top 5 Greatest Comic Book Movie Soundtracks!
5. The Crow — Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
1994 was the year that we saw one of the most beautiful and tragic comic book stories come to the big screen, when Brandon Lee played Eric Draven in The Crow. Not only did the story make for a unique and powerful film, but the soundtrack played a huge part in the telling of the story. The film was not heavily scored, but all of the music featured in the movie really seemed fit for the vigilante and his story perfectly. The soundtrack featured the powerful song “Burn” by The Cure, which everyone who is a fan of comic book films can recall that epic scene where Eric Draven begins the transformation into The Crow. The soundtrack also included huge alternative bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, and it even featured the metal band Pantera. Also, most of the songs on the soundtrack were actually in the film, which is a rare thing when it’s a soundtrack that features nothing but various artists. This film would pave the way for films like Spawn, which also took notes from The Crow‘s soundtrack and featured a lot of huge alternative bands, metal bands and nu metal bands.
4. The Dark Knight — Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight series not only changed the way superhero movies would be made and looked at, but it would also up the ante in which superhero films would be composed. In 2008, composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard would make a soundtrack for The Dark Knight so epic that it heightened the intensity of numerous scenes in the film, exactly as a score should. In the film, Batman would get a new new theme to fit the Nolan’s updated version of Batman. It was big, powerful and intense, much like the title character. Not only did Batman get a new theme, but so did the Joker with “Why so Serious?”, a suite that mixed all of the Joker themes into one, which matched the character’s outlandish personality. The soundtrack won a grammy for Best Score Soundtrack in Visual Media and would peak at number 20 on the Billboard 200, with selling 25,000 copies in the first week. Zimmer would go on to compose The Dark Knight Rises without the help of Howard and would also compose other comic book films such as Man of Steel, Amazing Spider-Man 2 and is also the composer of the upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
3. Superman: The Movie — Original Soundtrack
Richard Donner‘s Superman featuring Christopher Reeves was as good as it could possibly be in the day and age of practical effects and limited green screen effects. Now how do you make the most powerful superhero have an equally powerful theme? You get the legendary John Williams. After composer Jerry Goldsmith dropped out of the project due to scheduling conflicts (Goldsmith would eventually score Superman III, and we all know how that ended up), Williams took over and made the most recognizable superhero theme song ever with the help of the London Symphony Orchestra. In 1978, the soundtrack was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Score and just two years later, Williams would end up winning Grammys for Best Instrumental Composition and Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture. The Superman theme song would be used in every Superman film opening (except Superman III) with varying arrangements, it was also used in a scene in the Supergirl film. Zack Snyder‘s Man of Steel was the first Superman film not to feature any of Williams’ themes.
2. Batman (1989) — Prince Soundtrack/Original Motion Picture Score
Let’s start off with the Prince soundtrack; Some of you may laugh at this one but truth is, Prince’s Batman (1989) soundtrack was amazing! Yes, that’s some nostalgia talking but let’s face it, not only was this the first time that we got to see the caped crusader on the big screen in a black suit but this was also the first time that a pop artist made his own album for a film and several music videos to go along with it. Songs such as “Trust” and “Partyman” were the back bone to iconic scenes in the film such as the Joker and his goons meeting Vicki Vale in an art gallery and defacing the paintings and statues (except for the one that he “kinda” liked). And whether you choose to remember or not, the “Batdance” was such a catchy tune. Prince’s Batman soundtrack hit number 1 on both the Billboard 200 chart and R&B Albums chart. Now let’s talk about the original motion picture score by another legendary composer, former Oingo Boingo frontman Danny Elfman. Much like what Williams did with the Superman theme, Elfman would create such a recognizable theme for Batman that it would be used in multiple films and even the beloved Batman: The Animated Series. The soundtrack peaked at 30 on the Billboard 200 chart. In 1990, Elfman went on to win a BMI Film & Television Award for the soundtrack and a grammy for Best Instrumental Composition for the Batman theme song.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy — Awesome Mix Vol. 1
Now coming in at number one is a very unique comic book film and an equally unique soundtrack. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t really have it’s own theme song but instead, made a whole soundtrack that would act as a theme song for the film. Taking hit songs from the 60’s and 70’s such as Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling”, Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky”, David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” and The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” the soundtrack would be the first soundtrack in history consisting entirely of previously released songs to hit number 1 on the Billboard charts. Though some of the music on the soundtrack is dated, the blending of the oldies with such a futuristic type of film, gave the film such a perfect balance and it would be a huge reason why different generations would enjoy the film. The music became a centerpiece of the film in which even the characters would actually acknowledge the music. Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 would hit number 1 on the US Billboard 200, US Billboard Top Soundtracks, US Billboard Top Rock Albums and US Billboard Top Digital Albums. With accolades like these, you can’t really argue with it being number 1.
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