Comic book films are all over cinema these days. While brining ink to live action can be a tough sell, it helps to find the right tunes that channel the spirit of the hand-drawn into the big screen. Below, we’ve gone through the reels to find 10 of the best comic book movie soundtracks of all time.
The Crow is a tragic classic that became an icon for emo teens everywhere. Highlights of the largely goth, metal and alternative soundtrack include the classic song ‘The Big Empty’ by Stone Temple Pilots, The Cure’s ‘Burn’ whose lyrics were actually quoted in the comic, and Nine Inch Nails’ take on Joy Division’s ‘Dead Souls’.
Stereogum dubs the Batman Forever soundtrack as the ‘quintessential big-budget superhero movie soundtrack’ that provided a template for superhero movies that followed. The songs were carefully chosen and fit spot on. Through the film, Seal transformed ‘Kiss From A Rose’ into the timeless ballad we know today. One of the more eccentric U2 songs ‘Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me’ was heavy on guitars and electronics but seemed to match the oddly dark, atmospheric songs perfectly.
Spawn’s awesome soundtrack popularized the genre mashup that became all the rage during the 90s. They had the crazy idea of pairing electronic artists and rockers for the album. The collaborations were oddly perfect: you’ve got Marylyn Manson rubbing shoulders with The Sneaker Pimps, Filter with The Crystal Method, and Slayer with Atari Teenage Riot.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
The cult classic about Canadian slacker/musician Scott Pilgrim has an awesome soundtrack that accompanies the gamer-inspired sequences, making it great fun to watch. Indie alternative songs from Beck, The Black Lips, T-Rex, Metric and Broken Social Scene all find their way into the scenes. The film also had a few in-movie songs like ‘We are Sex Bob-Omb’ performed by Pilgrim’s own band. The quirky soundtrack made it one of the most memorable comic book films in recent history.
Guardians of the Galaxy
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Guardians of the Galaxy, the film that made a retro mixtape for scavenging through the galaxies. With memorable songs like ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ and ‘Spirit in the Sky’, the soundtrack gave the movie character. David Bowie’s song, ‘Moonage Daydream’, was also featured as the crew entered the mining colony of Knowhere. Bowie had the help of guitarist Mick Ronson, who has a trippy out-of-this-world guitar solo in the song. In an interview for a documentary about rock n’ roll, Mick Ronson showed off the Dunlop Cry Baby Classic Wah pedal which he used to achieve his signature sound during David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust era. The solo, and the song as a whole, fits well with the spunky futuristic theme the film was going for.
Ryan Reynolds portrays the ‘wise-cracking anti-hero’ brilliantly, and the humor resonates even with the music choice. While most of the soundtrack consists of a pumping electronic score, the film’s peppered with oddities like George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’, Neil Sedaka’s ‘Calendar Girl’, Salt-N-Pepa’s ‘Shoop’ and Juice Newton’s ‘Angel of the Morning’. You wouldn’t normally find these tracks together in one album, but the oddball of a movie just seems to make it all work.
Lori Petty’s foul-mouthed cult indie character was spunky and rebellious, and the soundtrack paired well with her character. One of the most memorable tracks in the film was Joan Jett and Paul Westerberg’s punk rock version of ‘Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love’. Even Devo redid their own song ‘Girl U Want’. Other artists on the soundtrack were L7, Belly and Veronica Salt, Bjork, Portishead and Hole; all coming together to produce a punk-and-glitter soundtrack.
Tim Burton’s first film for the franchise captured the ‘dark carnival’ nature of the movie wonderfully. Much of the soundtrack was largely attributed to Prince who wrote an entire album for the soundtrack. The songs were full of funky dance tracks, ballads and eclectic samples in true Prince fashion. ‘Batdance’ even went on to become a number one hit single due to the film’s success.
For a film with such broad and complex themes, its soundtrack hits the mark phenomenally. The somber vibe of the film was communicated through timeless pieces like Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are a-Changing’, Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujiah’ and Simon and Garfunkle’s ‘The Sound of Silence’. My Chemical Romance even did an unforgettable a cover of Dylan’s ‘Desolation Row’.
The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is one of the most celebrated Batman films to date. The score, composed by Hans Zimmer, is just as celebrated. The soundtrack takes elements from Batman Begins, but has a darker and more complex score. The Batman Main Theme is hauntingly epic and makes you feel as if you’re running the streets of Gotham too.