Howdy ladies and gents, time for another superhero-related post. This is a subject matter I've wanted to talk about for almost two years now, With superheroes being one of the most popular genres of film in modern times, the topic of theme songs have come up in discussions in online videos and comment sections I've seen across several websites. And there have been discussions about which popular themes are the best or why newer films don't try harder with to have more memorable main themes. So with all that in mind I wanted to focus on the subject of superhero themes are whether they still have relevance today.
With superheroes, in most adaptations they have a theme song (sometimes referred to as a main theme) which you associate with the hero as much as you do their name, costume or catchphrase. These themes will either play in the opening or ending credits of a film or TV show or will appear during the film in a heroic/iconic moment.
What Are The Popular Themes?
Its should come as no suprise that most notable themes come from the most popular superheroes of all time, Batman and Superman. Besides the fact that they'll be sharing a film next year (which is still strange to wrap my head around), long before their epic meeting, they had separate films with quite iconic themes that can be recognised even by general film fans. The most famous of the two is the "Theme from Superman (Main Title)" from the godly John Williams and the "Batman Theme" from the amazing Danny Elfman. Just have a listen below:
With the Superman theme I think it transcends the film it is part of, this is honestly one of the most recognisable pieces of music in film and you don't even need a visual aid to know what it is. I think that is the beauty of John Williams; the fact that he can craft such incredibly, uplifting, beastly and memorable music that can stand the test of time. I hate to gush on about this theme, but it honestly gives me goosebumps because it's that badass.
When it comes to Batman's theme, it feels approach for the Dark Knight. It is dark, mysterious, its loud and bombastic, yet soft, quiet and it swells and then explodes. I think the reason why this theme is so popular is because it just feels like it belong within the realm of Batman and has the right tone and gives you something fun, atmospheric and really cool. Elfman creates something so special that feels so perfect, but I think why I appreciate this theme so much is because it was the inspiration for the intro theme for Batman: The Animated Series which is still til this day, one of my all-time favourite themes to anything ever.
But the themes don't end there. Have look below.
Main Theme From The Dark Knight Trilogy
We also have the main theme from The Dark Knight Trilogy too. Now while this film series doesn't have an official track that says 'Main Theme', the song that's pretty much the key theme throughout this film series is "Molossus" introduced in Batman Begins. That theme is dramatic, aggressive and so intimidating, its like the badass theme to end all badass themes, and Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard did such a good job.
Main Theme From Man of Steel
And then of course there's the main theme from Man of Steel known as "What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World?" This theme is pretty famous because it was in trailers and pretty much helped sell this new incarnation of Superman. I think it may be the most epic superhero theme in existence as its so quiet and calm, and yet it builds and builds and then explodes into this beastly theme that makes you shiver and get all giddy about the epicness you're listening to. While I didn't love Man of Steel, I cannot deny the badassery of this theme.
Ignored Main Themes
Main Theme Spider-Man
Now some may wonder why I've put one of the most popular superhero themes in the ignored segment, and it is simple. This theme isn't talked about or recognised nearly as much as the ones mentioned above. I think it is no mistake that Danny Elfman was brought on to do another superhero theme after what he did with Batman in the late 80's, here he crafts a theme that is eery, mysterious, heroic and badass. This theme oozes of charisma, beauty and awesomeness in an indescribable manner, and while I prefer the instrumentation of the Spider-Man 2 version, there is no denying the epicness of this song.
Main Theme From The Avengers
Much like Spider-Man's theme, this theme is pretty awesome and yet doesn't get nearly as much love as it should. "The Avengers" by Alan Silvestri is the definition of a good theme song. It has a classic sound to it, and it's so uplifting, magical and heroic, but it is towards the latter half around 1:05 into the song where it turns badass and grows into orchestrated awesomeness. When this theme comes into play in Avengers and the team are seen together for the fist time on-screen it is a special and epic moment and music just elevates it to another level. This track is short but it has a sense of epicness that cannot be denied.
Main Theme From X-Men
While this particular track is pretty long, it has the main theme right at the beginning and towards the very end of the track. John Ottman was the first composer to leave an impression on the X-Men films series and it wasn't until Henry Jackman came around that I heard another soundtrack that stood out, that being said Ottman's theme from X-Men 2 still cool. It's intense, dramatic and awesome, and this theme must be pretty notable as they brought it back for X-Men: Days of Future Past (which made me SO happy).
Main Theme From Iron Man 3
The Iron Man films up until this point hadn't had an official main theme, but in 2013 we got given "Iron Man 3" by Brian Tyler. Now with Tyler his soundtracks tend to be a bit hit or miss, but this was definitely a hit as he finally gave Iron Man a theme that was dramatic, hard-hitting and epic. The inclusions of the angelic backing vocals and something that sounds like a hammer hitting metal, it is just so beastly. Make no mistake, Iron Man 3 as a film has its problems for sure, but this track really is something special. I will say that I prefer "Can You Dig It" as it is way more sassy, jazzy and feels like it belongs in a 1960's spy show.
Main Theme From Ant-Man
Ant-Man may not be universally loved by fans, but I liked it and one of my favourite aspects of the film was the soundtrack by Christophe Beck and "Theme from Ant-Man" is just awesome. This theme is sassy, bombastic and it just has such a nice sense of style and identity. Beck is another one of those composers that's a bit up and down with his soundtrack compositions but this theme is kick ass.
Main Theme From Batman Forever
I think I may lose a lot of people by including this track, but screw it! Batman Forever may be the starting point for the decline in quality for the Batman films in the 90's, but Forever, I still kind of like it and the theme song is definitely a big part of that. "Main Titles & Fan Fare" by Elliot Goldenthal has such a sense dramatic flare, charisma, style and its over-the-top but because of the nature of Forever as a film, this theme sounds just right.
So Do Themes Matter?
So now for the big question; do superhero themes matter? I would say yes for sure. It's always nice to have music to associate with your favourite superheroes and while that's been available in cartoons and certain live-action shows for a while now, I think it is just as important in films so you have another key aspect that makes your protagonist more memorable. Now for current superhero films they aren't a requirement as fans and critics aren't that fussed and will give a pass to a superhero film if the story, characters and presentation are top-notch. That being said, it was around 2012 when some people started saying that the. With big films like Batman V Superman and Captain America: Civil War coming out next year there will need to be theme songs or key tracks in the soundtrack to enhance the action on-screen or I think some fans and critics will feel robbed. And then in the future we'll see the like of Wonder Woman, Marvel's Spider-Man, Justice League and Avengers Infinity War parts 1 & 2 and those will be films that will require themes and soundtracks that are interesting, dramatic and memorable or I believe it will be a wasted opportunity.
So that's my feelings on this subject, hopefully you've found this informative and like what I've had to say and share. But now I pass it over to you, what do you think of superhero themes in film and do you think they're still relevant? Please be sure to comment below and let me know. Until next time, laters! :D