As a music columnist (just go with it), I look for every opportunity to marry my two greatest loves- Ryan Gosling and chocolate.
Ha! No. Well, yes, but seriously- any chance I get to make a connection between the two worlds of comics and music, count me in. Considering the shitty films we've been subjected to this summer, that gives me all the more reason to look back on the most badass collaborations between superheroes, supernerds and supersavants- the Comic Book Movie Soundtrack.
Unfortunately for the Comic Book Movie, most of them have the distinction of being pretty fucking terrible. For every The Dark Knight, there's a Batman & Robin (I think I just got inspired for a new round of SMAC!). This was a particularly difficult list to compile because a lot of films in this genre are scored and don't use a lot of songs in general. However, the ones that do decide to go the soundtrack route usually make good use of their decision.
Qualifications include having both a major comic book or graphic novel arc and a killer soundtrack. This leaves out breathtakingly abysmal pieces of shit such as Green Lantern (sorry, Reynolds), The Green Hornet, Fantastic Four 1 AND 2, both Men In Blacks, Daredevil, Elektra and The Spirit. Unfortunately, this also invalidates Sin City, 300, Hellboy 1 and 2, Dick Tracy, A History of Violence, Road to Perdition, Ghost World, V for Vendetta, The Rocketeer (Fuck you! I like that movie!), and, somewhat to my dismay, all of the X-Men films, which have instrumental scores. Observe the list, laugh, cry, break shit, whatever.
CAUTION: There are some spoilers in this post if you haven't read the books or seen the movies. So if you still scroll down, don't get pissed at me or anything.
Batman first made his appearance in DC Comics #27 in 1939 and has had six films made about him, the first being Tim Burton's Batman in 1989. Batman also holds the honor of having both the best and worst biopics on this list- while The Dark Knight is not only my favorite comic book movie but also one of the most finely crafted and well-casted films I've ever seen in general, Batman & Robin is one of the most unintentionally hilarious movies I recommend you not watch unless under threat of slow, searing gas pain.
The character of Batman is seriously screwed up. If you think about it, he's some dude with serious parental issues, running around in a cape thinking that he's solving everyone's issues when actually, people just want him to shut the fuck up with that annoying voice. That's not an original concept or anything- if you take away the costume, you just described all my exes.
Three of the six Batman movies were scored (Batman Returns, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight), and three of them had soundtracks. We'll cover the soundtracked movies here, because even though they weren't that great, the albums are pretty kick-ass.
The soundtrack to 1989's Batman was written, produced and performed entirely by Prince, with some guest vocals. It sold three million copies domestically and was number one on the Billboard charts for six weeks. Even if the album sucked, which it totally didn't, it was still created by Prince, which is an automatic win.
Batman Forever, 1995
Batman Forever is one of the best music compilations I've ever heard. I still listen to most of these bands- I'm a HUGE fan of The Offspring and probably have half their catalog on my iPod. As it turns out, a lot of people agreed with me- it sold almost as much as Prince's Batman soundtrack and also reached #1 on the charts.
Too bad the movie sucked balls. I always feel kind of sorry for any film that's awful and is riding on the success of another media collaboration.
Here's a list of the most download-worthy tracks on the CD:
Smash- The Offspring
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me- U2
Tell Me Now- Mazzy Star
There Is A Light- Nick Cave
The Passenger- Michael Hutchence
The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game- Massive Attack with Tracy Thorn
Kiss From A Rose- Seal (I'm not a huge fan of this one, but it won like a zillion Grammys, so I thought I would include it)
Also, here are some more artists featured on the album. I don't necessarily like all of them, but seeing as how this was the mid-nineties, these are all excellent choices for a collaborative CD.
Sunny Day Real Estate
The Flaming Lips
Batman & Robin, 1997
If it's possible, this one was even worse than Batman Forever. I remember that I actually saw this movie in theaters with the kid I was babysitting and even he wanted his money back. It was laughably, supremely awful. Another crime this film has committed: it makes me NOT want to look at George Clooney's rubber nipples. Shame on you, Batman & Robin.
If you insist on watching this movie, you should probably just fast forward to Uma Thurman's scenes as Poison Ivy. They are hilarious.
Youtube wouldn't let me embed this, but here's a brief preview:
The soundtrack, however, is pretty decent. There's a few choice tracks on there, and some really popular artists- back in 1997. R.E.M. is one of my all-time favorites, and I've had a rebirth of ladywood for Smashing Pumpkins ever since I saw them live last summer.
Foolish Games- Jewel
The End Is The Beginning Is The End- Smashing Pumpkins
The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning- Smashing Pumpkins
Some artists that are featured on the soundtrack that I'm not totally into, but are worth mentioning as a lot of people were listening to them back then:
Goo Goo Dolls
R. Kelly (I would make a joke here, but everything's already been done, so I'll just let it go)
I'm ignoring the sequels and intended remake because The Crow is such an amazing movie and graphic novel. I love Bradley Cooper, but he makes no sense for this franchise and I am so worried that this reboot is going to be really stupid. So I'll just console myself with Netflix.
At any rate, The Crow's musical compilation features a ton of bands that I love, some performing tracks written by even more bands that I love. The standout is definitely Nine Inch Nails' interpretation of Joy Division's "Dead Souls." It was the first time I ever experienced an eargasm, only I didn't know what it was because I was like, six or something.
Here are the most noteworthy tracks on the CD:
Dead Souls- Nine Inch Nails (originally performed by Joy Division)
Burn- The Cure
Darkness- Rage Against The Machine
Big Empty- Stone Temple Pilots
Ghostrider- Rollins Band
And as usual, a list of other artists featured on the album:
Jesus and Mary Chain
The IRON MAN Franchise (Thanks to Shells for reminding me about this one)
I really dug the first Iron Man film. I could totally get into a comic book movie that was tailored to adults, yet still shamelessly exploited the wants and needs of little kids. Plus they could have turned the camera on Robert Downey, Jr. while he toured a box factory for two hours and I would have stood in line for three days and bought twelve tickets at retail price.
The music featured in the first film was all scored by Ramin Djawadi, but the guitar pieces were done by Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, so I was still superexcited.
The second movie, unfortunately, wasn't as enjoyable. It focused too much on Gwyneth Paltrow's unnaturally shiny legs and nasally indigestion voice. The soundtrack, however, was basically a showcase of my #mostfavoritestartistsEVER playlist, so it definitely makes my list. Some of the bands on the soundtrack include AC/DC, who are featured prominently throughout the movie, The Clash, Beastie Boys, Queen and Daft Punk.
And of course, if you hadn't figured this out by now, Ozzy's classic "Iron Man" plays in both films. The way it cuts into the ending of the first Iron Man is epic.
I saw this movie opening day and immediately fell in love with it. I have no idea why it performed so poorly. I do have my theories, though.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is based on the second in a series of graphic novels released in 2004. The Scott Pilgrim movie is maybe the most exact description of the words "graphic novel film" that anyone has ever come up with.
The entire movie is like a giant video game. Enemies turn into coins, Scott Pilgrim has a scene where he fights the evil version of himself, and there's a pop culture reference every ten seconds. There was a character named Stephen Stills, and I was the ONLY ONE in the theater that laughed. I CAN'T be that nerdy. Or can I?
The music in the movie is not only great, it's fun. Scott Pilgrim is like the high schooler's Google Reader version of High Fidelity. Scott Pilgrim's band, The Sex Bob-ombs ( a Mario Bros. reference- and I was NOT the only one that caught that), performs music written by Beck, and the songs by their rivals, Crash and the Boys, are composed by Broken Social Scene. The band Clash at Demonhead, meanwhile, was inspired by Metric, who my friend E was listening to years ago, before anyone knew who they were. E, BTW, is chilling somewhere in the UK right now, that lucky bitch.
As if that weren't enough, some of the artists on the soundtrack are Frank Black, T-Rex, The Rolling Stones (with the classic track Under My Thumb), Dan The Automator, Kid Koala and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich. Also, tying into its Comic-Con theme, genuine music from The Legend of Zelda can be heard in a dream sequence.
Through Universal Studios, a teaser trailer was released as part of Scott Pilgrim's marketing campaign featuring music from The Prodigy, The Tings Tings, Be Your Own Pet, Cornelius, Blood Red Shoes and LCD Soundsystem, who I'm still depressed about.
The Spawn soundtrack is pretty damn ace. Comprised solely of collaborations, all its tracks are in the electronica, industrial or hard rock genre. It debuted at #7 on Billboard and sat on the charts for 25 weeks, selling over 500,000 copies domestically.
Some of the most bad-ass tracks on the CD include:
(Can't You) Trip Like I Do- Filter & The Crystal Method
One Man Army- The Prodigy & Tom Morello
Long Hard Road Out of Hell- Marilyn Manson & Sneaker Pimps
Tiny Rubberband- Butthole Surfers & Moby
Torn Apart- Stabbing Westward & Wink
Familiar- Incubus & DJ Greyboy
T-4 Strain- Henry Rollins & Goldie
Kick the P.A.- Korn & The Dust Brothers
Spawn- Silverchair & Vitro
Other artists featured that are worth mentioning include Kirk Hammett, Metallica, Silverchair, Slayer, Atari Teenage Riot and Soul Coughing. Seriously, I just gave you almost the whole CD. Pick this shit up.
The SPIDER-MAN Franchise
Since 1962, Spider-Man (and that's the correct spelling, not Spiderman or Spider-man) has been releasing sticky crap out of his hands. Again, a blazing reminder of every guy I've ever dated.
Anyway, the companion albums to the Spider-Man films are perhaps the most accurate portrayals of the superhero identity crisis in general, especially the teenage angst part- there's rock, pop, and a shit-ton of emo.
The best tracks are as follows:
Learn To Crawl- Black Lab
When It Started- The Strokes
Hate To Say I Told You So- The Hives
The artists featured on the CD aren't bad either. The basset hound from Nickelback recorded the song "Hero" for the soundtrack, along with Josey Scott from Saliva, Tyler Connolly from Theory of a Deadman, Matt Cameron from Soundgarden and Pearl Jam and Mike Kroeger from Nickelback. I personally can't stand this song, but it went 4x platinum in the US and hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 10o, as well as #1 on the Modern Rock charts, becoming a massive cross-promotional hit.
Other bands on the soundtrack include Alien Ant Farm, Sum 41, Macy Gray and Pete Yorn, with the Spider-Man main title getting its own reboot by Aerosmith.
Spider-Man 2, 2004:
In my opinion, this is album that most fits the Spider-Man themes of teen angst, redemption and loss, especially with the inclusion of Dashboard Confessional and the track by Jet. I have the entire album downloaded, but here are the songs you should really be listening to:
Vindicated- Dashboard Confessional
Hold On- Jet
Give It Up- Midtown
The artists chosen to contribute to the CD were a general VH1 hotlist of 2002. Here's a list of who else you can find in the track listing:
Taking Back Sunday
There's also an awesome track from Queen guitarist Brian May. Can't go wrong with that!
Spider-Man 3, 2007
This movie needed to redeem itself from its deplorable reception. Luckily, its soundtrack is just as exceptional as the first two. Hit up your iTunes for these:
Signal Fire- Snow Patrol
Move Away- The Killers
Pleased To Meet You- Wolfmother
Red River- The Walkmen
Falling Star- Jet
Spider-Man 3's companion CD also contains tracks by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Flaming Lips, The Oohlas, and Chubby Checker.
It's also worth mentioning that the Spider-Man Theme was re-recorded by the Ramones as a hidden track on their 1995 album !Adios Amigos!. Their version was also included in one of their live performances and in various other projects.
The SUPERMAN Franchise
I don't think it's necessary for me to go on about how obsessed I am with anything and everything Superman. But in case you don't know, and aren't nervous about finding out, go here.
Superman first appeared in DC Comics' Action Comics #1 in 1938 and ever since then has been floating around in comics, books, magazines, five movies, at least five television series, and um, my dreams. Wait! I mean no. Let's just move on and get to the music part.
The first film, Superman, was released in 1978, and has since become a classic. Hearing the the Superman theme that accompanies the opening credits is like Pavlov's bell to most little kids and um, myself.
All the films are scored, so they won't be covered here, unfortunately. However, I will tell you guys that I recently watched the movie on AMC three nights in a row even though I own it on Blu-Ray.
My advice to those of you who have not yet familiarized yourself with the Superman franchise is to move to America. After that, watch Superman, Superman II and Superman II:The Richard Donner Cut and skip everything else.
Superman Returns should never have been made and was a desperate attempt to cash in on all the comic books that are being exploited by Hollywood. This new Man of Steel that's being slowly unraveled by Zack Snyder right now makes me very uneasy and I hope that having Jonathan Nolan on board means that I won't cry through all of 2012. I plan on writing a post airing all my grievances on this later on, so be on the lookout for that. Or, check out now. Your call.
I never got into Smallville, even though I really, really wanted to, because it was boring and stupid, but I did look up the music used on the show for the sake of this post, and, like most of the shows on the CW, that turned out to be its only redeeming quality. The Smallville theme was "Save Me" by Remy Zero, which I actually have in my iTunes, and some of the artists heard in the episodes included Stabbing Westward, The Juliana Theory, Sia AND Zero 7, Unwritten Law, Interpol, The Cult, and Juliette and the Licks (SERIOUSLY??? OHMIGOD!!! Maybe I should have watched.)
I did not, however, appreciate seeing a season 7 episode listing that appeared to be a showcase for that dude from OneRepublic who's like a whore for tweenyboppers. Also, when I was scrolling through the music section of the website I was just waiting to see that awful "Superman" song by Five For Fighting, because wouldn't that just be predictable and cheesy, and yup, there it was.
Apparently the show released two soundtracks as well, both of which didn't impress me, save for the inclusion of Depeche Mode's "Precious" on Volume Two: Metropolis Mix.
So basically, watch the first two movies, and call it a day. And try not to picture me geeking out and fanning myself when the Superman theme comes on.
Most of the music used in Thor is a score composed by Patrick Doyle. However, I had to include this movie because in one scene, and the closing credits, Foo Fighters' "Walk," from their latest LP, Wasting Light, is used as the only non-instrumental piece deemed worthy enough to make it into the film. Dave Grohl's god-like awesomeness strikes again.
The Watchmen series was released in 1986, and is the only graphic novel before or since to make TIME's 100 All-TIME Greatest Novels list (in 2005). It was also featured at number 13 on Entertainment Weekly's list of 50 best novels in the last 25 years. Getting the feature film to finally hit theaters was a decades-long struggle that left fans salivating for a movie worthy of its caliber. Watchmen finally came out in 2009 from Warner Bros. Pictures.
While the movie wasn't a complete failure, fans of the book weren't exactly high on it as a whole. First of all, no matter how hot Billy Crudup is (and he is), no one wants to look at a big, blue schlong in our face for four hours- or, for that matter, for two minutes. Speaking of, what was up with that runtime? I've had relationships that were shorter than that. It's also a Zack Snyder movie all the way- he's not completely faithful to the novel, which again, makes me very, very apprehensive about Man of Steel.
However, the movie is memorable for the opening scene set to Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'", which shows what our society has and will become. It does trick you into thinking that you just spent nine bucks on the Watchmen film you always wanted to see, but it's a mesmerizing scene nonetheless.
The soundtrack is a music buff's college term paper, with the aforementioned Dylan track plus classics by Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Also included is the closing credits title, an energizing effort from, surprisingly, My Chemical Romance, who usually annoy the shit out of me. They are covering a song originally performed by Bob Dylan, though, so maybe that explains it. Leonard Cohen's oft-interpreted "Hallelujah" also appears, both on the soundtrack and in the film (I remember that it played during a particularly disturbing sex scene between Silk Spectre II and Nite Owl II, which almost ruined it for me). Here's a complete listing of the best tracks from the movie:
Desolation Row- My Chemical Romance
Hallelujah- Leonard Cohen
All Along the Watchtower- Jimi Hendrix
The Times They Are A-Changin'- Bob Dylan
Me And Bobby McGee- Janis Joplin
The film also features two songs that are mentioned in the novel- "Hallelujah" and Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence."
As always, feel free to weigh in with your opinions below. I realize with every post that I write about comics I lose more and more street cred, but keep in mind that I weigh like fourteen pounds and look like I'm 12 anyway, so really, this is not hurting anything and you're all bound to find out anyway.