Great comic book films seem to have it all when it comes to big spectacular blockbusters. The action. The special effects. The story. And of course, the soundtracks.
Even though music and comic books are two very different mediums, films unite the two. Songs can define the films, the heroes, and even the year. There’s a lot of good comic book soundtracks, but some of them stand above the rest in terms of performance, eclecticism, and memorability. It was hard picking the top ten, but all have three things in common. One, these are song soundtracks, not the orchestra/composition ones. Two, the films must be directly adapted from a comic book film (which means sadly, no The Transformers: The Movies). Lastly, the songs have to be included in the soundtrack, not simply played in the movie.
#10: Batman and Robin
Yes, it’s #10 on the list. And yes, the film certainly isn’t considered The Dark Knight by most people. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that this is a bad soundtrack. If anything, this soundtrack proves that there is something redeemable from Batman & Robin. And who could forget Smashing Pumpkin’s “The End is the Beginning is the End”/”The Beginning is the End is the Beginning” (a.k.a. The Watchmen trailer song)?
#9: Weird Science
Not only did John Hughes make some of the best films of the 80s, he also compiled some of the best soundtracks of the 80s. While this isn’t the best soundtrack out of all the John Hughes films, this is still pretty damn good. There’s a lot of lesser known bands such as The Lords of the New Church or Killing Joke. Plus, who can forget the title song by Oingo Boingo?
This isn’t Prince’s best album or soundtrack (both being Purple Rain), but this is still a good effort. Some of the songs might not be as memorable, but there’s certainly enough catchy tunes like “Partyman” or “Trust” to make up for it. And who can forget the soundbite of “And where is and where is DUH-DUH-DUH! Is the Batman!?”
#7: I’m Breathless: Music From and Inspired by the Film Dick Tracy
Yes, I know. You’re upset that Madonna performed at the Super Bowl. However, just because you might have a beef with her performance now, doesn’t mean you should dismiss her music from Dick Tracy. It’s an interesting blend of 30s/40s jazz, show tunes, and late 80s/early 90s pop. And who can forget to strike a pose when “Vogue” is on the soundtrack?
This is for all of you who are craving a little more rap and a little less rock. Even those of you who usually don’t care about hip-hop might like some of these songs. There’s plenty of songs that keep it real from artists such as Mystikal or Wolfpak. And for you techno fans out there, there’s an excellent remix of New Order’s “Confusion” (a.k.a. the song from the blood soaked club) and Junkie XL’s “Dealing With the Rooster.”
#5: Dick Tracy
That’s right. There’s not one soundtrack, not two, but three soundtracks for Dick Tracy and all well produced. This one has a diverse list of artists from Erasure and Al Jarreau. Here’s the catch. Most of them do the songs in the style of the 1930’s, giving it an old time feel with a modern edge. Some songs such as “Dick Tracy” by Ice-T aren’t 30’s styled but 90’s instead. Giving the album a nice rounded feel.
#4: Batman Forever
If there’s one thing to be said about Joel Schumacher, it’s that he can compile one hell of a soundtrack. Whether it be The Lost Boys, Batman and Robin, or Batman Forever. Out of all the Batman soundtracks, this is hands down the best. It has a great selection of songs. U2 hits it off the bat with “Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me,” “One Time Too Many” by PJ Harvey is one of my favorite songs of all time, and who can forget “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal? There’s something here for everyone and this is a must for your iPod.
#3: Tank Girl
You honestly didn’t think I’d forget this gem, did you? Not only is this one of the best comic book soundtracks, this is one of the best 90s albums. Most of the songs here are punk/grunge/alternative, but somehow they remain accessible for people who don’t usually listen to The Magnificent Bastards or L7. While at the same time, these songs are loved by my punk friends and the tracks certainly don’t try to be too poppy. This album takes a lot of risks with its artist selection, but it all pays off in spades.
#2: The Crow
It’s not hard to see why this soundtrack is #2 on the list. Maybe you poke fun at the goths for being too moody, or regard bands such as Helmet as being nothing more than noise. But even if you are one of those people who are cynical towards alternative music, I doubt you’d dislike this bunch of songs. Simply because at the end of the day, this soundtrack is well written, eclectic, and doesn’t shy away from using lesser known bands such as For Love Not Lisa. Plus, how can you listen to Jane Siberry’s “It Can’t Rain All the Time” without feeling a shiver going down your spine?
#1: Heavy Metal
This list was extremely difficult to decide. There were so many good soundtracks and objectively putting them in the order of “best of” was nearly impossible. And when it came down to the top 3, that was completely impossible. Tank Girl or The Crow could’ve easily been #1. So consider all three of these soundtracks tied. If Tank Girl was a punk soundtrack that could appeal to everyone and The Crow was a goth soundtrack that could appeal to everyone, then consider Heavy Metal a heavy metal soundtrack that can appeal to everyone. Don’t let the title fool you. There’s plenty of artists outside of the hard rock genre in this soundtrack. Songs such as “Blue Lamp” (perhaps my favorite Stevie Nicks song) and “Working in a Coal Mine” remade by Devo promise to pull in those of you who might be skeptical of buying a hard rock soundtrack. Perhaps the real reason this is #1 is that all of the songs were used in the film, and most importantly, used wisely. Every time I hear these songs, I inevitably have the accompanied scene in my head. Which is what a soundtrack should be.