It’s Comic-Con! Hurray!
In honor of this geek-stravaganza, today’s Film Score Friday is taking a break from the standard review and instead going through the top ten comic book scores of all time. So without further adieu, I present to you the top ten comic book scores of all time:
10. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Scott Pilgrim is a melting pot of geekdom. Mixing together video games, movies, TV, comics, music and many more into a singular generational experience. The movie has so much going on in it that the references and structure starts to bleed in on itself, making a seamless cinematic experience. A huge part of that is the music, which flows between songs and score better than almost any film before. The score bit in particular is what makes this list, making use of some great digital sounds that fit the movie like a glove.
9. The Phantom
Yep, The Phantom. I bet many of you forgot this film even existed, let alone remember it’s score. Despite that I know for a fact most of you have heard the main theme from this forgettable 90’s actioner. It has been used in countless trailers, commercials and other media for the past decade, making The Phantom theme one of the most heard themes out there. The music gets a ton of play for good reason, the main theme is a rousing, and exciting track that works perfectly for any heroic character.
8. Sin City
The dark and gritty world of Frank Miller’s Sin City came to life in Robert Rodriguez’s feature adaptation. Beyond the note perfect visual style, the music written for the film captured the essence of the world perfectly. With it’s big, dirty saxophone and pounding percussions, Sin City’s main theme transports you instantly to the streets of Basin City. It also captures a perfect modern sound for a noir, making the film itself simultaneously fresh and nostalgic.
7. The Dark Knight
The first Batman score on the list, and certainly not the last. The Dark Knight made the boldest of choices for a marquee comic book movie, it used it’s music sparingly and subtly. That mature choice is exactly why the score, and even film, is so good. The movie is very adult and the music follows suit, offering noble and tragic themes that don’t blare. The complexity of the characters informs the complexity of the music, and the manic nature of the Joker is captured perfectly in the score as well.
6. Road to Perdition
Few people recall that this movie was based off of a graphic novel, but it was, and it’s stellar music makes the list. Easily the most beautiful and somber music to be tied to a comic book movie, Road to Perdition’s score captures the great depression era with elegance. Particularly the Road to Chicago track, which transports you to a sadder, more noble time. This soundtrack
5. Batman Returns
Another Bat-title to make the list, Batman Returns was Danny Elfman’s return to the Batman universe after he made his big splash with the original. His themes for the original are downright classic, but it is his work on the sequel far surpassed the first film in almost every way. The gothic meets Christmas sounds elevated the already epic Batman sound to all new heights. The Batman theme was well established, but the new tracks devoted to Catwoman, Penguin and even Max Shreck brought a whole new level of beauty to an already gorgeous cinematic soundscape.
4. X-Men 3: The Last Stand
Say what you want about the film itself, I for one loved it, but it is undeniable X3 had the best score. The X-Films have not had the most consistent sound from feature to feature, not having a single composer returning from film to film. This creates a problem when trying to build character arches from film to film. By the time X3 came out the film franchise was at a fever pitch, and thus the movie attempted a more epic feel. This is tricky, and for the most part results were mixed, but were the score was concerned it was a rousing success. The music just plain rocks, and probably deserves a better film.
Lots of people give this score crap for not having any themes. This of course is complete bull, there are multiple themes in the score, and all of them are awesome. The reason I adore this score so much is how well it plays stand alone. The main title of course gets featured play in the film, but the rest of the score is almost equally as brilliant, and this wasn’t obvious to me until I listed to the score separately from the movie. The music is perfect for the character and showed some diversity from the typical super hero score type.
The classic of classics, the godfather of the super hero films, Superman still holds up as one of the greatest super hero scores of all time. All the themes work, the music stirs the biggest emotions and to this day the opening main theme is instantly recognizable. The music is one of the most lasting elements of the original comic blockbuster, and even thirty plus years later the themes work. There is not much else to say, with out this movie and score, we might be doing a top ten western scores of all time.
1. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Wait, another Batman score? It is true, a third Batman soundtrack comes in at number one, and it wasn’t even hard. A perfect score that fits exactly with the main character. A mix of gothic choral and noble action, the score for Mask of the Phantasm is the musical representation of Batman himself, encompassing all of the darker and brighter elements of the movie. There are few times that a character can be associated with so many great themes, but for Batman it seems quite common.