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Author Topic: Superhero Themes  (Read 353 times)

Offline Tomato

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Superhero Themes
« on: March 04, 2021, 04:54:54 AM »
Recently I've started following a channel that does a lot of in depth looks into music theory, and specifically talks about leitmotifs and theme music for specific characters. He's done videos specifically on a bunch of superhero film scores, and I've been thinking about it lately. Like, I think most of us kind of associate Superman with the John Williams theme, or Batman with either the Danny Elfman theme or the BTAS opening theme. Or, to give more modern examples, you can hear the main chords of Daniel Pemberton's Miles theme (this one) or Ludwig Göransson's Black Panther theme and it will instantly bring those characters to mind.

It's got me thinking about other characters as well. Spider-Man specifically is a tough one for me to pin down any specific sound like that... like, the 90s series is probably the most formative for me (having grown up with it) but that theme is... a product of its time. The 60s series theme is definitely more catchy, but it's also very cheesy. And Spectacular, while I love it and the series as a whole... it can be obnoxious and really doesn't fit that niche of "Spider-Man" the way the above themes do (though personally I think that's kind of fitting, but I digress).

Going back through, I think the films might be closer. Like, credit where it's due, while I rag on the Raimi films, the themes in those films made me think "this is the theme to a Spider-man film" in a way that the Amazing films... just failed at. Like, listening to them all again, it's clear the Amazing films wanted to go for a more marching band style "Superhero!" theme, and that's not really appropriate for Spider-Man. I have similar feelings to the Far From Home theme... it's fine, it works for the tone of that film... but honestly, I wish they'd kept the core theme from Homecoming. Like, yeah, it's a modernization on the 60s theme, but it worked. Like, more than any other theme, that theme music makes me think "Spider-Man."

Anyway, I digress. What are some of y'alls favorite character or team themes? There's obviously a TON of classics I didn't bring up (Black Sabbath's I am Iron Man, X-men TAS theme, etc) but what are some of the themes you think of when you think of different characters.

((As an aside, going through all the different themes, I discovered there had been FOUR versions of the 90s Spider-man cartoon theme by the end of season 1. There's a Beta version that never saw air, then 3 versions that aired with different clips until they finally settled on the version that ran for the rest of the series))

Offline Shogunn2517

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Re: Superhero Themes
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2021, 05:51:06 AM »
I was actually thinking about this recently.

Of course with it being me, I'd stretch beyond the "superhero" themes and obviously say the Imperial March and Indiana Jones themes done by Williams.

But on superheroes, the one that stick out the most to me is Alan Silvestri's Avengers theme. But speaking of Silvestri, he's also done some other notable themes that stick out in my mind including the Predator and Forrest Gump themes.

Offline Nyte Dragon

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« Last Edit: March 04, 2021, 06:29:35 AM by Night Dragon »
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Offline Tomato

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Re: Superhero Themes
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2021, 01:01:42 PM »
One I missed, that I think is also worth mentioning... John Paesano's Daredevil's intro theme. It's an appropriately tense piece of music to pair with such a gritty character, but the bits of piano add this quality to it... it almost feels like we're hearing raindrops fall.

Offline BentonGrey

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Re: Superhero Themes
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2021, 03:27:35 AM »
Yeah, that is a good one.

Not much time, but a quick thought, the Spectacular Spider-Man theme is way more memorable and fun than it should be.
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Offline Tomato

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Re: Superhero Themes
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2021, 04:30:07 AM »
Oh, I love the Spectacular theme, it's probably my go-to for animated Spider-Man. It's catchy almost to the point of being obnoxious, but I feel like that feels... right for a show about the wisecracking wall crawler.

Trying to think of some other good ones... ND already brought up a bunch of solid choices.

Captain America

Hulk- I actually do like the core leitmotif for the MCU Incredible Hulk film and the Lonely Man (theme from the live action show) is also pretty iconic music for Banner... but I grew up with the cartoon, and it's a much better theme for Hulk.

Fantastic Four

Batman Beyond

Flash- I like the 90s Flash series as well, but I feel like the theme (and the show, at least early on) was trying a bit too hard to be Burton Batman-y. I think the current Flash theme works a bit better at capturing the more heroic and hopeful Barry Allen.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2021, 04:35:49 AM by Tomato »

Offline Nyte Dragon

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Re: Superhero Themes
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2021, 04:57:28 AM »
Flash- I like the 90s Flash series as well, but I feel like the theme (and the show, at least early on) was trying a bit too hard to be Burton Batman-y. I think the current Flash theme works a bit better at capturing the more heroic and hopeful Barry Allen.

 Well, they were both done by Danny Elfman. I really like the current shows theme, but this was the theme that sticks with me. And I can't believe I forgot 'The Lonely Man', that is such a great theme. But I think you nailed it, that's not Hulk's theme, it's Bruce Banner's.

 And just a recommendation, I posted one of his covers (Avengers), check out 331Rock on YouTube. He does covers of themes meets metal.   
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Offline BentonGrey

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Re: Superhero Themes
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2021, 02:15:40 PM »
Yeah, Cap's movie theme is quite good, but the best Cap theme is definitely this one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeSpLnZF9sk
 :D

Yeah, the 90s Flash theme is great, but the whole show is definitely trying way too hard to be Batman.  I still have a lot of affection for it, though.
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Offline Tomato

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Re: Superhero Themes
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2021, 02:39:14 PM »
As an aside, I mentioned him a bit when I started, but since ND plugged 331Rock, figure I should link to a few of the Sideways videos that started me down this road.

How a Superhero Theme works - covers a lot, but specifically Superman and Batman's theme music. The breakdown of Elfman's Batman theme is actually pretty fascinating.

The Sound of Spider Verse-breaks down the what's up danger moment and the 3 musical motifs that blend to make that scene so powerful.

How to listen to music incorrectly and (blah blah blah)- talks about how musical meaning can change depending on what you've been exposed to, specifically talking about the Endgame assemble music and the Ant-man theme (which probably should get a mention because it absolutely does what it's meant to, but I'm also not sure it's on the level of some of the others)