Eight Great… Scores

BY JASON DAVIS

What’s an action sequence without a score? Every hero needs a theme song and today we look at the genre’s best scores to date!

Rocketeer (1991)
Okay, so it’s a slow starter but it is a Disney film after all so even the score has to be fun for the whole family. Composed by James Horner, his theme captures the pure Americana of the 30s and 40s. Although it doesn’t quite soar as high as the titular character the theme does posses an innocence that is genuine and on par with
its pilot.

 

Captain America (2011)
Joe Johnston’s return to the genre was easily the best score of the last year with Alan Silvestri’s sweeping anthem. Captain America shined brightly in terms of acting, direction, set pieces and score and became a critical and financial success. This piece injected just the right amount of patriotism into the film and will hold up for many years to come.

 

 

Hulk (2003)
After Batman, Elfman became the go to guy for superhero scores… except for when it came to the Hulk. Ang Lee originally hired his long time collaborator Mychael Danna. After poor test screenings baffled film execs went for the tried and true talents of Danny Elfman. His take on music for the jolly green giant does not disappoint at all. It works perfectly with Ang Lee’s angst ridden Bruce Banner and distinguishes itself from the rest of Marvel and DC’s heroes.

 

 

X-Men 2 (2003)
Following composer Michael Kamen is no easy task, but John Ottman (Singer’s original pick to score the first mutant franchise) flexes his own mutant abilities on this follow up. Ottman adds a level of fantasy and mutant awe that was missing from Kamen’s original score that isn’t flashy but is far from understated.

 

 

Batman Begins (2005)
What does it take to start the Batman franchise up again? Two knights of the composing world! Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard joined forces to create one of the most unique superhero scores to date. The theme is filled with sound effects and electronic percussive elements that make Nolan’s Batman much grittier and darker.

 

 

Spider-Man (2002)
When Spidey swung into theaters he was carried by a friendly neighbor, Danny Elfman. Many felt that Elfman’s epic score for Batman made him the obvious choice for Spider-man but it’s safe to say his working relationship with Sam Raimi is what really sealed the deal (the two worked together on Darkman, Army of Darkness and A Simple Plan). When the title theme starts with it’s jagged chord progressions you’re immediately caught in a web.

 

 

Batman (1989)
Easily one of the most perfect superhero themes ever composed that will forever be associated with Bruce Wayne’s alter ego. Elfman fresh off his collaboration with Tim Burton in Beetlejuice was eager to prove himself as a film composer to Hollywood. The hyper real percussive strings of its title theme still gives every fanboy goosebumps today.

 

 

Superman (1978)
The grandaddy (or godfather) of superhero themes. John Williams having already scored cinematic classics such as Star Wars, Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind cemented his status as the go to composer for epic, timeless themes. For Superman Williams builds his theme around an enduring march that propels itself to unimaginable heights truly leading viewers to believe that a man could fly.

 

 

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