Comics have had a huge influence on popular music. Some of the best superhero themed songs have been recorded as part of a project in coordination with official product, such as movie or TV series themes. However, other songs were recorded independently of any involvement with DC or Marvel productions.
Songs based on comic book characters have spanned many genres, ranging from bubblegum pop to the more extreme subgenres of metal. They also ran the gamut from simply celebrating heroes to helping audiences connect more deeply with their favorite characters. Note that MF DOOM is a notable part of this subgenre, it also sings songs about its own characters, and it could easily fill any essay completely by itself.
ten Prince’s ‘Batdance’ is as memorable as Tim Burton’s Batman movie
Prince was the perfect choice to contribute to Tim Burton Batman soundtrack because his personality and stage persona perfectly matched the yin and yang that Batman and the Joker represent. “Batdance” is a wild encounter of hard rock guitar, dance beats and audio samples from the film.
As irrepressible as Prince himself, the song brings together the dueling personalities of Batman and the Joker in an assortment of musical styles that Prince ruled throughout the 1980s. The catchy “Batdance” will live on as long as the memory of the legendary artist.
“Gigantor” was the theme for the anime based on the character from Gigantor Manga. Helmet offered his take on the theme from a mid-’90s Saturday morning cartoon compilation. The song is the perfect homage to a larger-than-life character, with heartbreaking chords and a destabilized vocal that sounds mechanical.
Where the original theme song has generational conflict through its space-age effects and tribal mock vocals, Helmet goes for straight heavy metal that matches the literal makeup of the titular character. This modernized approach to the theme is definitely welcome.
8 Ghostface Killah’s ‘Slept On Tony’ Is Way Cooler Than Any Iron Man Movie
Ghostface Killah has always been a fan of comic books. His first solo album is called Iron Man. “Slept on Tony” is a song that struts around with the arrogance of its subject matter. His outraged tale depicts the trials, tribulations and successes of the classic comic book character.
There are many hip-hop songs featuring comic book characters, and this one stands out the most. “Slept on Tony” mirrors the bellicose hero image of Marvel Comics against the rebellious attitude of hardcore hip hop. It comes together in an almost perfect marriage.
seven The Kinks’ “Johnny Thunder” Draws Attention to a DC Comics B-Lister
The Kinks were inspired by two things for the song “Johnny Thunder”: the DC Comics character and Marlon Brando’s vehicle, The wild. The Johnny Thunder character originally appeared in Flash comics #1 by John B. Wentworth and Stan Aschmeier but was reintroduced into the Justice Society of America series.
The lyrics of the song can easily be interpreted to reflect these two sources of inspiration. As for Johnny Thunder, the song reflects the loneliness of his early days as a boy kidnapped and taken away from his family with only a genie named Yz to comfort and protect him.
6 Wings’ “Magneto and Titanium Man” Involves the Characters in Rock & Roll Mischief
“Magneto and Titanium Man” is one of the greatest examples of ultimate rock & roll conceit fully realized. By placing Magneto, Titanium Man, and the Crimson Dynamo in the context of rock & roll hooliganism, Wings defines rock scene imagery as drugged and drunk comic book antagonists.
Paul McCartney has always been a comic book fan and put his love of the medium to good use in this song. Stan Lee knew the song well and absolutely adored it. It easily takes its place among the greatest non-Beatles songs McCartney has ever participated in.
5 The Traits’ ‘Nobody Likes the Hulk’ Captures the Character’s Sadness
“Nobody Loves the Hulk” by little-known garage band The Traits is a superb song that encapsulates the feelings of loneliness and sadness embodied by the Jade Giant. As The Incredible Hulk 1960s stories framed the character as a monstrous brute, the song brings out that all-encompassing isolation.
The Traits are almost unknown outside of this song, but it’s a song that wears its subject like a glove. It works because of its relevance to the group’s situation. The young men who played in garage bands in the ’60s usually didn’t come from the cosiest of backgrounds. It’s easy to see how the Hulk became their cultural avatar.
4 Anthrax’s “I Am the Law” Is a Celebration of Comics’ Ultimate No-Frills Anti-Hero
“I Am the Law” is a thrash metal celebration of Judge Dredd, the toughest dude in British comics. Dredd is the perfect character to inspire a thrash metal song. “I Am the Law” represents the genre at its best. It is also the most festive normally depressing musical style.
In this song, Dredd becomes an avatar of the catharsis that the metal community always craves. Anthrax created an anthem for the ages with this song and brought attention to a character who has long been an icon across the pond. Every good comic book character needs a theme song, and “I Am the Law” is definitely Dredd’s.
3 Open Mike Eagle’s “Legendary Iron Hood” Humanizes The Juggernaut
“Legendary Iron Hood” is a dutiful song about a Marvel Comics character who rarely receives positive attention. Despite Fabian Nicieza’s recent attempt to expand the character, Juggernaut is generally portrayed as a dumb brute. He’s a classic X-Men villain who relies on his supernatural strength to battle his cousin, Xavier, who uses his mind as his only weapon.
Open Mike Eagle destroys that perception with this song. It paints an image of the Juggernaut as a sympathetic soul trapped in a spiral of emotional manipulation, rage, and confusion. After a while, listeners are forced to admit that Cain Marko is one of Marvel Comics’ most underrated characters, let alone villains.
2 Ramones’ “Spider-Man” is the perfect update to the ultimate theme
Spider-Man has always had a punk rock vibe. Spidey displays a nervous energy and a humor that disrupts serious situations, and he embodies the heroic underdog. The Ramones finally gave the ’60s animated series “Spider-Man” theme the punk rock flair it lacked in 1995.
There’s no band that’s more punk than the Ramones, and there’s no character that fits Ramones’ musical style better. The song captures the rough edges of Spider-Man that the ’60s version and most TV and movie incarnations were truly not allowed due to their target audience demographics.
1 There’s Nothing Better Than XTC’s “That’s Really Great, Supergirl”
“That’s really great, Supergirl” is the perfect use of a comic book character in the context of popular music. In this song, Supergirl is used as a way to uplift the feelings of a man who has come to terms with the fact that a relationship isn’t going to last.
Their musical genre may not be everyone’s favorite, but XTC’s lyrics in “That’s Really Great, Supergirl” are timeless. Supergirl becomes both a literal figure in the song and a metaphor. She is both the figure of the character’s obsession and the inaccessible fruit of his imagination. She is the ever-present force that drives the song and helps make it both quirky and sad.
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