National Comic Book Day is Sept. 25, and music fans might not realize that the comic book world has also had a huge impact on music. Comic book movies are now a whole genre of their own, and for every comic book movie, there's an accompanying soundtrack. Songs from some of music's biggest artists have been written for, or used on, albums for superheroes. In honor of the holiday, here are the 11 best songs to emerge from comic book movie albums. Click the titles to listen to each song.
Maroon 5 fans might have forgotten about "Woman," which was included on the "Spider-Man 2" soundtrack. The sultry single was completely different from anything the band had yet released, and anything that audiences would expect on a comic book movie album, which was what made it so memorable. It was a perfect ode to Spider-Man's one true love, Mary Jane Watson.
"Wonder Woman" practically demanded a female empowerment anthem, and Sia delivered with this song that achieved more than 13 million views on YouTube. While it was clearly a product of trying to create a hit soundtrack song (it took two writers and three producers, none of whom were Sia or her collaborator Labrinth), there was no denying that it was both catchy and showcasing plenty of girl power.
The soundtrack for "Suicide Squad" was almost as talked about as the film itself. "Heathens" stood out because it stood on its own; it wasn't a song that had already been released elsewhere, or a collaboration to further pump up the album. It was just a really good song by an undervalued band, and it had all the bite needed for a movie about villains. It's no surprise that it had one billion views on YouTube and was certified six times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Remember when "Spawn" became a movie in 1997? You might not, but chances are audiences definitely remember the lead single, which was a rap-rock collaboration between Marilyn Manson and Sneaker Pimps. Back then, such collaborations were a lot less common than they are on today's soundtracks, so this was a new sound that really pushed the envelope of comic book music.
Soundgarden made a triumphant return when they recorded "Live To Rise" for "The Avengers." It was the first song that the band had fully recorded and released in 15 years, and it showed because they were better than ever. While "The Avengers" became a smash hit at the box office, "Live To Rise" went to number one on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Chart. Pairing a superhero team-up movie everyone had been waiting for, with the reunion of a band that everyone had been waiting for, was genius.
Hiding on the album for "Iron Man 3" was this song by Imagine Dragons. It may have flown under the radar because it was not nearly as attention-grabbing as the typical Imagine Dragons single, but it wasn't supposed to be. "Ready Aim Fire" was a much more bittersweet song that matched up exactly with the themes of the movie, and drove home musically how Tony Stark almost lost everything.
The second entry on this playlist from "Spider-Man 2," Train's 'Ordinary" provided a rocking good time to anyone that heard it. But it also had what separates great comic book movie songs from the average ones: a good message. The song spoke about how certain people are anything but ordinary, and can do extraordinary things to help the world. It was both a fun listen, and kind of uplifting, while Pat Monahan's vocals were spot on.
When the "Spider-Man" series was rebooted as "The Amazing Spider-Man," the best thing to come out of the overhaul was the single that Alicia Keys and Kendrick Lamar produced for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." It racked up 33 million views on YouTube and charted on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart. "It's On Again" proved that comic book movie music could also appeal to mainstream listeners.
If that wasn't enough Kendrick Lamar for you, he returned to comic book movies several years later as the primary artist on the "Black Panther" soundtrack. Lamar teamed up with fellow hip-hop artist SZA for this lead single from the album, which was certified double Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. It also spoke perfectly to the Black Panther character.
Ben Affleck's "Daredevil" wasn't a box office hit, but the lead single from its soundtrack album was a winner. Fuel put together this growling anthem about a hero who would literally bring hell to his enemies (in keeping with the "devil" part), which was made more impressive by the fact that they had to finish the song in less than a week in order to make it onto the album.
The theme song from "Spider-Man" tops this playlist because it's everything that a superhero anthem should be. The collaboration between Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott is big, it's loud and it's the kind of song that makes the listener want to become a superhero themselves. 16 years after it was first released, the song hasn't aged at all. There's nothing more that audiences can ask for. Play the video at the top of this article to see the original music video, and enjoy the absolute best of comic book movie music.
For more on any of the artists featured on this playlist, click their names above to visit their artist pages at AXS.