One of the most overlooked aspects of superhero films is that, like many movies, they often feature original songs, and these can often be great, not only as songs themselves, but as representations of the characters and story of the film. With that in mind, here’s a list of 25 such songs!
Before we begin, there is a question to be asked as far as what counts as an original song. One of the most famous examples of a song from a superhero movie is Evanescence’s "Bring Me To Life," which received a huge boost by being featured in the trailer for Daredevil, as well as in the film itself, going on to become a super-hit. Indeed, all the songs on Daredevil: The Album were previously unreleased. However, "Bring Me to Life," as well as the other Evanescence song from the film, "My Immortal," were released less than a month later on their album Fallen, while the music videos and single-covers for the songs bear nothing from the film. This makes it clear that the songs were very much not written directly for the film, nor did they have the intention to be intrinsically associated with it. A similar thing can be said for the greatly famous “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal, which gained prominence for its use in Batman Forever.
Also, the 2017 cut of Justice League features two covers made specifically for the film, but not original songs: "Everybody Knows" by Sigrid, covered from Leonard Cohen, and "Come Together" by Garry Clark Jr., covered, of course, from The Beatles.
Represented here are songs that were either written or at least released with the intention of being associated with the film.
With all that in mind, and without further ado, here we go!
1. The Future by Prince from Batman (1989)
Right smack dab in the middle of the opening credits of the legendary 1989 film is the credit “Original Songs by Prince.” It seems like such an odd and idiosyncratic inclusion, and of course was done purely because of corporate synergy, and yet it turned out to work perfectly in this odd, idiosyncratic film.
That said, the first song of Prince’s to play in the film only plays for about five seconds. As we pan across a plaza in Gotham City mere moments after the credits conclude, this song can be heard playing diegetically over someone’s stereo. The song itself is nothing special, but you wouldn't even know that from its brie time in the film.
2. Electric Chair by Prince from Batman (1989)
This song only plays softly in the background at Bruce Wayne’s casino night party. That said, if you get a chance to listen to it on it's own, do so, as it is an incredible upbeat number from the great artist!
3. Partyman by Prince from Batman (1989)
What human being on this Earth doesn’t love the thought of the Joker standing in the doorway of the Gotham Art Museum and shouting “Gentlemen! Let’s broaden our minds! Lawrence?”
Okay, so there’s probably lot of people. Nevertheless, this crazy scene in the 1989 film, in which it pauses for a brief musical number, not only gives us a chance to relish in the Joker’s somehow fun insanity, but it also proved to be an addictive piece that gets in your head and refuses to leave!
4. Trust by Prince from Batman (1989)
The third song of Prince to appear in the film is a more fun, rollicking number like it’s immediate predecessor. As the denizens of Gotham throw caution (and common sense) to the whim and throw themselves at the Joker in order to be recipients of his free money, this terifically jazzy and memorable tune drives itself into everyone’s mind, before being interrupted by the heroic music of our hero as Batman swoops in to save the day.
In the time it takes for The Joker to tempt Gotham, Prince tempted all of us to buy the soundtrack album.
5. Scandalous by Prince from Batman (1989)
The fourth and final of Prince’s songs from the film plays over the latter half of the end credits, after most people have left the theater or shut off the DVD. It’s not a loud rock piece like its predecessors, but instead a ballad that utilizes Danny Elfman’s soft romantic themes to take us on one last musical journey.
Of course, this is Prince we’re talking about, so what starts off as a sappy ballad ends up as a downright dirty Fifty-Shades-of-Grey singalong. Nevertheless, it’s still Prince, and therefore, terrific!
6. Face to Face by Siouxie and the Banshees from Batman Returns (1992)
This song plays at the masquerade near the end of the film, as Selena Kyle enters the room. It is meant to be creepy and moody within the context of the film, and it certainly accomplishes that. It seems far too much so to be a chart topper, and works mostly as a piece of in-film scoring. However, it’s still a very well-composed piece, and if you’re feeling in a particular Tim-Burton-y mood in the car on the way to work, it might still be a good listen.
7. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me by U2 from Batman Forever (1995)
This song is so U2 it hurts. If you’re a fan of 1990s alt-rock, go for it! This is the song the film actually ends on, but was totally eclipsed by its sister song from the movie, Kiss from a Rose by Seal, which doesn't even play until well into the credits and, as said, wasn't created for the film.
8. The End is the Beginning is the End by Smashing Pumpkins from Batman & Robin (1997)
It may be a terrible movie, but it has a great rock song over the end credits. Like many songs on this list, the song is ridiculously off from the tone of the film it’s from, presenting a dark, gothic beat that does not fit with the Adam-West-remake that the audience just watched.
Perhaps the best thing about this song is that, twelve years later, a special remix of the song, dubbed “The Beginning is the End is the Beginning” was done for the first trailer for Watchmen. It was as if to say “We’re reclaiming this song from the worst superhero ever made, to make, possibly, the best!” It worked all the better because the trailer actually looked great, and, months later, the film was actually darn good!
9. Gotham City by R. Kelly from Batman & Robin (1997)
Look, all the Elephant-in-the-room stuff about R. Kelly aside, it isn’t that this isn’t a catchy number. But given that the darkness of Gotham City, and everything wrong with it, is commonplace knowledge to every man woman and child in the world today, no one can listen to this ode to the “city of justice, city of love, city of peace” without going “...Huh?”
10. Hero by Chad Kroeger feat. Josie Silver from Spider-Man (2002)
Now we’re getting into more of the heroic-type songs that typify superhero films, and what better than a song where the singers literally belt out “HERO!” at the top of their lungs.
In modern times, Nickelback has been the butt of a thousand jokes, but here, Chad Kroeger, along with Saliva frontman Josey Silver, deliver a rather uplifting number that helps introduces one of the most popular and iconic characters of all time to the silver screen.
11. Man Without Fear by Rob Zombie from Daredevil (2003)
This song, which plays over the action beat in the film that ends with Elektra’s father’s death, is the song on this list that is most obviously made for the film, with the character’s moniker as the title, and the name “DAREDEVIL!” repeatedly shouted.
It’s classic Rob Zombie, and adds a level of intensity to the scene it’s involved in. Whether you’re a heavy metal fan or not, it certainly adds to the film.
12. Won’t Back Down by Fuel, from Daredevil (2003)
Say what you will about this movie. It failed the character in a myriad of ways. But it’s the opinion of at least one writer that the coda of the film is quite a good little scene, appropriately juxtaposing the hero’s acrobatics and voice-over monolog with this grungy piece, effectively bringing very cool closing to a sub-par adaptation.
13. For You by The Calling from Daredevil (2003)
Wow, this movie really had three original songs written for it? Playing over the end credits, this also, if not so obviously, directly references the film, saying things like “I am justice” and “although I was blinded…” This is actually a rather beautiful power ballad that seems bittersweet after the tragic events of the film. That tragedy could refer to Elektra’s death or just the quality of the movie, but either way, the song is good.
14. Set Me Free by Velvet Revolver, from Hulk (2003)
This piece from Slash’s Guns ‘n Roses follow-up band is a toe-tapping, air-guitaring rock-a-long that completely gets to the heart and soul of the bottled-up rage of Bruce Banner that’s just aching to be set free.
Well done, Slash.
15. Vindicated by Dashboard Confessional from Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Sure the incomprehensible lyrics reach almost Fall-Out-Boy-levels of douchey pretentiousness, but it’s hard to deny this song added the perfect amount of triumphant joy as the credits rolled on Peter Parker’s happy ending.
16. Ordinary by Train from Spider-Man 2 2004)
Playing over the credits after Vindicated, this is a more super-charged and frenetic song that perfectly embodies Peter Parker’s ever-constant struggle with its poignant lyrics. “And when the world is on its knees with me it’s spine....and when I come to the rescue, I get nothing but left behind...Everybody seems to be getting what they need, where’s mine?”
Can you imagine anything more Spider-Man? Also, it just plain rocks.
17 . Come In, Come On by Velvet Revolver, from Fantastic Four (2005)
Sadly, Velvet Revolver's second Marvel song doesn't hold a candle to the first.
This one just sucks. An uninspired, generic, at times incoherent and even almost plagiaristic mess of a song that doesn’t serve much purpose for the film.
18. Whatever Happened to the Heroes from Fantastic Four (2005)
This one is...okay. That’s all I can say.
19 . Everything Burns by Ben Moody, feat. Anastacia, from Fantastic Four (2005)
Another movie with no less than three original songs composed for it! This is a song that doesn’t have much to do with the actual film, and is about as far away from the actual tone of the film as you can possibly get, it’s still a good rock song if you’re a fan of millennial Evanescence-type tunes.
20. Signal Fire by Snow Patrol from Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Another song that simply plays over the later credits, as such this is often not recognized as coming from the movie. The song offers Snow Patrol’s usual feel-good crooning, even if it doesn’t connote much or have anything to do with the film we just watched.
21. Make Way for Tomorrow Today from Iron Man 2 (2010)
This jingle was used for the Stark Expo in the film. It calls to mind the wonderful old-fashioned promotional tunes from yesteryear, such as those from the Walt Disney era.
With good reason. It was written by Richard M. Sherman, one half of the legendary Sherman brothers of the Walt Disney company in the 1960s, whose career includes It’s a Small World After All, A Pirate’s Life for Me, all the songs from Mary Poppins, and much more.
Dick came back to add one more credit to his resume. The song serves decently as a jingle for the film, but made it’s true impact nine years later, when the melody was re-used by composer Alan Silvestri to score the emotional meeting between Tony Stark and his father in Avengers: Endgame.
22. Live to Rise by Soundgarden from Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
With all the hype surrounding The Avengers, being the unprecedented bringing-together-of-heroes-from-different-franchises-from-the-geek-god-himself-Joss-Whedon, it’s easy to overlook another truly awesome aspect of the film, that it featured the first single of a reunited Soundgarden!
The legendary band, one of the four seminal grunge bands to come out of Seattle in the 1990s, had broken up in 1997, with frontman Chris Cornell going on to lead the band Audioslave. They officially came back together in 2010, but didn’t release any material until 2012, with Live to Rise.
The song is rocking anthem to the unified superheroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has been criminally overlooked in the years since. It bears all the moody grunginess of the Soundgarden of the 1990s, combined with a certain solemnity and ponderousness, before jumping back into an all-out-rock-bliss that reminds us that The Avengers are here to stay, and will always Live to Rise.
23. Immortals by Fall Out Boy from Big Hero 6 (2014)
I mean, it’s Fall Out Boy. So it’s….there.
24. Heathens by 21 Pilots from Suicide Squad (2016)
This song became a chart-topping billboard number, in spite of being moody even for 21 Pilots. It’s not exactly a traditional knee-slapping number, but it seems to have struck a chord with many.
25. All the Stars by Kendrick Lamarr & SZA from Black Panther (2018)
If you’re a hip hop fan, this Oscar-nominated song (the only one on this list) probably hits all the right notes for you. If you’re not a hip hop fan, Kendrick’s verses aren't going to make you an instant convert. The most enticing part by far is the hypnotic refrain as sung by SZA which seems to sync perfectly with the epic story of T’Challa.
26. Sunflower by Post Malone & Swae Lee from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
2018 was the year of superhero hip-hop songs! This one comes from the early part of the film, as we are getting to know Miles Morales, and proved to be one part of a fan-favorite soundtrack!
27. What's Up Danger by Blackway and Black Caviar from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
This number, which memorably plays as Miles takes his first steps as Spider-Man, took on a real following, webbing its way into the hearts and minds of plenty.