Superman gets its highly anticipated reboot this week in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and it’s likely to be the biggest movie of 2013. While the Big Blue Boy Scout is perhaps the most famous superhero to don a cape, the truth is there are plenty other heroes out there who are “super” without a yard a half of fabric. Despite popular belief, capes don’t make the man and to prove it is this collection of heroes, and their accompanying film scores, who save the day just fine minus any snag-prone underoos. The great Edna Mode once said that superhero outfits should be “bold, dramatic, heroic” and the one thing she insists so emphatically, “No Capes!“
So which hero, sans the corresponding drapery, gets the job done and saves the day most speedily and satisfactorily? Is it the snarky, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist? Is it the collection rule-breaking vigilantes who are such anti-heroes they are very nearly considered villains? Is it the bunch of young but ambitious mutants enrolled in the oh so private university in upstate New York? Or is it the self-made, style-challenged, comic book-raised avenger of the weak and helpless?? Find out below…
Iron Man 3 – Basically Iron Man is just Batman without the cape…and the attitude. He also knows how to have some fun in the situation and at his own expense. Brian Tyler (and Shane Black) understands that fully and as such he lends his musical genius to the story so much so the result is nothing short of fireworks. Tyler has made a name for himself with high energy and pulse-pounding scores and but like Tony is able to down and has fun on more than one occasion. There’s also amazing choral work that gives the film more of an old Hollywood feel as opposed to “comic book film”. Really, as great as the film is when Tyler hits the gas that’s when things get both dramatic and funky. It all contribute to a score that is bold, epic and emotional and helps raise the bar for what a modern superhero film should be.
Watchmen – Well we said no capes but to be fair Night Owl has a cape…and so does Ozymandias, but for the most part they’re the exceptions as drapery still does not make the man. Tyler Bates, Zack Snyder’s go-to music man (well aside from Man of Steel that is) has a flair for blurring the lines between film and a music video. His power anthems and hard-hitting scores have an oddly hypnotic sound and he has no trouble blending, mixing and warping any and all instrument to get his signature sound. Bates weaves his magic in and around a staggering number of eclectic songs, about as different as the Watchmen themselves, and source material but in a way that seems organic to the story. That’s not easy to do but Bates does it with style.
X-Men: First Class – Every note in Henry Jackman‘s astounding score is extremely befitting of a proper origin story and a sound that any film would be lucky enough to have. His sound is mighty, moving and incredibly reverent to that uncanny comic series that has been around for more than 60 years. Honestly, Jackman’s score is exceptional and you’ll be hard pressed to find other equally great themes that legitimately make you think you were a superhero every time you listened to it. True, his themes get to be a tad redundant but Jackman changes it up from track to track emphasizing different instruments in a way that makes it all feel new. Granted, with so many characters, not everyone’s going to get their own anthem so the flourishes and variations he composes allows the main theme to be split and altered in ways that are almost as distinctive as the X-Men uniforms. Guess it’s no surprise that he’s one of Zimmer’s proteges.
Kick Ass – Likened to the highly stylized and stark chroma drenched pages of the Mark Millar comics (mostly red actually) John Murphy‘s score, with some help from Henry Jackman, is equally as fun colorful and distinctive. Kick-Ass comes from a world where almost anything goes and Murphy’s score follows a similar idea of playing by its own rules. From the light, catchy and energetic “Kick-Ass theme“, to the more tender Big Daddy scenes to the finale track “Flying Home” Murphy’s work grounds this laughable hero but also nearly, gives him the ability to fly thanks to the brilliant orchestral cues, standout brass section and the rocking guitar riffs. Tony Stark may have a laugh at himself but it is Kick-Ass, doesn’t even try to take himself seriously. John Murphy doesn’t either and the score is so much better for it.
Rising, nearly, to the head of the class is the eclectic band of mutant misfits but in this particular battle it is the one and only Iron Man (both super with and without his famous Mark suits) edging out the stiff competition but only by a hair. Forget about Jarvis, here Tony is backed up, propelled rather, by Brian Tyler’s truly sensational music as going toe-to-toe with Xavier’s best and brightest and the other above mentioned supers requires a little more ommpf. Not easy to stand out among this lot of kick-ass heroes but Brian Tyler’s talent for fun and high-octane excitement gives Iron Man 3 the boost it needed both in the film and the standalone score to distance itself from this talented pack of musicians.
Let’s see Tony’s arc reactor try and match the all-out intensity of Brian Tyler’s energetic score.