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Superhero Movies And Their Tragic Obsession With 90s Rock Music

By  · Published on July 5th, 2012

With The Amazing Spider-Man swinging into theaters this weekend, I wanted to take a moment to look back on past superhero movies – not to analyze the characters, the various actors who have played them, the directors, the reboots, remakes, or re-imaginings – I want to talk about the music. (Because, you know, that’s what we do here.) The music, which accompanies these larger than life films full of cutting edge technology, vehicles, and gadgets, but often sounds like it was pulled straight out of the ’90s rock scene.

I have rounded up five songs from various superhero movies that seem a bit out of place alongside the web slinging, Hulk smashing action on screen. These songs usually end up playing over the film’s credits (and rarely end up in the movie itself), but even as a footnote, these particular tracks never sound quite on par with the films they are featured in.

The songs attempt to add to the emotional undertone of the film or provide one last blast of adrenaline as you walk out of the theater, but with all the high octane action seen on screen, it is strange to see these films paired with songs that do not quite match their tone and pacing.

5. “Shoot to Thrill” – AC/DC, Iron Man 2 (2010)

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), the genius who is constantly creating new, advanced technology, sure seems to love this classic rock band (they have made up the soundtracks for both Iron Man and Iron Man 2.) AC/DC’s rock sound and showmanship (also featured in the video) make sense paired with the scene stealing Stark, but one song from the band would have driven home this point and potentially allowed for more current bands to help shape (and update) Iron Man’s world.

4. “For You” – The Calling, Daredevil (2003)

The lyrics for “For You” certainly help capture the feelings of Daredevil (Ben Affleck) and Elektra’s (Jennifer Gardner) relationship (as featured in the music video), but considering these two spend their free time bringing badies to their knees, the string-driven rock ballad seemed a bit off when representing their slightly more violent personalities (and start to their relationship.) Having a rock band infuse the song with more back beat and percussion made sense, but the tone still seemed a bit too mellow for this ass-kicking pair.

3. “Sooner or Later” – Switchfoot, Elektra (2005)

Speaking of Elektra, Gardner got her own film that also had a band (Switchfoot) crooning a rock ballad which, again, failed to deliver the necessary punch for such a character. The song worked to play to the emotions of the character and film, but as Gardner proved she is a woman who can certainly fend for herself (and paved the way for her role as Sydney Bristow in the TV series, Alias) the song seemed out of place and dated.

2. “Live to Rise” – Soundgarden, The Avengers (2012)

There is no question that The Avengers destroyed at the box office this year, but for a film filled with high-tech gadgets and an intergalactic invasion, Soundgarden’s “Live to Rise” did not quite rise to the occasion to add to the futuristic feel of this break away hit. The chorus picks up the tempo a bit, but a song for such a monster hit (that also featured such a large number of the “monsters” from the Marvel world) should not have felt like it was whispering when it should have been yelling.

1.“Hero” – Chad Kroeger (featuring Josey Scott), Spider-Man (2002)

While The Amazing Spider-Man has a compelling and interesting score by James Horner, who starts the film off with horns rather than the typical percussion and strings, the soundtrack for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man featured a song from Kroeger and Scott, whose ’90s rock sound made sense considering we were just coming out of that decade when this film was released, but the song’s attempt to sound hopeful and heroic always seemed a bit too forced. The lyrics may call for us to “hold onto the wings of the eagles,” but this song never really takes off.

What did you think of these songs when you heard them on the film’s soundtracks? What bands do you think could have been used instead? Was there a song I missed?

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