Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na THEME SONGS!1 of 12
The fall TV season is here, and with it come the debut of new comic book-based TV shows. Though they aren't as essential as they used to be, this also means a new crop of superhero theme songs.
Who can forget singing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme with their friends, or coming home from school and turning on the TV just in time to hear the opening notes of Batman: The Animated Series (which you'll get to hear plenty when the
just-released Blu-ray collection drops)? Heck, The Greatest American Hero made it to #2 on the Billboard charts!
There's no denying the power of a great superhero song, and these are the 10 we consider the very best.
The Greatest American Hero2 of 12
Even if you’ve never seen the cult classic Greatest American Hero in which an average guy gets a special alien suit that gives him superpowers, you’ve definitely heard the theme song, “Walking On Air.”
The show only lasted a few seasons – though it’s often brought up as deserving a revival, something that’s recently been put into motion. But “Walking On Air” has a shelf-life of its own, infecting pop culture from Seinfeld, to Family Guy, and even Homestar Runner.
Space Ghost3 of 12
Before he was a late night talk show host, Space Ghost was a more traditional superhero created in the 60s for Hanna-Barbera’s burgeoning action cartoon line-up.
Anchored by that distant cry and an eerie Theremin howl, the simple theme encapsulates everything great about Space Ghost, from its 60s sci-fi feel to the unearthly nature of its hero.
Flash Gordon4 of 12
Only a legendary rock band like Queen could craft a theme song as outlandish as the one they wrote for 1980’s Flash Gordon and still manage to make it one of the most enduring and unassailable superhero theme songs of all time.
From it’s thumping backbeat, to Freddie Mercury’s chants of “FLASH! Ahhhh ahhhhh!” to Brian May’s signature harmonic riffs, every aspect of this song is totally unexpected, a little bit silly, and wildly outlandish – just like the movie that it was written for.
Wonder Woman5 of 12
Lynda Carter’s classic turn (see what we did there?) as the Amazonian warrior Wonder Woman isn’t quite as all-encompassing as her Justice League compatriot Batman’s became just a few years prior, but its dancy rhythms, disco instrumentation, and incredible urgency have left it stuck in the minds of fans for decades
The recent Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice introduced a new orchestral theme for the heroine as well, consisting of wild, almost shrieking strings and pounding drums that evoke the warrior’s spirit of the Amazons.
Superman: The Movie/Superman: The Animated Series6 of 12
It’s hard to envision Superman in flight without hearing that soaring John Williams score setting the tone. With his Superman: The Movie score, Williams created the prototypical superhero theme and found the perfect balance of hope, adventure, and drama.
The theme was later adapted for Superman: The Animated Series, and when trailers Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were released, many fans didn’t feel they were complete until a few enterprising video editors added the classic Williams score to the mix - something Danny Elfman is doing officially for November's Justice Leaue.
X-Men: The Animated Series7 of 12
It’s rare that a fully instrumental theme song becomes as undeniably iconic as the 90s X-Men theme, but for a whole generation of fans, the shredding guitars and strings of the intro are just as memorable as Jubilee’s inscrutable slang, Rogue’s southern accent, and Wolverine’s snarled “Bub!” when it comes to the show.
And considering how weird the theme song of the show’s predecessor, the one-off animated pilot “Pryde of the X-Men” was, maybe it’s for the best that this one stuck to striking a tone rather than spelling out exactly who the X-Men are in a more typical cartoon fashion.
Batman '668 of 12
It’s hard to imagine a more ubiquitous pop-culture theme song than the iconic intro to the 60s Batman TV show.
Everybody knows that simple but unmistakable refrain – who among us can say they don’t still think “Na na na na na na na na Batman!” every time they see the Caped Crusader?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles9 of 12
In terms of setting a bar for cartoon theme songs, it doesn’t get much higher than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Any 80s/90s kid can sing every word at the drop of a hat, and more than a few friend foursomes defined themselves by the descriptions of the Turtles posited by the song.
Oddly enough, the song was actually written by Chuck Lorre, the producer who would later go on to create extremely popular sitcoms such as Two And A Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.
Spider-Man/Marvel Superheroes10 of 12
Like Batman, the 60s animated Spider-Man theme song is forever linked to the character. Its familiar lyrics, which describe Spider-Man’s powers and attitude, are inextricable from the perception of the wall-crawler. The theme’s tune has even been adapted into the score of nearly every Spider-Man movie, and everyone from the Ramones to Michael Buble have covered the song.
Batman/Batman: The Animated Series11 of 12
There is no superhero theme song more dramatic, more atmospheric, more embodying of its subject than Danny Elfman’s theme song to Batman: The Animated Series, adapted from his score for 1989’s Batman.
Swinging quickly from its understated but moody opening notes to staccato bursts of horns and strings, culminating in a haunting minor key progression, the theme – like the animated series it eventually anchored – captures perfectly everything Batman can be in just a few short measures.
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