Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Marvel Animation Themes (1966 - 2013)

Classic Marvel Theme Songs!

Marvel Super Heroes
The Super Hero Squad Show (yes, that's the actual title).
If you think that Marvel shows began with Robert Downey, Jr., you are sadly misinformed. Many of the great old animated superhero series remain stuck in your memory as much for their theme songs as for their characters.

Marvel animation theme songs. Marvel has been supplying characters for tv animation series for a good fifty years. Naturally, all those series required theme songs.

It must have been quite a job to do this, so my metaphorical hat is metaphorically off to them.

Marvel Super Heroes
"Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" - Firestar. Hmmmmm. Anybody, um, got her number?
This is useful to see the original conceptions for the characters who, in later incarnations, wound up looking incredibly similar to these initial conceptions.

Marvel Super Heroes
Hi, Spidey! "Spider-Man" (1967-1970).
My personal favorite theme is the one to the original "Spider-Man" series because I remember that one and, to me, that original theme song will always be the "actual" theme for every later "Spider-Man" iteration:
♪♫  "Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can, spins a web, any size, catches thieves, just like flies, look out! here comes the Spiderman!" ♫♪
Oh, sorry, you lost me for a moment there. Always loved how Spidey actually waves at the camera and has his own camera that inexplicably says "Your Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman" in the lens.

Marvel Super Heroes
 I always wondered why "Spiderman" in the lens isn't hyphenated? I admit it, I was anal as a kid that way.
Now that's high camp. It almost brings tears to my eyes because of its awesomeness.

Many of these characters, incidentally, have more than one theme song because the characters have different flavors in different television eras. There have been more reboots to these characters than Batman has enemies. However, there is always one that you remember, while the others just become... noise.

Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends Marvel Super Heroes
Now, this is what Green Lantern looks like! "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" (1981-1986).
Some of the themes admittedly are kind of goofy, but memorable for precisely that reason. The disco "Spider-Man" theme is a riot, and the operatic "Silver Surfer" theme not far behind. "Mighty Thor" sounds like a 1950s Western, while "The Man From Atlantis" must have been cooked up originally as a Broadway show tune. The long-forgotten "Solar Man" theme is actually pretty cool:
♪♫ "Our defenses are crumbling/no place to run/ we've only one chance/the light of the sun/who can we turn to/one mighty man/the one who can save us/Solar Man can!" ♫♪
Wasn't enough to save the show, though.

Oh, and here's a hint to future (or present) composers out there: if you want a truly campy, memorable theme song that people will remember decades later, you must have lyrics. A clever melody is not enough unless you are Beethoven or John Williams, and that's a fact! Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer lyrics as the years pass by, and that's a damn shame.

Now, the question may arise, which was the best of these tv series? I have an answer for that, one just leaps out with a zoomin' theme song (though, sadly, no lyrics) and animation that is so good, you wonder how it wound up on television and not in the theater.

Spider-Man 2003
The intro to "Spider-Man" (2003)
It's the 2003 version of "Spider-Man" that takes the prize for top quality. When you watch the video of all the different themes, see if you don't agree that this version, which stars Neil Patrick Harris, Lisa Loeb and Ian Ziering, doesn't just knock your socks off. The animation is stunning, and the DVD package is top grade.

Spider-Man 2003
And here we have proof that Peter Parker... kisses with his eyes open!
I don't know what got into the producers, but they shot it off the charts with the 2003 version of "Spider-Man." In our humble opinion, that series rocks and, if you had to see one Marvel series and call it a day, that would be the one.

Look, even Thor is excited!

Marvel Super Heroes
"Mighty Thor"
It's an open secret that sometimes the intros and theme songs are better than the shows themselves - and not just in animation. Anyone who remembers the intro to the original "Hawaii: Five-O," which was quite possibly the best one-minute music video ever created, can tell you that. Hey, it kept that lame show on the air for twelve years!

This is pop art at its absolute finest.

Marvel Super Heroes
"The Incredible Hulk"
If you have heard and seen all of these before, I have to hand it to you - you are a maven of animation. If these themes and series intros don't bring back a memory or two, well - maybe these will make a few new ones for you. I consider this must-viewing for any serious Marvel fan. You may notice how a tiny hint of romance and sex slyly creeps into the proceedings as the years advance. Viewing this also will give some appreciation for how long Stan Lee has been at this.

In order, the themes are (I did my best with the exact titles):

Captain America
Iron Man
Mighty Thor ("You'll behold in breathless wonder/the god of thunder/Mighty Thor!")
(The Incredible) Hulk
Man From Atlantis ("He can breathe underwater and go anywhere!")
The Fantastic Four
Spider-Woman ("Look, up on the Building, it's Spider-Woman/And this is Jessica Drew!") - by the classic narrator Dick Tufeld
The Incredible Hulk
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
X-Men ("No place to hide/no place to run (no place to run)/Mutants' aid/has now begun")
Solar Man ("Mankind is helpless/It's our last stand!/We need a hero.")
Fantastic Four
Iron Man ("I Am Iron Man/I Am Iron Man")
Fantastic Four
The Incredible Hulk
Silver Surfer
Spider-Man Unlimited
X-Men: Evolution
Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes
The Spectacular Spider-Man ("Livin' on the edge")
Wolverine and the X-Men
Iron Man
The Super Hero Squad Show
Black Panther
Iron Man
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes

Marvel Super Heroes
"Fantastic Four" - this is some awesome drawing by whoever did it. Oh, and the earrings? Nice touch.
Anyone who has any doubts as to why some of us love animation, well, this post is a clue.


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