The opening theme of a television show is always one of the most important ingredients that makes a series truly great, and that statement is probably doubly true when it comes to superhero cartoons. The show can have action, adventure, intrigue, and drama. But it's still just not complete without memorable music to lead the viewer into the action.
Whether it's the iconic Batman or Spider-Man themes of yesteryear, or the more modern X-Men or Spider-Man themes, having the right tunes to rev up the audience for battle always makes a superhero show that much more enjoyable.With Phoenix Comicon right around the corner it seemed like the right time to discuss the 10 best television superhero theme songs of all time.
10. The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (2010)
Not too many cartoon superhero theme songs can be accurately described as glam metal, but it's a new day for music. Bad City gave birth to the theme music for the 2010 Avengers cartoon, and while it's still obviously a superhero theme — you can clearly hear the words "Avengers, assemble!" in the middle — it still might be the closest thing to a standalone track of any of the songs on this list. It's catchy and it has a got a pretty hardcore breakdown toward the end, and it comes off as just a bit more modern than most other superhero themes.
9. Static Shock (2004)
Of all the superhero theme songs that made the cut, Static Shock is probably the one that would be easiest to dance to. It's fast-paced and upbeat, and it doesn't even mention the hero's name in it. It's a hip-hop instrumental quite reminiscent of early '90s club rap that makes for an exciting intro to the television show, though it would probably do just as well at a breakdancing competition.
8. Spider-Man (1994)
Spider-Man may be the most popular superhero on Earth, and while that definitely earned the webslinger some points, the reason why he made this list twice is he really does have two different theme songs that are totally awesome. The original theme has more of a vintage feel to it than the '90s cartoon theme, but the newer version is still a classic in and of itself. While the '60s tune is cartoon-y and old-school, the 1994 cartoon had a totally modern and rocking theme song, complete with shredding guitar solos and faux-futuristic robot voices.
7. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993)
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers may have been just some American kids building stories around stock Japanese footage, but the theme song was all original. The original five rangers spawned a brand so far reaching that there are still new shows, and toys, coming out to this day, and that's probably in no small part due to the signature theme song that every kid sang along too - “Go go Power Rangers.”
6. Speed Racer (1966)
The Speed Racer theme is an absolute classic, and on top of that, it's a pretty fun song. It's got a 1950s rock 'n' roll feel to it that is just this side of proto-punk. Plus, the horn section really adds a kick to the tune. It's such an enduring theme song that even though the cartoon is decades old, children of all ages still know it, and most of their parents do, too.
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
There might not be a better way to describe this superhero theme than with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' own catchphrase "Cowabunga, dudes." Not only does the song tell an abridged version of the adolescent animals' origin story, but it's fun and it has withstood the test of time as a song that will worm its way into your brain and stay for a day or two.
4. The Original Spider-Man Theme (1967)
“Spider-Man Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can." Simple, to the point, and completely unforgettable. Once you hear the song, not only do you know the words, but odds are you're going to have no choice but to finish the chorus. Not only does the track completely describe the cartoon, but because the spider fans who hear it can never forget it, it's definitely one of the best superhero theme songs out there.
3. Inspector Gadget (1983)
The Inspector Gadget theme song is so good that DJs remix it all the time into club bangers. Inspector Gadget may not be much more than the Six Million Dollar Man for kids, but his theme song is the sort of Saturday morning cartoon show song that will go down in history. Everyone 20 and older has at some point sang the tune “do do do do do In-spec-tor Gad-get,” and that's what makes it so unforgettable and one of the best cartoon super hero themes of all time.
2. The Original Batman Theme (1966)
Is there a more iconic TV super hero theme song than “na na na na na na na na BATMAN”? If there is I don’t want to know about it. The original Batman television theme song is one of those iconic pieces of Americana, and it is not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s a jazzy upbeat horn laden tune that gets your foot tapping. It’s the perfect song to go along with the show itself, which was really just a live-action cartoon.
1. X-Men: The Animated Series (1992)
Was there ever a cartoon theme that got the viewer more pumped than the theme song to the mid-’90s X-Men: The Animated Series? It was high-energy, and it was the sort of song that prepared the viewer to jump right into the show and fight alongside Wolverine, Jean Grey, Professor X, and all of the rest of Marvel’s signature mutants. It’s a horrible shame the movies didn't quite match the cartoon series' commitment to the source material, but at least fans can revel in the extremely choice theme song to their Saturday morning cartoon show.
UPDATE: The numbering on this list has changed since original publication.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.