In all the media hullabaloo surrounding the Fourth of July festivities this year, it’s likely you missed a more solemn, considered meditation on heroes within the pages of RedState.
On Saturday, my colleague Shipwreckedcrew wrote a comprehensive review of “The Outpost,” a film based on Jake Tapper’s book about “Combat Outpost Keating,” which was manned by “the most decorated unit of the Afghanistan War,” as a promo video in his piece called them. So, it was fitting that its publication fell on Independence Day, the ultimate, American holiday of the year.
While “The Outpost” shares the story of these worthy, real-life heroes, I think superhero movies, and the all-American soundtracks that underpin them, deserve praise, too — apologies in advance to Martin Scorsese.
For me, the original, 1978 “Superman” movie has some of the most stirring, American music ever composed. And it’s a hidden gem that doesn’t get enough notice these days, when “Star Wars” (1977) and other soundtracks are widely celebrated. The fact that it’s the first superhero movie I ever watched – I was six years old when it came out – might have something to do with it. I can still remember the thrill of hearing the main theme by John Williams for the first time, as my family watched the opening credits through the car’s front windshield at the local drive-in.
To expand even further on this, “Superman” and the other movies in the Christopher Reeve franchise (there were four) couldn’t have a more conservative, American theme. It may be rivaled only by the recent blockbuster “Wonder Woman.”
Don’t get me wrong: the Oscar-winning music for movies like “Joker” and “Titanic” stir emotions, too, but they have a dark vision underlying them. Something tragic is about to happen, the music tells the audience. And, rightly, it prepares us for those eventualities.
“Superman” is different. It’s optimistic, through and through, since the hero stands for all of the best things: “truth, justice, and the American way.” And it has a romantic streak, of course, that keeps the viewer on the edge of his or her seat. “Will Lois Lane finally figure out that wimpy, ‘mild-mannered reporter’ Clark Kent was Superman all along?”
We certainly hope so. Just try listening to this and not get goosebumps:
And what would any superhero movie be without a great villain? Here’s the theme for “Superman’s” criminal mastermind nemesis, Lex Luthor (a genius piece of orchestral music that incorporates his sidekicks’ themes, as well):
As an aside about the romantic element: How “Superman” resolved the “will they or won’t they?” conundrum sets it apart from other, more recent action films, like the finale of the original “Star Wars” franchise. Of course, I’m talking about that kiss between Rey and Ben Solo… But it only points to the larger flaw in the movie: Rey’s mysterious, new superpowers.
When “Superman’s” writers give the title character new powers in the sequel involving a smooch, they’re plausible — he’s supposed to protect human beings, and Lois Lane’s “forbidden fruit” knowledge about his real identity is tearing her up inside:
But you don’t have to be satisfied with this paltry sampling of the great musical soundtracks “Superman” boasts. This site, WhatSong.com, has all of the tunes available to listen to — via Apple Music, YouTube, Spotify, or whatever flavor music service you subscribe to. Or you can jaunt over to AllMusic.com for a listen to all of the franchise’s music through 1988.
Happy listening, patriots!