Jun 18, 2020
Superheroes, ranked (by singing ability)
Superheroes: they’re great. But which one is the best? Is it Captain Marvel, the mightiest Avenger? Or maybe Lady Sif, the character that they took a great deal of time to establish and then just abandoned completely in favor of Valkyrie because of a scheduling problem with Blindspot?
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You know what’s also great? Music. But which one is the best? Is it Brie Larson singing “She Said”, or maybe Jamie Alexander who got shafted in favor of Tessa Thompson (singing “Breathe”) because of a scheduling problem with Blindspot?
So it only stands to reason that my favorite thing of all things is superheroes singing. Nothing makes me happier than when a comic book character just bursts into song. It is, admittedly, a very specific fetish.
For your enjoyment, I’ve compiled the very best examples of superheroes who can’t contain the songs in their hearts. But first, some ground rules (almost all of which I will break):
- Characters, not actors. For example, we know Hugh Jackman can sing. Wolverine, however, can’t. Or won’t. As always, pick the one that offends you least.
- No parodies! No matter how good this video looks, Ryan Reynolds is not singing this song.
- No ironic musicals. You really should watch Superman and Batman fight-singing in Holy Musical B@tman! But for our purposes, it doesn’t count.
Ironic musicals aren’t nearly good enough for us. But we never said anything about heartfelt, honest musicals. In 1966, It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman opened on Broadway—the actual Broadway, the one in New York City and everything. It was nominated for three Tony awards.
Now, make no mistake, it was terrible. But it was also fully licensed. Sadly, there’s not much left of the original Broadway production. Even more sadly, in 1975 they aired a heavily edited version on ABC—the actual ABC, the NYPD Blue ABC. Played by David Wilson, this version of Superman is exceedingly well grounded, insofar as he’s way too fat to fly. He’s also not a very good singer. Still, at least he wasn’t directed by Zack Snyder.
Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the entire musical.
Skip to 1:03:46 to see a very depressed Superman complain in 3/4 time. And don’t even get me started on Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t exactly known for its musical numbers. Most of the actors can sing, but the characters tend to be too busy for that. Not so for Scott Lang. He’s not busy at all. Since being placed under house arrest for violating the Sokovia Accords, he’s had plenty of time to himself. And in Ant-Man and the Wasp, we see how he’s been spending it.
We can’t actually show the whole clip because it would be very, very illegal. You’re just going to have to trust that, like Phil Collins before him, Scotty’s a drummer who also fronts the band. Spoiler alert: This information is in no way a spoiler.
Yeah, he only sings two lines, but it still counts. You try coming up with this list.
This one’s going to break a few rules, but it’s just way too good. Technically, this is a parody. But even more technically, this is actually Jeremy Renner actually wearing his Hawkeye costume actually singing completely in character.
Frankly, if anybody has a problem with this entry, it should be that Hawkeye isn’t a superhero. Also, Renner is the first person on this list who is in any way a good singer.
4. The Flash
It’s a fact universally acknowledged that every single person on every DC superhero show on the CW can sing. Jesse L. Martin was in the original cast of Rent. Jeremy Jordan is arguably the best singer of them all. But these guys don’t make the list. First of all, even in The Flash‘s musical episode, they barely appear. Second, neither of them are technically super.
Barry Allen, on the other hand, can sing. Most people think they only heard him in the alternate Music Meister dimension in the episode “Duet”. Those people are stupid and ugly and wrong. After the spell was broken, Barry still sang. And he freaking nailed it.
3. Loki and the Scarlet Witch
Now I’m just plain cheating. Loki and Wanda Maximoff have never actually appeared in the same scene, let alone done it to music (not that this isn’t the subject of a disturbing amount of fan fiction). But Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen sang together.
The movie is I Saw the Light. It’s the story of Hank Williams and his wife Audrey. And dammit all to hell if they don’t do this:
Incidentally, Olsen’s singing badly on purpose. Audrey Williams was absolutely terrible.
Sure, this isn’t a superhero movie, per se. But let’s all just pretend that Wanda got into Loki’s mind and their combined psychic powers blasted them into an alternate reality where they’re married country singers. We might as well. It’s better than most of the fan fiction.
Peter Quill is, at best, a very bad singer. Chris Pratt isn’t much better. But the thing they both share is that they just love doing it. And it’s the sheer joy that gets this Guardian to number two on the list. Sure, Ronan is about to kill everybody and everything is terrible and the whole plan has just fallen completely apart, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t time for a little fun. Because dancing is how heroes are born.
Do you believe in rock and roll? Can music save your half-mortal, half-celestial soul? And can you teach Zoe Saldana how to dance real slow?
Checking off all the boxes on our made-up list, Supergirl Kara Zor-El Danvers Whatever is not just played by an actress who can sing. The clip below isn’t some cruddy musical knock-off from the ’70s. This isn’t some joke at Comic Con.
Completely in-universe on the WB, Supergirl herself possesses the power of song. The Flash confirms it when he says to her, “The last adventure that we had together, I learned about a very cool, new, non-superpower ability that you have.” And that ability just kicks all the ass.
In a non-musical episode, they let Melissa Benoist sing for a full minute. That’s more screentime than she got on Glee.
Feel free to leave a comment with all the clips I forgot. Did Tony Stark hum something while looking for Ultron? Did Tom Welling sing five notes in the shower once? Did Cyclops go undercover to infiltrate a local TV dance show? Did anybody strum a few chords in those Fantastic Four movies that I refuse to see? Can we somehow argue that Katniss Everdeen is both super and a hero?
I want to know. I mean, I really want to know. I’ve been watching Winter Soldier frame by frame for the last two days hoping to see a guitar in Steve Rogers’ apartment. I could use the help.