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?

And don’t even get me started on Sharon Goddamned Carter.

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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?

And don’t even get me started on Emily Goddamned VanCamp.

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.

7. Superman

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.

6. Ant-Man

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.

5. Hawkeye

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.

Incidentally, this is the whole problem with YouTube. You start clicking links of Grant Gustin singing and then fall down a rabbit hole for three solid hours.

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.

2. Star-Lord

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?

Hells yes, you can.

And finally…

1. Supergirl

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.

Jordon Davis

B.A. Political Science, SUNY Albany - 1991
Master of Public Administration, University of Georgia - 1993
Juris Doctorate, Emory University - 1996

Admitted:
State of Georgia - 1996
State of New York - 1997

Winner:
Fields Medal (with Laurent Lafforgue and Vladimir Voevodsky) - 1998

Follow Jordon at @LossLeader on Twitter.

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  • Deneb T. Hall

    OK, here’s a few. The Golden Age Vigilante was a professional country-western singer. There’s a modern version of the Black Canary who sings in a rock band. The DCAU version of Batman sang ‘Am I Blue?’ in an episode of JLU. Spider-Man got his own musical, so I assume he sang a song or two, and Darkwing Duck actually defeats a crook while singing an Elvis-style ditty.

    • PhysUnknown

      No mention of Dazzler?

      • Deneb T. Hall

        You’re quite right – she should get a mention.

      • Chris Hedrick

        DID she sing? I don’t know much about her, except that she did roller disco. I don’t even know if roller disco was still the “in thing” when she did it.

        • mamba

          Yes, she sang quite often in her comics, and even when she joined the X-men she was still putting on concerts on the side. But since there has been no live action version of her to judge, HOW she sings is still a good question.

          As for roller disco, it was dying when marvel brought out Dazzler. They had a cute idea and a nice powerset, but they missed the boat on popularity by about a decade.

          • Chris Hedrick

            It’s amazing how fast trends die, compared to how long they’re portrayed as popular by the media.

    • Greenhornet

      The JLU episode you refer to was one of the funniest and featured my favorite character (Zatanna). Circe said she’d change WW back to human ONLY if Batman sang for her. Which he did and it was not that good. But Batman is “GOD!” in DC, so he can do anything better than everybody.
      I used to be a Batman fan, but now he’s just annoys me.

      • Deneb T. Hall

        I must admit, I haven’t actually seen it yet myself – I just know it by reputation. I’m currently catching up on the original Justice League series; JLU will be next.

        Yeah, I’m not always a huge fan of the current comics myself. The cool thing about a character as long-lasting as Batman, though, is that there are decades of material available to you, in which there’s bound to be SOMETHING you like. Want some classic light-hearted superhero action? Check out Batman from the ’40’s or ’50’s. Want something a bit darker, but maybe a bit more balanced than today’s stuff? Check out some ’70’s comics, and so on. And, of course, there’s all the shows and movies he’s been in. There’s enough Batman for EVERYONE to be a fan!

        • Xander

          I liked Batman quite a bit through the JLA story Tower of Babel, which showed him as very smart but arrogant and paranoid and fallible. It was when Grant Morrison started writing him that he became Batgod instead of Batman, but that was after Identity Crisis, and everything sucked about DC comics after Identity Crisis.

      • Spuddie

        Kevin Conroy’s Batman is the only one which does not overstay its welcome. Batman Beyond was a great way to put Bruce Wayne out to pasture.

  • Xander

    Has Vibe sung in any episodes other than the fantasy crossover? Because Carlos Valdez has a great voice.

  • As always, pick the one that offends you least.

    In my experience with internet communities, people prefer to pick the one that offends them most.

  • ZeDude

    The JLU episode you refer to was one of the funniest and featured my favorite character (Zatanna). Circe said she’d change WW back to human ONLY if Batman sang for her. Which he did and it was not that good. But Batman is “GOD!” in DC, so he can do anything better than everybody.I used to be a Batman fan, but now he’s just annoys me

    • Greenhornet

      Sure wish I said that, ASSHOLE.

      • Tyler Peterson

        We got another bot infestation. Turned up on one of my recent articles too. I’ll get Winston to call the guy who sprays the corners of the website and lays out traps.

    • Jordon Davis
  • Jordon Davis

    Thanks for the leads.

  • Spuddie

    So Wynn Schott only gets taken out of the running for not being super powered. :(

    Jeremy Jordan’s voice was phenomenal in the musical crossover episode.

    But definitely Melissa Benoist/Supergirl gets the #1 spot.

    • Jordon Davis

      Weird footnote on Jeremy Jordan: He played Jamie in “The Last Five Years” which was written by my friend from high school, Jason Brown. So, basically, Jeremy Jordan and I are best friends.