There are roughly a million trailers for Captain Marvel. OK, maybe it’s more like a handful. I came across one that used the Elastica song, Connection. Yep, that is Elastica as in ’90s Britpop band Elastica. College Patrick was very happy.
I have no idea whether or not Connection is used in the actual movie, but it got me thinking about other songs featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). And boy oh boy, there are a lot — Guardians Of The Galaxy alone could fill this list. But it’s those moments when a song is perfectly paired to a moment that particularly interested me.
So without much more hype, here are my favorite song-and-scene combos from the MCU.
(While X-Men and Deadpool are also Marvel, I’m sticking purely to the MCU for this list. So Salt-N-Pepa’s Shoop from the bridge scene in Deadpool or Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics from Quicksilver’s evacuation in X-Men Apocalypse aren’t included.)
11. Captain America: The Winter Soldier — Trouble Man by Marvin Gaye
“On your left.” Steve Rogers wakes up in a hospital covered in bruises given to him by the Winter Soldier. His pal Sam is bedside listening to Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man on his iPhone. The song’s tone and lyrics echo the tangle of relationships and justice Captain America finds himself wrapped up in.
“I come up hard baby, but now I’m cool…
“I didn’t make it sugar, playin’ by the rules.”
Cap wakes up, hears the song and sees Sam. After a moment, he says, “On your left.” Sam responds with a small knowing smile.
10. Spider-man: Homecoming — Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones
As soon as I heard Peter Parker’s Queens accent, I just knew a song from Queens punk rockers the Ramones was bound to show up. And boy, did it. After Peter puts on his new Spidey suit, he bounds into action with Blitzkrieg Bop playing in the background. The bouncy-fast beat drives a montage of Spider-man trying to find crime to stop. The song’s fast energy matches Peter’s eagerness. There is a nice cameo of Stan Lee, who warns Spidey, “Don’t make me come down there, you punk!”
9. Black Panther — Opps by Yugen Blakrok and Vince Staples
Black Panther has hands-down one of the best soundtracks and scores of any film. Recently, composer Ludwig Goransson won an Oscar for his Black Panther score. The closing credits song All The Stars by Kendrick Lamar and SZA is also bonkers-good — I swear I got goosebumps the first time I heard it in a theater.
But, my favorite song-and-scene moment from Black Panther was the car chase with Ulysses Klaue and Black Panther. After escaping a fight in a club, Klaue hops into an SUV and says, “Put on some music on. What do you think this is, a funeral?” Opps starts to play and an epic chase ensues, complete with T’Challa surfing on the hood of a Lexus that’s remotely driven by Shuri. The song makes Black Panther, Okoye, Shuri and Nakia seem even more badass.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy — Come and Get Your Love by Redbone
There is an Indiana Jones vibe to Chris Pratt as Peter Quill, but that’s only part of who Star Lord is. He’s also kind of goofy and childish. As the opening titles of Guardians of the Galaxy hit the screen, Peter Quill takes off his Star Lord mask and then plays Get Your Love on his Walkman. As he crosses ruins looking for an orb, Quill playfully dances, splashing puddles like Gene Kelly in Singing In The Rain. At one point, he grabs a ratlike creature and uses its body as a mic to lip-sync into. This scene quickly sets up the adventure comedy tone that is the backbone for the entire movie.
7. Iron Man — Back In Black by AC/DC
No John Williams or Hans Zimmer here, like those other superhero films of the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s. Instead, after a demonstration of his Jericho missile, Tony Stark rides in a convoy sipping whiskey as AC/DC plays. Welcome to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Back In Black reflects not only Tony Stark’s spirit but also establishes him as a true rock-and-roll superhero.
6. Guardians Of The Galaxy — O-o-h Child by The Five Stairsteps
The dance-off Peter Quill uses to distract Ronan to get the upper hand is entertaining, desperate, funny and ingenious. The fact that it’s O-o-h Child makes it all the more heightened. In response to Quill’s running man dance, Ronan can only say, “What are you doing?”
5. The Avengers — Shoot to Thrill by AC/DC
Captain America fights Loki on the ground while Black Widow provides coverage from the air in a quinjet. All of a sudden, Tony Stark’s voice is heard, “Agent Romanoff, miss me?” The jet’s PA system is overridden and Shoot To Thrill plays as Iron Man swoops in, blasts Loki and dares him to “make a move, Reindeer Games.” The whole sequence is a reminder of Iron Man’s dominance in the Avengers.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy — I Want You Back by The Jackson 5
It was heartbreaking to see Groot sacrifice himself to save his friends. But luckily a mid-credit scene gives us closure as well as a hint that Groot is still around…sort of. While Drax cleans his swords, a potted Baby Groot dances to The Jackson 5’s I Want You Back. When Drax turns to look, Baby Groot freezes only to resume dancing when Drax looks away.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — The Chain by Fleetwood Mac
The Chain plays as Peter, Gamora and Drax leave with Ego, who claims to be Peter’s father. On the ship, Peter ponders his newly discovered father while looking over a picture of his pretend father, David Hasselhoff. But really the song lines up so well with the state of the Guardians.
“And if you don’t love me now…
“You will never love me again…
“I can still hear you saying…
“You would never break the chain.”
As the Guardians split-up even if its temporary, there are unsettled matters between each of them. And it’s not until they are pushed to their limits by Ego that we see them come back together.
2. Iron Man — Iron Man by Black Sabbath
One of the best last lines of any movie. In front of reporters, Tony Stark, with a written statement in hand, goes off-script and says, “The truth is… I am Iron Man.” After a reaction shot of a shocked press corp, there is an immediate cut to credits with Black Sabbath’s Iron Man playing. The song launches Iron Man and Marvel perfectly into orbit.
1. Thor Ragnarok — Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin
This song marked a cinematic rebranding for Thor, and it’s used a couple of times in the film. But it’s when Thor, God of Thunder finds his… well, Thunder that it really nails things. The song cranks as a wide shot of Thor bounding into battle in slow motion, with bolts of lightning at his back. It’s about as epic as it gets.