It All Comes Back To Superman Episode 2 – Superman Movie Mix Tape

Come with me, my listeners, as we break the bonds of our podcasting confinement and get our mix tape on.  I’ve got my CD’s picked out, a fresh new 220 minute blank cassette and I am seriously ready to hit pause instead of stop so there’s no clicking as you listen.

That’s right, folks.  It’s time to listen to some Superman movie music.

And not just any Superman movie music.  As John Cusak said in the movie High Fidelity, “Now the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art.”  The easy thing to do would be to just play all of the opening and closing themes to the various Superman movies and be done with it.  But that would be boring and repetitive.  I’m sure I could have gotten some mileage out of comparing the various themes and pointing out how different composers subtly changed the order of the music or what they left out but again that could get really boring, really fast.  More to the point there is more to Superman movie music than the Williams theme and by that I mean there are more themes both for the character and in the various movies as well.

Plus, the selection needed to be personal.  This is my mix tape so it needs to reflect my sensibilities.

With that in mind I put together a track list comprising of music from most (but not all) of the theatrical adventures of the Man of Steel.  We start back in the forties with the Fleischer theme, get into the theme to the two Superman serials, add in some Superman vs The Mole Men and then things start getting interesting as I go through the scores of Superman The MovieSuperman IISuperman IIISupergirlSuperman IV: The Quest For PeaceSuperman Returns and Man of Steel and pick out the tracks and pieces of music that speak to me the most.  These are the tracks that I go to time and again when I want to hear some Superman music.

After that I look some of the solicitations of upcoming Superman trade paperback and hardcover collections because I thought it would be fun.  This is followed by YOUR feedback, so there are Facebook comments, comments left here at the site and even an iTunes review!

Next Time: Just in time for the new season of Supergirl on the CW I’ll be doing a commentary track for the first two episodes of season 2 because they featured some guy named Superman.



  1. Hey Michael! Great episode AND great selections of music.

    The Batman music show was one of my top favorite episodes of Views. And now, you’ve easily topped that.

    You picked exactly the right tracks to showcase the excellent scores, from the various Superman movies. From the helicopter sequence, to the Nuclear Man theme… To Giorgio Moroder’s rendition of the John Williams Superman march. (Which I’ve never heard until this episode and I thank you for that)

    I now want to try and track down the Film Score Monthly Superman: The Music box set.

    Until next time, keep being super.


    P.S. You don’t have to read this bit (aloud) on the show, but for what it’s worth…

    When pronouncing my last name, Doherty, the emphasis is on “door” (like front door) not “doe” (as in “Doe… Rayyy… EGONNNN!”)

  2. Hi there,
    I’m an avid listener to podcasts, including: Superman Homepage, Superman Forever Radio, a couple of Batman podcasts, including Bailey’s Batman Podcast and a couple of Star Trek pods.
    Was listening the other day and heard a spot on another one of your podcasts and now started on Views from the Long Box.
    I started on It all comes back to Superman, and really enjoyed this past episode of the Mix Tape Session, and found myself scrolling back to hear some bars and music cue’s that triggers that emotional response to Superman.
    Anyway makes the work day go by and enjoyed every minute.
    Keep it up!


  3. Listening right now, and enjoying the hell outta this! I have to agree with everything you said on Superman II. That transformation scene is straight outta Curt Swan (and the later JLGL licensing art, as you said), and even then, in the theater in 1981, I recognized this. I sometimes just pop Superman II in to watch it! And the music is great.

    I agree on the Donner Cut being an interesting experiment. I’m glad they did it. I’m glad I own it, but that ending really hurts it. And yes, there are moments in the Lester version that I prefer, and because of cohesiveness and nostalgia, I still consider the Lester (or really Lester/Donner hybrid) version the REAL Superman II. I do wish Lester hadn’t gotten so “Britsh cheeky” with the franchise like the concurrent Roger Moore Bond films (which I enjoy, don’t get me wrong), but it is what it is.

    Listening on, and will comment more later! Thanks for making for a great work day listening to this!


  4. Okay finished the episode… fantastic. I loved your selections, and your editing was impeccable as always. I had no idea this massive Superman Movie Soundtrack boxset existed, or I would have scooped it up instantly. You did a great job of highlighting how the scores of II, III and IV have their own flavor and the interesting ways the following composers reworked Williams’ masterpiece. I can’t say I’m a fan of the electronic version of the Superman theme from III, but hey, it’s unique at least!

    Superman IV’s score does its best to make the movie feel as epic as it was supposed to be, before the slashed budget came in. That movie had ALMOST everything…except money and producers to make sure it got made CORRECTLY. I’ve taken potshots at the Salkinds in the past, but, as you say, you have to give them credit for getting the ball rolling in the first place. And while Superman III is perhaps not the type of story anyone really wanted to see on the big screen (I maintain it’s a fairly accurate movie adaptation of a random Bronze Age Superman comic), you can’t argue that it wasn’t made well. Superman IV…yeah, the Salkinds were missed. But the score IS very nice.

    Can’t wait for the next episode, and you make them however long you want!


  5. What a fascinating show, I especially enjoyed hearing about the composers of the early scores, and it was really interesting to hear how they interpreted the idea of the Man of Steel.

    And I do apologise for confusing you – ‘Superman analogues’ in my head = Supermanalogues… probably I should have used the US spelling! So I was thinking the likes of Supreme, Sentry, Hyperion, Samaritan and so on.

  6. Great job curating the music, Michael! I really appreciated you “fan-ness” coming through, as opposed to a musical analysis. Which allowed me to do a musical analysis as I was listening. I am not the fan of Superman films that you are. I haven’t re-watched them or even paid much attention to the music since playing an arrangement the Williams’ score for concert band in high school. Thanks for taking the time to acknowledge Sammy Timberg’s theme for the original theatrical cartoons. It is still terrific music. (The under-scoring for the rest of the cartoons is by Winston Sharples, whose use of “cutesy” high woodwinds and xylophone annoys me more than it should.) Timberg establishes Superman music as triumphant martial, with a theme that echoes a bugle call. He also utilizes a triplet feel for the rhythm. John Williams picks up on all of this. (Deliberately? Puzo and Donner certainly took a lot from the Fleischer cartoons.) However, Williams’ stuttering bolero-ish rhythm always annoyed me. It also sounded like an inversion of his Star Wars main theme. (Which, I realized much later, was sort of an inversion of his Lost In Space theme.) It was a revelation to hear the later composer, (I should have taken notes last week! Was it Courage?) go in a completely different direction, and move away from the militaristic feel and do more standard movie music. Of course, by the end of the mix-tape it all sounds like generic movie music.
    Thanks for the mix tape! I am looking forward to the TV Superman mix, even thoiugh I’m sure the audio quality will not be great.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *