I'm a sucker for a good superhero score. A good superhero score should be distinguishable from a mere action movie soundtrack. The hero should have an appropriate, easily identified musical theme that describes his or her character. If the hero is tragic or dark, (e.g., Batman, Wolverine, Ghost Rider) his theme should reflect it. If the hero is powerful or inspiring (e.g., Superman, Spider-Man), you should be able to tell from his theme. And it always helps if the villain has a strong theme as well.
Up until a few years ago superhero movie scores seemed to be dominated by a few composers; most notably John Williams (Superman (1978)) and Danny Elfman (Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), Hulk (2003)). However, in recent years a number of decent to excellent composers have contributed to the growing body of superhero scores. One of my favorites is John Ottman (X-Men 2 (2003), Fantastic Four (2005), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), Superman Returns (2006), Astro Boy (2009)), who has become increasingly well-known for his superhero music. Even Hans Zimmer has gotten into the game. Zimmer was already popular for numerous film scores before he composed the music to Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008) with James Newton Howard.
While surfing Amazon.com for mp3 albums, I came across the music of Christopher Drake. Drake has scored a number of direct-to-video animated movies based on DC characters. This includes the film Batman: Under the Red Hood, which I've mentioned before, and Superman Batman: Public Enemies. These movies may have gone directly to DVD, but there was no scrimping on the soundtracks; they could easily have accompanied any big budget summer film.
Batman: Under the Red Hood:
What really sets Drake's music apart from Zimmer's and Howard's Batman scores is a memorable theme for the titular character. Don't get me wrong, The Dark Knight is one of my favorite movie soundtracks, but does anyone really remember Batman's theme from Batman Begins or The Dark Knight? Believe it or not it's the same in both movies, but it's not particularly catchy. In fact, the Joker and Two-Face both had more memorable themes than the hero did. For Red Hood Drake was given the unenviable task of writing a new theme for one of the best known comic book characters; a task which he did very well.
Superman Batman: Public Enemies: