Posts Tagged ‘heavy metal’

Iron Man’s Heavy Metal Rise

May 14, 2008

iron man

Iron Man took flight on May 2, but its soundtrack is out May 6. And although it features mostly film score from Ramin Djawadi and other composers, there is one headbanging tune worthy of Black Sabbath’s seminal “Iron Man,” which the blockbuster licensed for its trailers and features in its closing credits. That song is Suicidal Tendencies’ “Institutionalized,” the sardonic punk anthem which also appeared in the immortal sci-fi flick Repo Man. That’s some righteous circularity.

But Iron Man’s sonic branches reach further, starting with Sabbath.

Black Sabbath, “Iron Man” (1970)

Iron Man the superhero made his comics debut in 1963, but seven years later Ozzy Osbourne and his godfathers of heavy metal released an equally iconic song. Black Sabbath’s iteration of Iron Man is actually a time traveler who turned to steel after passing through a magentic field, at which point he was given the torch-and-pitchfork treatment by his ungrateful planet. Which he then proceeded to stomp into submission for their lack of compassion. Sounds more like the Hulk to me.

Despite the fact Sabbath’s “Iron Man” became the de facto heavy metal anthem after its release in 1970, it wasn’t until 30 years later that the Grammys finally caught up, bestowing a “Best Metal Performance” trophy on the Birmingham legends in 2000. But they weren’t alone in their dereliction: The song hovered below the Top 50 right after it came out. Maybe the spacey visuals from their video at right scared everyone off. Well, that and the skull-crushing power chords.

The Cardigans, “Iron Man” (1996)
Sabbath’s song spawned a few covers, but few as weird as this one from Swedish outfit The Cardigans. Hearing Sabbath’s pounding riffage compressed into saccharine pop is odd enough, but par for the course for The Cardigans: They also covered “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” on their 1994 debut Emmerdale.

Pete Townshend, The Iron Man: A Musical (1989)
The Who’s mastermind adapted his musical from poet Ted Hughes’ 1968 novel, both of which in turn were hardwired into Brad Bird’s classic 1999 animated film The Iron Giant. That musical pedigree was further extended when Bird signed on Harry Connick, Jr. to voice one of the film’s main characters, Dean.

Ghostface Killah, Ironman (1996)
Even though the Wu-Tang lifer’s first solo effort featured production from Clan architect RZA and colleagues Cappadonna and Raekwon, Ironman was nevertheless the softest thing he ever released. Shot through with soul samples and stream-of-consciousness confessionals about his mother and others, Ghost’s breakout as a one-man band could have used more steel. But it did tip its metaphorical hat both to metal and comics, in the songs “Iron Maiden” and “Marvel,” respectively. According to, Ghostface also appears on the Iron Man soundtrack. Recognize!

Suicidal Tendencies, “Institutionalized” (1983)
It seems that Tony Stark may have somehow gotten Suicidal’s Mike Muir his historic Pepsi at last. Stark is far from the misunderstood depressive Muir sings about, who just wants to be left alone with his favorite carbonated soda, but the song’s sound and fury fits perfectly with a film about a cyborg trapped in heavy metal and trying to hold onto his sanity. “Institutionalized” became a hit with the release of Suicidal Tendencies’ self-titled 1983 debut, then gained further momentum after landing on the Repo Man soundtrack, along with Iggy Pop, Black Flag, the Circle Jerks and more. By the time Guitar Hero got to it, it had become an anthem for the ages.