This month, New York’s Museum of Modern Art added the first-ever movie opening title sequence to its permanent collection. The film? The 1964 Bond classic "Goldfinger," designed and directed by Robert Brownjohn. (The induction also happens to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Bond franchise). While there is no disputing the movie's place in the annals of movie history, here are some other opening credits that refused to blandly list out crew names in favor of something much more memorable.
11. SNEAKERS (1992)
This criminally underrated spy comedy (seriously, if you haven’t seen it, correct that life-mistake immediately), starring Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd and the late River Phoenix, dealt with a motley team of hackers and code-crackers. So it’s fitting that the opening titles featured some code decryption of its own in the form of anagrams (“A Turnip Cures Elvis” becomes “Universal Pictures”).
10. SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004)
Even when the first film in your franchise makes a billion dollars, you can’t expect everyone to remember every major plot point by the time the sequel rolls around. "Spider-Man 2" took care of that by having fan favorite comic book artist Alex Ross – known for his intricate and extremely life-like superhero art – visually recap "Spider-Man" as the credits rolled. It was useful, it fit the comic book DNA of the movie, and it looked cool. Mission accomplished.
9. SUPERBAD (2007)
Sometimes, all you need is a simple idea executed well. Silhouettes of stars Michael Cera and Jonah Hill dance to “Too Hot to Stop” by the Bar-Kays. And that’s it. Director Greg Mottola said he used old R&B as the soundtrack in order to give the movie a timeless feel, so the music wouldn’t date it too badly in two or three years time. It works.
8. FLASH GORDON (1980)
The artwork says “original Flash Gordon comic serials of the 1930s,” but the face-shredding musical accompaniment screams “bowing before Freddie Mercury of the 1980s.” Is it overwrought? Hell yeah, and that’s why it is glorious. Instead of being opening credits, it becomes some kind of tripped-out Queen laser lightshow and that is never, ever a bad thing.
7. EASY A (2010)
Teen comedies shouldn’t bother themselves to be this clever — and that statement can pretty much be applied to all of "Easy A," which is much better than it has any right to be. The opening titles are laid out in the quad of a California high school like discarded knapsacks or notebooks. Characters step over them as they pass. It’s not mind-blowing, but it’s commendably outside the box.
6. FIGHT CLUB (1999)
David Fincher’s millennial mindf**k starts with a jolt, as the Dust Brothers kickstart a twirly trip through … at first, you’re not sure. Are you in space? Underwater? It’s not until the end that you realize you’ve been traveling through the main characters’ brain, exiting through a pore in his skin and down the barrel of a gun as a bead of sweat. Amazeballs.
5. KISS KISS BANG BANG (2005)
This throwback comedy thriller has a film noir vibe that director Shane Black plays up to the hilt in the opening credits. Stark, retro illustrations and swirling imagery look like they were salvaged from some kind of lost '60s Bond film (this was several years before "Mad Men" would invoke a similar feeling with its titles). Composer John Ottman doesn’t just score films, he’s also an editor, which is why the images and the music work so well together.
4. ENTER THE VOID (2009)
Director Gaspar Noe’s trippy, drugged-out film — about a low-level dealer living in Tokyo who gets killed but whose soul continues to float around the city — isn’t for everyone, and that point is made with a vengeance in the opening credits. Prone to seizures? Sorry, you’re SOL. Even the “music” sounds like a mistake at first — is something caught in a reel? Can the projectionist fix that? These aren’t opening credits, they’re a dare. Will you keep watching?
3. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (2010)
First of all, major kudos to this video game-themed comedy for starting with a perfect 8-bit version of the Universal Pictures logo and music.
From there, you get a bit of story — so much so, you think maybe the movie will dispense with opening credits altogether. But director Edgar Wright performs some neat camera trickery and BLAMMO — high-energy, notebook-art inspired credits set to the music of “Sex Bob-omb” (actually written and performed by Beck) that launches the movie into instant cult classic status.
2. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2011)
You may remember director David Fincher from the #6 spot on this list ("Fight Club"), but he outdid himself with his adaptation of the Stieg Larsson bestseller. Teaming up with Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor, he concocts a sequence that can only be described as “Evil James Bond.” Thematic imagery twists into itself as Reznor and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O get Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” drunk and take it to an S & M club.
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1. WATCHMEN (2009)
Not so much an opening credit sequence as a mini-movie music video, Zach Snyder’s intro to his adaptation of the seminal Alan Moore graphic novel is actually the highlight of the whole film. Establishing the movie’s time period (an alternate-reality 1980s) and getting a lot of exposition out of the way, it quickly recaps the story of a world where flawed costumed heroes exist and have altered a history that looks vaguely like our own. And it’s all set to Bob Dylan’s mournful and relevant “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” References abound throughout the sequence, from V-J Day to Batman.