Intergalactic! The Beastie Boys in Disney and Universal Media

the beastie boys

January 7, 2024

Written by: Jim Smith

(A version of this article was shared with Laughing Place and published on January 17, 2024.)

“Let me clear my throat…MMM Drop!”

Have you noticed a recent uptick in music from the Beastie Boys appearing in cinema and television? If so, you’re not alone. Their gritty, genre-bending sound has made its way around visual media for over thirty years, including some high-profile appearances within the last several years alone.

Alternative Rap Legends

Back in 1986, the Beastie Boys burst into the limelight of American music. Rapping to the beat of their own mics, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz, Adam “MCA” Yauch, and Michael “Mike D” Diamond emerged from an experimental hardcore punk band called The Young Aborigines to take the rap scene by storm. But the world of rap wasn’t big enough to contain these three young punks, who to so many manifested youthful rebellion and freedom of expression.

the beastie boys 2

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the trio embodied the notion that anyone could perform (or do) anything, as they rapped among the best of ‘em for well over two decades. Over the course of a loudly prolific career, the Beastie Boys have sold 20 million records in the United States and had seven platinum-selling albums from 1986 to 2004. They are among the biggest-selling rap groups of all time. And in 2012, The Beastie Boys became the third rap group to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The music of the Beastie Boys has made its fair share of appearances in cinema and television in recent years. Let’s look at their biggest splashes in Disney and Universal media.

No Sleep Till Brooklyn (1986 – Licensed to Ill)

New York City is the epicenter of the U.S. population, culture, and media. New York also happens to be the home of The Beastie Boys. So it is no surprise that many of the group’s songs center around their hometown.  Four of the Beastie Boys’ most notable film soundtrack contributions come courtesy of one of their more epic singles – the 1986 hit “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” from their debut album Licensed to Ill.

The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

the secret life of pets
Image: Illumination/Universal

Two films under the Universal umbrella prominently feature “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” in their soundtracks.  Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets is a sweet, yet raucous film about what our pets do while we are away. In the film, Max – a Jack Russell Terrier, and Snowball – a fluffy white rabbit, drive a bus over the Brooklyn bridge to the iconic Beastie Boys tune.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)

the super mario bros. movie
Image: Universal

The recent billion-dollar smash hit The Super Mario Bros. Movie follows our favorite plumbers Mario and Luigi on their trip to Mushroom Kingdom to help Princess Peach take on the evil Koopa king Bowser. However, before their journey through the pipe, the superstar plumbers spend some time grinding out a living in the big city. Viewers can hear jam to the Beastie Boys when Mario and Luigi score their first customer and hurry to take on their first official job.

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

spider man flash
Image: Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios

“No Sleep Till Brooklyn” has found its way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) a couple times. The first of these wasn’t actually performed by the Beastie Boys. This solo a cappella version was sung by none other than Flash Thompson – high school friend of Peter Parker, MJ, and Ned – in the 2021 film Spider-Man: No Way Home. Flash – a minor character in the MCU version of the Spider-Man films – belted out the tune in a café where he worked, celebrating his acceptance into the prestigious MIT.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)

guardians of the galaxy vol. 3 groot and rocket
Image: Disney

The Guardians of the Galaxy are always down for playing a sweet selection of tunes during their adventures. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, when the truly hateable High Evolutionary orders his troops to locate and kill Rocket, our favorite raccoon boldly declares “I’m done runnin’.” And so begins one of the best fight scenes in all of the MCU – the epic Guardians “hallway scene,” set to none other than “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.”

(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!) (1986 – Licensed to Ill)

the simpsons homer
Image: Fox/Disney

The Beastie Boys have created dozens of chart-topping hits, but their other “best” song – another debut album hit “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” – surprisingly only made it into one Disney/Universal production. Season 16 of The Simpsons partied to this song in Episode 20 – titled “Home Away from Homer” – courtesy of their new neighbor “Coach” Clay Roberts.

Intergalactic (1998 – Hello Nasty)

Let’s hang in space for two of these three renditions of “Intergalactic.”

The Marvels

the marvels
Image: Disney

If you followed the MCU to any degree in 2023, then you no doubt heard the 1998 space anthem “Intergalactic” in trailers for The Marvels. The song fits the space-dwelling film perfectly, and served well to whet the appetites of MCU fans in the same way Guardians of the Galaxy does with music in their film soundtracks. Unfortunately, not enough fans took the bait, and the film has gone on (thus far) to be the lowest-earning film in the MCU catalog. As for the song in the film itself, it plays aboard Captain Marvel’s ship when the three newly joined heroes – Captain Marvel, Miss Marvel, and Monica Rambeau – commit via a humorous montage to sort out their power-swapping quandary.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010)

diary of a wimpy kid rowley
Image: Fox/Disney

When we think Beastie Boys, we don’t usually visualize young kids and their parents jammin’ out together. But that’s exactly what we saw in the 2010 Fox film Diary of a Wimpy Kid. In one the funniest and most endearing scenes of the film, Rowley Jefferson – a boy of no more than twelve – rocks the gymnasium with his mom at a school dance to the tune of “Intergalactic.” This kid took every middle schooler’s worst nightmare and owned it with pride. Well done sir!


Image: Fox/Disney

Without a doubt, the wildest rendition of “Intergalactic” has to be the version performed 1,000 years in the future, courtesy of Futurama. In Season 1, Episode 9 of the Fox series, the disembodied heads of the three Beastie Boys perform live, courtesy of their silent host performer bodies. But they proved they still got it! To coin the chain smoking robot Bender, “I believe that qualifies as ‘Ill’ from a technical standpoint.”

Sabotage (1994 – Ill Communication)

“I’m tellin’ y’all, it’s a sabotage!”

Minions: The Rise of Gru (2020)

minions rise of gru
Image: Illumination/Universal

One of the Beastie Boys’ edgier pieces came courtesy of their 1994 album Ill Communication. The album’s first single – “Sabotage” – set the stage with a trailer for the 2020 Illumination film Minions: The Rise of Gru. In fact, it set the stage on the biggest stage of the year, grabbing an advertising spot during Super Bowl LIV.

Family Guy

family guy
Image: Fox/Disney

“Sabotage” made its way under the Disney umbrella courtesy of the Fox series Family Guy. In Season 14, Episode 18 of the show, Peter Griffin teaches television anchorman Tom Tucker how to command his youth spirit via skateboarding skills. The pair then seamlessly ollie, flip, and handrail themselves to skateboarding success via Beastie musical montage…until Peter is mauled by a city-dwelling bear.

Sure Shot (1994 – Ill Communication)

Image: Dreamworks

Sticking with Ill Communication, “Sure Shot” was the next single off the album to find its way into cinema. Over the course of a wildly successful run, the Shrek franchise has ingeniously found ways to modernize the nursery rhyme heroes of old. In the 2010 film Shrek Forever After, the Pied Piper makes an unassuming visit to the villain Rumpelstiltskin. He was initially mocked by Rumpel’s court thugs, but he quickly gained respect following a rousing rendition of “Sure Shot,” during which he demonstrated control of all through his controlling tune. “Looks like it’s time to pay the piper.” 

Groove Holmes (1992 – Check Your Head)

iron man 2 tony stark eating a donut while sitting in a donut
Image: Disney

The last entry on my list goes back to the earlier days of the MCU. Let’s visit Tony Stark during his “unglory” days of the 2010 film Iron Man 2. A lesser-known Beastie Boys jam – an instrumental cut called “Groove Holmes” – takes us to Tony as he enjoys a donut…while sitting in a donut. Enter Nick Fury – “Sir, I’m gonna have to ask you to exit the donut.”

You’ve heard the Beastie Boys all over film and television, and know you know exactly where they play in the Disney and Universal catalogs. What’s your favorite Beastie moment in film or television? Join the conversation with a comment on social at: Instagram Facebook X (formerly Twitter)

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