This morning, Marvel Studios dropped the first teaser trailer for November’s “Thor: Ragnarok,” the third film in the saga of the Norse God of Thunder. Fans immediately took to social media to praise the vibrant colors and high-octane action depicted in the trailer; some even dubbed the forthcoming film “Asgardians of the Galaxy,” due to the crazy visuals, cosmic storyline, comedic storytelling, and the classic rock soundtrack.
Underlying and underscoring the hyper-kinetic trailer is the iconic Led Zeppelin track “Immigrant Song,” the opener from the band’s third album. The thundering Jimmy Page guitar riff, and the banshee wail of golden-maned lead singer Robert Plant — who still looks like he belongs in the court of Odin — swell as Hela, the Norse goddess of Death, catches Mjolnir in mid flight and crushes Thor’s weapon into powder.
In the best use of a classic rock song in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since John Favreau used Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” in Tony Stark’s first outing, Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” matches the “Thor: Ragnarok” trailer in theme and in tone.
Sung from the perspective of a band of marauding Vikings rowing west in search of new conquests, “Immigrant Song” features lyrics that perfectly capture the vibe of the Thor mythos. “The Hammer of the gods, will drive our ship to new lands,” belts out Plant, “To fight the horde, singing and crying, Valhalla, I am coming!”
“Although the song is steeped in Norse mythology, its origin is more prosaic.” Plant told music journalist, Chris Welch, “We weren’t being pompous … We did come from the land of the ice and snow. We were guests of the Icelandic Government on a cultural mission. We were invited to play a concert in Reykjavik and the day before we arrived all the civil servants went on strike and the gig was going to be cancelled. The university prepared a concert hall for us and it was phenomenal.”
“’Immigrant Song’ was about that trip and it was the opening track on the album that was intended to be incredibly different,” he added. But it wasn’t the only time that Led Zeppelin lyrics delved into the mythic and mystical. The songs “Ramble On,” “Battle of Evermore,” and “Misty Mountain Hop” all referenced J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Although it is not clear whether the song will feature in the final cut of “Thor: Ragnarok” — IMDb only lists composer Mark Mothersbaugh as having scored the film — it is not the first time the song has been used in a cinematic setting. To get the rights to use the track in his 2003 comedy “School of Rock,” Jack Black recorded himself singing “Immigrant Song” in front of an audience, and then begging Led Zeppelin for permission to include it in the film. “The moral of this story is, Don’t be too proud to beg. If it’s something you really need, you might have to get on your knees with a thousand people behind you screaming,” he said in the DVD’s extra features.
When it comes to licensing songs for cinematic use, Led Zeppelin was a relative latecomer, first allowing the use of their music in Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous.” Crowe — who had a previous relationship with the band, having toured with them in 1975 while writing for Rolling Stone magazine — was granted permission to use “That’s the Way,” “The Rain Song,” “Bron-Y-Aur” and “Tangerine,” but was refused the use of the band’s biggest song, “Stairway to Heaven,” in a pivotal scene that appears, without music, as a DVD extra.
Directed by Taika Waititi, “Thor: Ragnarok” stars Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, and Mark Ruffalo. It’s scheduled for release on November 3.