Led Zeppelin played a major part in the upcoming movie Thor: Ragnarok. Not only is the band’s 1970 single, “Immigrant Song,” prominently featured in the trailer for the latest Marvel superhero movie, but it is also used as a Viking anthem in the Chris Hemsworth-led film itself after it paved the way for director Taika Waititi’s original pitch to Marvel executives.
In a new interview with Den of Geek, Waititi revealed that early on he created a demo reel for Marvel because they had no ideas for the plot for the upcoming installment of the Thor franchise. The director said he included shots from other movies that he felt could set the tone for the Thor sequel and set it to the thundering song from Led Zeppelin’s third studio album, Led Zeppelin III.
“I did that, and I put ‘Immigrant Song’ over the top of it, and then played it for them,” Waititi said. “And they were like, ‘Oh that’s really cool. That’s a cool song. What’s that?’ I was like, [deadpan] ‘It’s “Immigrant Song,” Led Zeppelin, one of the most famous songs of all time.’ They were like, ‘Oh cool, never heard it before, very cool.’”
Waititi went on to say that he was initially worried that execs didn’t know the song, but that he planned to use it from the beginning because it makes “perfect sense” for the lead character.
“And I was like, “Oh f***, really worried now,’” the Thor: Ragnarok director said of the initial reaction to the song. “And then, yeah, when I got the job. But from the start we’d always talked about using ‘Immigrant Song,’ in the film, because it just makes perfect sense for that character, doesn’t it?”
During a recent press junket for Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige talked about Waititi’s pitch to use Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” in the movie.
“Filmmakers sometimes will say, using clips of other movies, ‘Here’s what I have in mind.’” Feige said, according to Screenrant. “And sometimes they’re not good. Most of the times, they’re okay. His was amazing and was scored to that Led Zeppelin song. So from the beginning, that song kind of defined what Taika was going to do with this. That it’s in the trailer, that it’s in the film, all from that first meeting, and from one of his first instincts of this movie, is very impressive.”
Led Zeppelin rarely allows their music to be licensed for movies, but “Immigrant Song” is reportedly used in five fight sequences in Thor: Ragnarok. In another rare exception, the song was also used briefly in the 2003 Jack Black movie School of Rock after Black personally begged the band to let him use the song after director Art Linklater failed to get permission, according to the Telegraph.
In an interview with Collider, Taika Waititi said he was surprised “Immigrant Song” wasn’t used in an action movie before, adding that as far as he is concerned, the Led Zeppelin classic “is about Thor.”
“It is one of the perfect songs,” he said.
After “Immigrant Song” was included in the Thor: Ragnarok trailer earlier this year, legions of new fans began downloading the song. The surge in downloads skyrocketed the nearly 50-year-old song to No. 16 on the Billboard “Hot Rock Songs” chart.
Check out Led Zeppelin performing “Immigrant Song” live below.
Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters Friday, Nov. 3.
[Featured Image by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images for Disney]