Why do so many people (cough!) visit Classic Metal Hawk’s blog and devour all the excellent Classic Heavy Metal articles on offer? Hopefully to reminisce (Nostalgia – Yay) and stay tuned into all of our favourite bands and songs – after all, The Hawk started this blog because he wants to make space for some great music in all of our lives.
And so it’s fabulous that sometimes we can all stumble across Classic Heavy Metal in other, maybe more unexpected places. The Hawk says we should celebrate those sorts of opportunities, and came across one himself not too long ago during a trip to the movies. Let’s look at that example here.
Always Wait for the End Credits!
So what other art forms might we be a go to source for a bit of extra heavy metal? Well first of all, we’re talking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s right. The MCU has been a guilty pleasure for The Hawk for a while now, so when Classic Heavy Metal started to appear in some of the movies, we’re talking win-win.
For example, in the 2002 MCU release ‘Thor: Love and Thunder‘, The Hawk was thrilled to hear none other than Ronnie James Dio being resurrected during the end credits. Now, obviously we all know to sit through the end credits for Marvel flicks so as not to miss the teasers for next time, right? But let’s face it, that can be a bit of a drag, waiting ages for the good bits to finally appear. The time flew by in this case however, by the addition of that all time classic to the movie soundtrack – Dio’s ‘Rainbow in the Dark’.
Like a Rainbow in The Dark
“Rainbow in the Dark” goes all the way back to 1983, and was one of the singles from Dio’s debut album as a solo artist, ‘Holy Diver’. That solo career came hot on the heels of stints with Rainbow and Black Sabbath, with whom he contributed to produced 5 studio albums in total during his tenure.
Now, as well as being a great first solo single for Dio, ‘Rainbow in the Dark’ also features one of the all-time great classic heavy metal music videos. It features alternating scenes: first, some pervy accountant-type dude stalking a woman through a street lined with pornographic cinemas in London’s Soho district; that’s interspersed with Ronnie James Dio himself, singing from a rooftop, with views over the city skyline. In that first strand, it’s obvious our stalker doesn’t just want to shoot the breeze – he’s evil, and definitely has some form of wicked plan up his sleeve for our unsuspecting heroine, as he follows her into a gloomy theater.
But wait – just like in Marvel, there are superheroes on the scene to thwart him. First, Dio guitarist Vivian Campbell arrives, using the power of his virtuoso guitar solo to force the villain back onto the streets. Then, bassist Jimmy Bain joins in the fight back. They warn him off in no uncertain terms with their shapes, and the woman rewards their efforts with a grateful kiss on the cheek for Campbell.
Music Fit for Superheroes
Now, doesn’t that sound like a great superhero plot to you? No wonder the Thor producers chose it for their movie ending.
As far as Classic Metal Hawk is aware, the original comic book writers for Marvel never had Thor, or any other superhero, defeat an enemy using the power of a guitar solo. But they missed a trick, because Thor would definitely have been on board with that as a super-cool storyline.
The Hawk is going to go out on a limb here – superheroes in general, and superhero gods like Thor in particular are almost certainly Classic Heavy Metal fans. Think about it. Prior to going into battle with some demon from the nether regions, any hero worth their salt is going to want to get the adrenaline pumping, and what better way to do that than to crank out classic tracks like ‘Rainbow in the Dark’, at high volume?
Ronnie Dio claims to have had a more personal brush with Thor. It was during his stint with Rainbow, when the band were recording their album ‘Long Live Rock n Roll’. They’d decamped to Chateau d’Herouville, a spooky 18th century French castle near Pontoise (duly nicknamed ‘Pantyhose’ in the juvenile style of the day.) The chateau was equipped with a recording studio – and this story reminded The Hawk of that trip Black Sabbath made to a castle of their own to get creative, with similarly dramatic paranormal results.
Anyway, stuck in the Chateau, there wasn’t a great deal of entertainment to be had during any downtime from writing and recording, so band leader Ritchie Blackmore took to organizing regular séances, almost every night at one point. That’s right – he’d pull out the Ouija board, and make everyone sit around trying to make contact with the spirits of the dead.
And during one of those séances, they managed to conjure up none other than the spirit of Thor himself. (They knew it was him, because, upon asking for a sign to confirm his identity, a great storm rolled in over the chateau, with mighty thunder claps, fierce lightning and torrential rain. That’s proof enough for The Hawk – Thor is obviously a fan not only of Classic Heavy Metal, but of Dio’s work in particular.)
Rainbow were on a roll when it came to contacting deities, because In another session soon afterwards, they also managed to contact the pagan god Baal, who wreaked havoc in various ways. At that point, everyone figured they were pushing their luck, and packed away the Ouija board. If you’ve ever wondered why the resulting Rainbow album sleeve features the cryptic message, ‘No thanks to Baal’, wonder no longer. Get a load of Dio’s autobiography, also called ‘Rainbow in the Dark’ for more on that spooky tale.
And some Guns n Roses
Note also, please, that ‘Rainbow in the Dark’ is not an isolated heavy metal appearance in the MCU. The same movie also feature some classic Guns n Roses, with a trifecta of Sweet Child o’ Mine, November Rain AND Welcome to the Jungle
Plus, there’s some prior form, with ‘Thor – Ragnarok’ featuring Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ as our hero (wait for it…) prepares to go into his climactic battle. Not heavy metal according to The Hawk’s own rules, but still way cool.
Outside of the MCU, “Rainbow in the Dark” was also played when Thor stars Taika Waititi, Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson and Natalie Portman took the stage at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con – no doubt it made them feel just as heroic then as they look in the movie.
Ronnie Dio himself sadly died from stomach cancer in 2010, so didn’t live to see himself as an inspiration for Marvel’s Avengers. But The Hawk feels like he would have approved. More Classic Heavy Metal / superhero crossovers please!!
Are you as much into the Heavy Metal / Marvel hookup as The Hawk? What other great heavy metal songs are there in other movies? (There’s already been a mention of Slayer in Gremlins 2 on here.) What else can you think of?
Share your thoughts in the comments below, or send feedback direct to The Hawk.