New York Film Locations

Superheroes of New York City

On the set of New takes an in depth look at the superheroes that were born and grew up in New York City. Following the creation of the America comic books with characters such as Peter Parker, alias the Amazing Spider-Man, who was born and grew up in the borough of Queens, New York. Steve Rogers who is better known as Captain America was born on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, gave way to the Hollywood filmmakers and the film franchises such as Superman, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four.

In the early days of the comic books, the creators would associate characters with specific New York neighbourhoods. Peter Parker grew up in the residential area of Forest Hills in Queens. Matt Murdock, better known as Daredevil, was raised in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen. As the years passed by, the creators attempted to move some of the Super Heroes out of New York, with Iron Man setting up a shop in California and Daredevil living in San Francisco. But the creators soon realised that the foremost superheroes had proved to be inseparable from the state of New York and Director Sam Raimi realised the importance by shooting the Spider-Man films on location including Peter Parker’s home in Queens and using the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

The locations within the comics vary from real sites such as the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden and Central Park to fictional places apparently located in the city, such as the Fantastic Four Building. Whereas the Hollywood films use physical locations combined with CGI special effects and it will come as no surprise to find out that Spider-Man did not swing from skyscraper to skyscraper on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue, but instead with the help of computer-wizardly, and that the Fantastic Four did not save the Brooklyn Bridge from certain destruction and were in fact never actually filming on the bridge or even in New York City. As with so many of the superhero films, blue screen technology plays a large part in the post production and make it possible for Superman to fly across the city, for Spider-Man to swing from building to building and for the Silver Surfer to fly through the Chrysler Building.

New York’s City Hall which was built 1812 and located at the centre of City Hall Park in the Civic Center section of Lower Manhattan between Broadway, Park Row and Chambers Street and was the place that Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson were married in the comic books. In the film Spider-Man 2, after Spider-Man rescues aunt May from Doctor Octopus, he leaves her near City Hall.

In 1984, the Ghostbusters, a trio of misfit parapsychologists and superheroes in their own right; Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, and Egon Spengler were taken to City Hall to explain the paranormal activity that was taking over the city. The Mayor granted them freedom to combat the Gozer and the Marshmallow Man.

In 2001, the first Spider-Man film starring Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man / Peter Parker), Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane Watson) and Willem Dafoe (Green Goblin / Norman Osborn) was in post production when the terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center occurred, which resulted in the teaser trailer being removed from the official Spider-Man website.

The 2 minute trailer which is still available to view on showed a helicopter carrying armed robbers hanging between the World Trade Center towers in a large spiders web.

In the same year, the comic creators released an issue of the Amazing Spider-Man with a completely black cover, in which a group of superheroes visit Ground Zero and help to clear the area.

For information about issue Vol.2 #36 (2001) Amazing Spider-Man see the official Marvel website.

On the Lower East Side of Manhattan at number 187 Chrystie Street between Stanton Street and Rivington Street is Peter Parker’s shabby apartment building. Featured in films Spider-Man 2 and 3, the apartment building was only used for exterior shots.

Click HERE to take a closer look at Peter Parker's apartment.

In the film, Spider-Man 2, the Anthology Film Archives building at number 32 on 2nd Avenue and East 2nd Street is used as Dr. Otto Octavius’s laboratory, where he demonstrates his fusion reactor to the world’s media.

In the film, Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker has a job delivering pizzas for Joe's Pizza on Bleecker Street in the West Village. Unable to deliver the pizza orders on time, due to Spider-Man duties, the shop's owner gives Peter his marching orders.

In reality, Peter would have lost his job, even if he had made the deliveries on time as the shop closed in 2004, shortly after the films cinema release.

In the film, Spider-Man 2, wannabe actress Mary Jane Watson works at the Moondance Diner in the SoHo neighbourhood of New York City located on 6th Avenue at Grand Street. It was known for its revolving moon sign, an addition made to the original structure in the mid-1980s. The diner opened in the 1930s, when it was named the Holland Tunnel Diner. It could seat about 34 people, with six tables and ten counter stools. Like most diners of its vintage, it was built elsewhere, and transported to its final site. The entire structure was roughly thirty-six by sixteen feet. In 2007, it was announced that due to rising rent, the diner would be closing, and a demolition date of August 1 was set. Preservationists and the neighbourhood's residents organised benefits for the diner, but were not able to delay the inevitable.

The Flatiron Building is famous for its extraordinary triangular shape. The building was designed by architect Daniel Burnham in 1902.

In the Spider-Man films, the Flatiron Building is home to the Daily Bugle, the tabloid newspaper and resides in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. But in the comic books, the Daily Bugle is located at East 39th Street and 2nd Avenue in the Murray Hill neighbourhood.

Peter Parker and reporter Eddie Brock from the film, Spider-Man 3 both worked at the newspaper, although in the comics, Eddie Brock was a news reporter for the Globe.

The Baxter Building is most closely identified with superheroes in the comic books as it is the home and headquarters for the Fantastic Four team.

The fictional building is located on East 42nd Street between Grand Central Terminal and the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue. When the team moved from California to New York City, they bought the top five floors of the building. The Baxter Building was computer generated for the Fantastic Four films.

Starring as the Fantastic Four characters were Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards, Jessica Alba as Sue Storm, Chris Evans as Johnny Storm and Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm.

Movie: Fantastic Four (2005)

Movie: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

The Chrysler Building which is located at 405 Lexington Avenue at East 42nd Street is the second tallest skyscraper in New York City until the completion of new Freedom Tower in lower Manhattan. Prior to the Empire State Building’s completion in 1931, the Chrysler Building was the tallest building in the world. In the film Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the Human Torch chases the Silver Surfer across the Manhattan skyline to the Chrysler Building.

The Empire State Building is the most recognised skyscraper in New York City. It was completed in 1931 and was the first building in the world with 100 floors. In total, the building has 102 floors which reach to 1,250 feet (381 m). The Empire State Building first became famous for its appearance in the original King Kong film, which premiered two years after the opening of the building.

Movie: King Kong (1933)
Movie: King Kong (1976)
Movie: King Kong (2005)

In the world of the comic books, the terrorist organisation Black Spectre attacked the Empire State Building in an effort to halt radio and television broadcasting, but was tackled by Daredevil and the Black Widow. During a battle between the X-Factor team and their arch rival Apocalypse aboard the Super Villain’s flying headquarters, the ship crashes into the Empire State Building, causing the building’s antenna to fall off. A similar incident happened in the 1980 film Superman 2, when the evil villains attacked the Empire State Building antenna, causing it to freefall towards the Avenue below. On this occasion, the Man of Steel was able to save it from total destruction.

The New York Public Library is located on 5th Avenue between West 40th Street and 41st Street and is where the Ghostbusters are first called to, having received a telephone call from the library’s manager after a librarian witnesses a ghost in the basement, but without any means to capture the phantom, the three scientists flee from the library. On the opposite side of 5th Avenue was where Peter Parker’s uncle Ben was killed in the first Spider-Man film.

Central Park is a public park in the centre of Manhattan in New York City. The park initially opened in 1857, on 843 acres of city-owned land. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they entitled the Greensward Plan. Construction began the same year and was completed in 1873.

In the film, Spider-Man 3, Mary Jane Watson having been threatened by Harry Osborn breaks off her relationship with Peter Parker on the Bow Bridge in mid-park.

Tudor City is located between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue at 40th Street and is where industrialist Norman Osborn lived in the first Spider-Man film. Norman’s Son, Harry takes over the apartment in Spider-Man 2. Although Tudor City was used as the location, it was only used for exterior shots. All of the interior shots for the apartment were done in the Greystone Mansion at 905 Loma Vista Drive in Beverly Hills, California.

The Rockefeller Center is the world’s largest commercial building and is spread over 22 acres in midtown Manhattan. The most prominent building in the Center is the GE Building, which towers 70 floors over Rockefeller Plaza.

After saving Mary Jane Watson in the first Spider-Man film, the Spider-Man leaves her in the rooftop garden at the top the Rockefeller Center complex.

Times Square is often considered as the busiest place in New York City. It is the venue where thousands of people gather on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the start of a new year. In the first Spider-Man film, when the Green Goblin attacks the World Unity festival which is held in Times Square, Spider-Man battles against him. This sequence was actually filmed in a mock-up of Times Square constructed in California. Whereas Spider-Man 3 features the real Times Square with Peter Parker walking through it and Mary Jane Watson appearing in a Broadway musical at the Broadhurst Theatre on West 44th Street.

Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America ran through Times Square in the 2011 feature film, Captain America: The First Avenger.

Columbia University is located at 116th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, and was featured in the very first Spider-Man film. Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson were on a high school trip to the university's genetic research laboratory, and it was there that Peter was bitten by a genetically altered spider, transferring the superpowers and creating the Spider-Man.

Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution. Today the University operates four global centers overseas in Amman, Jordan; Beijing, China; Paris, France; and Mumbai, India. The University is also featured in Spider-Man 2 and is where Peter was on a scholarship.

Riverside Church is located on the borders of Morningside Heights and Harlem and takes up two blocks from West 120th to West 122nd Street.

The church was used in Spider-Man 2 for the wedding of John Jameson and Mary Jane Watson, and it was there that MJ had a change of mind and ran from the church to Peter Parker’s apartment to confess her love for him. As Peter Parker’s apartment was in fact based on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, it would have taken her at least an hour to have made the journey on foot.

The 59th Street Bridge or as it is also known, the Queensboro Bridge, is a cantilever bridge over the East River in New York City that was completed in 1909. It connects the neighbourhood of Long Island City in the borough of Queens with Manhattan, passing over Roosevelt Island. It carries New York State Route 25 and once carried NY 24 and NY 25A as well. The Bridge is the westernmost of the four East River spans that carry a route number: NY 25 terminates at the west (Manhattan) side of the bridge. It is commonly called the "59th Street Bridge" because its Manhattan end is located between 59th Street and 60th Streets.

In the first Spider-Man film, Mary Jane Watson finds herself stuck at the top of the 59th Street Bridge, having been put there by the evil Green Goblin. When Spider-Man arrives, the Green Goblin who has also captured a Roosevelt Island tram, forces Spider-Man to choose between the two.

The Brooklyn Bridge is the most famous bridge in the New York state and was opened to the public in 1883. The bridge was featured in the first Fantastic Four film in 2005, when Ben accidentally causes a traffic pile-up while stopping a man from committing suicide. The four use their various powers to contain the damage and prevent anyone from being hurt.

The media dubs them "The Fantastic Four" for their efforts. The filmmakers opted not to use the actual real bridge and instead constructed a scaled down version and surrounding it with blue-screens, so that the digital wizards could add the New York skyline in post production.

The Statue of Liberty which resides on Liberty Island has been featured in several superhero films. In 1980, Superman came to its rescue in the film, Superman 2. Nine years later and the Ghostbusters use positively-charged mood slime from their slime blowers and a remix of "Higher and Higher" to animate the Statue of Liberty and pilot it through the streets of New York, using its torch to break through the museum's ceiling to attack Vigo and Janosz. Finally, in 2000, the first X-Men film, the mutant Magneto is installed at the top of the Statue and the X-Men rush to the scene to destroy it and save Rogue.

Park Avenue was the battle zone for Tony Stark a.k.a. the Iron Man; Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America; Bruce Banner a.k.a. The Hulk; Thor; Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow; and Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye in the 2012 film, The Avengers.

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