MCU: Location Scout – Battle of New York part 1

by Jovial Jay

As the culmination for Phase I of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Battle of New York, as presented in The Avengers is an amazing spectacle put to film. Not only does have some amazing action, but it combines footage from multiple locations seamlessly to create the city that never sleeps.

LOCATION: The Battle of New York (See Below)
SHOW: The Avengers (2012)

While some portions of the film were shot in New York City, the majority of scenes for the Battle of New York were shot in Cleveland or on a soundstage in New Mexico. Clever sets, and CGI magic allowed it to appear that the Avengers were actually filming on the Park Ave Viaduct, while editing and set decoration made Cleveland appear to be the avenues of New York.

This first of two posts will explore the battle as it unfolds, depicting the action as it switches from place to place. It will be concluded next week.

“And there came a day unlike any other, when earth’s mightiest heroes were united against a common threat! On that day the Avengers were born!”

Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York1) Loki opens the Portal above Stark Tower, which is located at 200 Park Ave, replacing the MetLife Building, and just behind Grand Central Terminal. The first wave of Chitauri descend and are fought off by Iron Man. They continue to stream out, blasting over the Viaduct and out over Park Ave. Hundreds of digital photographs were taken of the city surrounding Grand Central Terminal and used to create a virtual environment for the characters to fly through, or as background plates for the soundstage footage.

Battle of New York Battle of New York2) Patrons and workers at the Pershing Square Cafe take shelter inside the restaurant. According to Cinefex #130, a weekend of filming in New York at the end of the production schedule allowed for some authentic scenes in town. At least one of those scenes is the end of the film, in Central Park. This could be another sequence.

Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York3) People run from the attack along Park Ave, as taxis explode. The police show up at the corner of Madison and E. 42nd St. A cop hops out of his car and watches the destruction unfold above him. These scenes, like many others showing destruction, debris and panicked people, were shot in Cleveland on East 9th Street, between Euclid and Prospect Ave. The shot of the people running takes place around 2000 E 9th St looking southeast towards Prospect, while the cops arrive in the intersection of Euclid Ave & E 9th St.

Battle of New York4) The Quinjet with Captain America, Black Widow & Hawkeye flies up Park Ave, while Iron Man leads the Chitauri in a circle around Stark tower, counter-clockwise, putting them directly over Grand Central Terminal for Hawkeye to blast. The CGI cityscape that was designed for the film replicates New York for blocks in every direction from Grand Central.

Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York5) The Quinjet continues in and around Stark Tower, also counter-clockwise, watching Loki and Thor fight. It fires on Loki, who blasts one of the engines causing it spin out of control. It flies just behind 90 Park Ave, turns left over E. 39th St, clipping the building at 78 Park Ave, before making a final left turn up Park Ave and crashing into the plaza at 101 Park Ave. A portion of the quinjet, which included the landing ramp, and lots of debris was setup in the plaza of 101 Park Ave, which had the actors filming onsite.

Battle of New York Battle of New York6) The trio of heroes exit the wreckage and head up the viaduct ramp towards Grand Central Terminal. The wreckage and subsequent footage of the actors was actually filmed in front of 101 Park Ave.

Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York7) Leviathan #1 exits the portal, knocking the head off the statue at Grand Central Terminal, and heads down Park Ave, as Chitauri pop-off onto the buildings. Stark follows the Leviathan  showing it has turned North and is heading up 5th Ave. It takes off the top of a building at what appears to be between E. 38th and E. 37th Streets. Many shots of characters moving through the canyons of New York are made from the digital collection of imagery, and may not represent the real-life architecture and placement of buildings.

Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York8) After a battle with Thor on top of Stark Tower, Loki rolls off the side and hops on a Chitauri speeder heading West over the top of Grand Central Terminal. He flies down E. 44th or E.45th Street, past 551 5th Ave, and turns left onto an unidentified street. Digital doubles of the actors and stunt performers were employed for some shots, especially on the Chitauri speeders.

Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York9) Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye watch from the Viaduct as Chitauri fly east to west on E. 42nd St. blowing up more cars as civilians escape from a building under attack. The Chitauri lay down a spectacular assault led by Loki, right up the street, blowing up everything from taxis to police cars. Special effects placed the Chitauri into E. 42nd St, but the civilians escaping the building and subsequent explosions were shot on East 9th St. in Cleveland. A shot of a Dr Pepper truck appears to be in front of 2000 E. 9th with the shot being reversed left to right (which can see by the lack of steering wheel in the cab). The civilians running from the building were shot in front of 2079 E. 9th at the corner of Prospect. The carnage of destruction was shot looking down East 9th towards Prospect from Euclid. Backgrounds were replaced with actual imagery of New York City.

Battle of New York10) Captain America sees the destruction on E. 42nd and leaps over the railing to help, while Black Widow & Hawkeye remain on the Viaduct fighting off Chitauri and helping civilians from a crashed city bus. While the shots on the viaduct were filmed on a soundstage, it is unclear if the following shots of Captain America on the bus roof were actually filmed on 42nd Street.

Battle of New York Battle of New York11) A group of police officers fire on the speeders overhead, when Captain America shows up giving orders. Cap is fighting just outside the Capital One bank (which would be located at Madison and E 42nd). This action was all filmed at the Euclid end of East 9th St. The bank is seen later when Cap returns to help some civilians trapped there. The wording “Capital One” on the bank is digitally inserted.

Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York 12) Stark turns right at the corner of E. 32nd and Park, and flies at Leviathan #1, blasting it, and causing it to turn into the building at 3 Park Ave (between E. 34th and E. 33rd). Debris rains down on a hot dog cart in front of the Midtown Financial Center. Stark manages to get the creatures attention and he heads West on E 41st St towards the New York Public Library. While all the flying scenes are digitally created, the hot dog cart was filmed at 1749 East 9th in Cleveland across from Walnut Street.

Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York Battle of New York13) Hawkeye and Black Widow continue fighting in the Viaduct as Captain America jumps back up to join them, when Thor flies in, lightning blazing, to join them. Banner rides up on a motorcycle and engages his alter ego, The Hulk, as Iron Man leads Leviathan #1 up Park Ave directly towards Grand Central Terminal. They drop the first Leviathan on the West side of the Viaduct, and then strike a pose!

Tune in next week as we complete the battle and see if the Avengers can stop the alien menace!

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Behind every scene in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a location. Some are iconic. Some are functional. Some are completely fantastic. But all of them are there to support the story.

Here at the MCU: Location Scout, Jovial Jay digs deep to uncover the real-world filming locations behind your favorite super hero films. From Iron Man to Inhumans and everything in between!

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