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Marvel Loves New York City Just As Much As We Do!

Everyone knows that the MCU has created an expansive and impressive universe. They have explored a seemingly never-ending array of locations, from real-world places to outer space adventures that go beyond our wildest dreams. Since 2008 Marvel Studios has never shied away from their love of real-world locations, but one has stood out above the rest. New York City is the prime location for a lot of franchises, not just Marvel. But just how many times has NYC been featured in Marvel projects? From origin stories to ultimate battles, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is always willing to show off its NYC pride.

The first appearance of NYC from Marvel Studios is so iconic it makes sense that it was the first. In Captain America: The First Avenger, released in 2011, our hometown hero is shown to have grown up in 1940s Brooklyn. Every detail is attended to, from the vehicles to the buildings, even to the fashion! Everything looks like it was ripped from a picture taken in 1940s NYC.

When talking about Captain America, of course, I have to mention the memorable scene at the end of the movie when Cap wakes up from his 70-year slumber and finds himself in the middle of Times Square. The awe he experiences is a feeling tourists and first-time visitors are sure to feel familiar with. Next, we have to discuss the movie about everyone's favorite playboy turned superhero; Iron Man, and subsequently Iron Man 2. In Iron Man, released in 2008, it is revealed that the billionaire genius Tony Stark was born in Manhattan, and in Iron Man 2, released in 2010, Stark Expo (the Expo created by Tony’s father to present new ideas and bring creative minds together) was set in Flushing Meadows. It’s also made clear throughout the entire MCU that Tony's home, Stark Towers, is in New York City. Seems like even though they had a war between them, Cap and Tony can agree on the magic of NYC.

After discussing Iron Man it’s no surprise that Spiderman comes to mind. Spiderman is arguably the most iconic NYC superhero so of course the films focused on him feature the multifaceted beauty of New York. Peter Parker is from the great borough of Queens and his movies do not shy away from including shots of the city, especially the newer movies about Tom Holland's Spider-Man. In Spider-Man: Homecoming a shot of Grand Central Station opens the movie, and Peter Parker goes to school at the (fictional) Midtown School of Science and Technology. Even Spider-Man: Far From Home features the city, featuring some shots reminiscent of its predecessor. But Spider-Man: No Way Home truly takes the cake, when Peter Parker's face is displayed on billboards in Times Square.

Even if we throw it back to the very first live-action, the appreciation for NYC is abundant. In Spider-Man in Toby McGuire in Spider-Man when he works at New York's very own Joe's Pizza! If there were ever any questions about Marvel-loving New York, Peter Parker has your answers.

Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse is a movie that is hailed as one of the best-animated films of all time and is my favorite movie that represents the Marvelized versions of NYC. The Oscar-winning animated adventure is set in New York, and though most of the locations are fabricated there is an obvious inspiration from the real NYC. The stunning sweeping shots of the skyline, or even just scenes where Miles Morales is going through his daily life, every aspect of New York is represented. Even though the film is technically owned by Sony, Miles Morales will always be the Marvel hero of our dreams.

Jump almost exactly 10 years before Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse was released in 2008 Marvel fans were presented with The Incredible Hulk, which was just a hint as to what the character of Bruce Banner would become in later films. The Hulk and his partner in the film Betty travel to Empire State University in NYC where Bruce Banner (who was not yet played by Mark Ruffalo) tries to find the antidote for his superhuman condition. While the movie isn’t the most popular Marvel movie and has been subject to a lot of criticism, its representation of New York City proves that Marvel has always loved the city, even when they were first starting.

Something new that Marvel has been doing is producing Disney+ original series about different Marvel fan favorites, and even new characters. What’s not new, is their appreciation for the city that started everything for them. A show that has a huge appreciation of NYC is Hawkeye. With all 6 episodes being set in NYC, and all 6 featuring iconic locations from the city.

The most notable New York City appearances are in the first and sixth episodes of the show. In the season premiere “Never Meet Your Heroes” the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre is displayed in all its glory when Hawkeye himself goes to see a Broadway show titled “Rogers: The Musical”. Then in the season finale “So This is Christmas?” The titular battle that the show had been working towards all season takes place in the very festively decorated Rockefeller Center.

Hawkeye isn’t the only Marvel series that features New York City. Their series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which premiered just a few months before Hawkeye did, has a less intense love for New York, with only two episodes of the six, showcasing the city. The last two episodes of the series each show a beautifully shot sweeping showcase of the New York City skyline, that in my opinion, makes up for the lack of NYC in the first four episodes. Even Ms. Marvel, a series that starts its first episode in Jersey City, showcases NYC in fabulous ways. Even the promotional art features the city skyline. Moving on to a stranger hero (get it, like Doctor Strange?) both Doctor Strange and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness feature New York City.

Doctor Strange started as a regular man in NYC and then became the Doctor he is now when he stumbled upon the Sanctum which is located in New York. With such an important landmark of his character being set in the city, it's no surprise that his movies spend quite a lot of time there as well. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as well as Doctor Strange feature some wonderfully trippy visuals of the city Marvel loves so much, while also showcasing the wonderfully mundane aspects of the city.

After discussing all of these famous Marvel heroes it only feels right to end with the heroes that truly began it all, The Avengers. Being the first of many major crossovers in the MCU it makes sense that so much of the movie takes place in the city where it all began. In The Avengers Manhattan is the main location of almost the entire movie, with Stark Towers being where The Avengers meet up, and Manhattan being the object of every bad guy's path of destruction, the borough is well represented. NYC is even featured in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Even though the main plot of the movie, as well as the iconic battle with Ultron himself, take place in Novi Grad, Sokovia, New York City is still featured at the end of the movie when the Avengers new base is revealed. New York City also starts the movie, showcased in Stark Towers where Ultron was created. Finally, in Infinity War, NYC is given the ultimate appreciation. Avengers: Infinity War is one of the biggest crossover events in the entire MCU, displaying every hero from Doctor Strange to Nick Fury, and even The Guardians of the Galaxy. The film displays an almost impossible amount of locations but still manages to feature New York City multiple times throughout multiple scenes in the movie.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has never shied away from its passionate love for New York City. With so many of the characters and stories being placed right in the heart of it all, fans and casual viewers alike can agree that Marvel has shaped their view of the beautiful city of New York.

Written by Lucy Anderson

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