Starting in the early 1930s in New York City, the comic book industry was born, originally collecting previously printed newspaper strips. Within a few years, the medium had already evolved, as original material was in demand. National Periodical Publications launched Detective Comics #1, in 1937, which was an immediate hit, but it was less than a year later when the company launched Action Comics #1, that the world was changed with the introduction of a new genre, the superhero. The issue featured the first appearance of Superman, and the success of the character directly led to the creation of the company’s second big hit in 1939’s Detective Comics #27; The Batman.
Batman’s connection with New York was instant, with his earliest adventures taking place in New York before reimagining the location as Gotham City.
It wasn’t until 1963 when the launch of Marvel Comics that Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko set their mythology in the center of New York.
Here, Spider-Man lived in Queens, The X-Men in Westchester County, and Daredevil in Hell’s Kitchen among many others. The heroes frequently crossed paths with a flyby, or simply a mention of other threats that occurred in other character’s books.
With the rise of the popularity of Comic Book Movies, it’s no surprise that New York plays home for many productions.
Here’s a look at some of New York’s most recognizable landmarks among the cinematic adventures of costumed crimefighters.
Directed by Sam Raimi, the original Spider-Man films were set firmly in New York. Among the landmarks depicted:
The Flatiron Building
The Flatiron Building, or Fuller Building as it was originally called, is located at 175 Fifth Avenue in the borough of Manhattan and is considered to be one of the first skyscrapers ever built. The building sits on a triangular island block at 23rd Street, Fifth Avenue, and Broadway, anchoring the downtown end of Madison Square. In the Spider-Man series, the Flatiron was used as the exterior to The Daily Bugle, a tabloid newspaper, and employer to Peter Parker.
The New York Public Library
In Raimi’s first film (and reshot from a different angle in Spider-Man 3), Peter Parker pretends to study at the library while going to compete in a wrestling match as Spider-Man. It’s also the location in the first film ( aka 5th Ave at 42nd where Parker’s beloved Uncle Ben is shot and killed while waiting for Peter outside, reminding him that, “with great power, there must also come, great responsibility.”
Located on the southern edge of Turtle Bay on the East Side of Manhattan in New York City, the first residential skyscraper complex in the world. It also played home to Norman and Harry Osborn, specifically the top floors of Windsor Tower at 5 Tudor City Place in Raimi’s trilogy.
Superman: The Movie & Superman II
Empire State Building
In Richard Lester’s 1980 film Superman 2, New York played Metropolis. In a large battle, the Phantom Zone villains attacked the Empire State Building (located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on Fifth Avenue between West 33rd and 34th Streets), pulling away it’s antenna and drops it, allowing it to freefall towards the street and crowd below. Fortunately, Superman was able to catch it before it hit the ground.
The fight continued into the streets of Time Square below where Superman was thrown through a cigarette truck and into the sewers beneath the street by the Phantom Zone criminals and where ultimately, he was able to overpower General Zod, throwing him into a neon Coca-Cola sign.
The New York Daily News Building
Located at 220 42nd Street, this served as the physical location of Clark Kent’s place of employment throughout Christopher Reeve’s tenure as the Man of Steel.
Statue of Liberty
In 2000’s X-Men, director Bryan Singer choreographed a finale between Magneto and his accomplices’ Mystique, Sabertooth and Toad versus the X-Men, Storm, Jean Grey, Cyclops and Wolverine as they face off and attempt to save the kidnapped Rouge. Magneto plans to turn the world’s leaders who are attending a summit on Ellis Island into mutants, setting his machine upon Liberty Island.
Fights ensue both within the statue and outside, with the X-Men ultimately victorious.
The Dark Knight Rises
New York Stock Exchange
Although director Christopher Nolan previously substituted Chicago (and a certain extent England) for much of Gotham in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises abandoned Chicago completely, revisiting England and utilized New York, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Newark, NJ.
In an early set-piece, Bane and his gang take over the Gotham City Stock Exchange, which utilizes the actual Manhattan financial district (though it’s actually the JP Morgan Building, 23 Wall Street). Later in the film, Wall Street serves as the location for the final face-off of Bane leading Arkham’s inmates and Batman leading the police force.
One State Street Plaza
Aka, Gotham City Police Station.
Located at 1 State Street Plaza, New York, this office tower was used as the exterior/rooftop of Gotham PD headquarters where Commissioner Gordon is surprised by an unexpectedly repaired Bat-Signal.
The Brooklyn Bridge/The Manhattan Bridge/The Williamsburgh Bridge
Bane has shut off Gotham City from the rest of the world (or in this case, Manhattan from its boroughs), and blows up all but one of it’s connecting bridges. Chaos ensues.