It’s official: superheroes rule the world. With Avengers: Endgame taking up the mantle of “highest-grossing movie of all time” and Spider-Man: Far From Home emerging as Sony Pictures’ most successful blockbuster in decades, it’s incontestable that the superpowered genre is more than a temporary trend. Superheroes are here to stay. You shouldn’t be surprised, though, since they never left in the first place. From the comic book pages where they originally came from to Hollywood action-packed films, spandex outfits and over-the-top superpowers are completely ingrained in the Americana lore. 

Superheroes are pretty much everywhere these days, all right. But there’s one place where they always seem to gather to keep on their endless crusade against evil: New York City. The Big Apple stands out as the perfect setting to root these modern myths into our world. Ok, it might be difficult to actually spot real superheroes in New York on your way to Rockefeller Center. But, luckily, it is more than possible to visit the locations where they defend humankind from supervillains on the big screen. So, get your cape and cowl ready and join us on this tour of our top five places that any fan of cinematic heroes shouldn’t miss while visiting the city.

1. Whitehall Terminal/Staten Island Ferry

“With great power comes great responsibility”. Rings a bell? Of course it does. Even if you’re not into superheroes at all, you surely have heard these wise words before thanks to the wisecracking teenage marvel who lives by its code: the Amazing Spider-Man! Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962, the wallcrawler is an all-time fan favorite and an enduring symbol of New York.

Staten Island Ferry

Until recently, Spidey has been one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s biggest assets thanks to the refreshing and juvenile take on the character portrayed by Tom Holland. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) set the tone of this new era of Spider-Man movies, and, as you can imagine, New York City played a huge role in it. From peaceful Forest Hill (the real Queens neighborhood where Peter Parker lives) to thrilling Coney Island, the film guides the audience through many locations scattered across the Big Apple. One of its most memorable scenes takes place at the southern tip of Manhattan, where thousands of New Yorkers and tourists take the iconic orange ferries headed for Staten Island. Parker finally gets the gist of his hi-tech suit beating some of The Vulture’s goons up right before he takes the fight to a ferry (which, spoiler alert, will get completely torn in half!). After Iron Man steps up to save the day, he takes Spidey to the top of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel Ventilation Shaft located at nearby Governor’s Island to lecture him about what it takes to be a true hero.

2. Park Avenue Viaduct

Grand Central Viaduct

Comic book gurus Stan “The Man” Lee and Jack “The King” Kirby made comic book history in 1963 when they assembled Marvel Comics’ most powerful team: The Avengers. Although the original supergroup- Iron Man, Ant-Man, The Hulk, Thor, and The Wasp- and its following additions were an immediate success, it wasn’t until their first live-action movie was released in 2012 when Earth’s Mightiest Heroes made the leap from comic book obscurity to mainstream stardom. Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, indeed, surprised everybody with a defining game-changer that heralded a new and promising era for this genre.

Grand Central Viaduct

If you’ve watched the movie, you might remember that its final battle takes place around Grand Central Station. It’s really hard to miss, really, since the transportation hub’s surroundings are heavily featured in the movie. Good examples of this are the Stark Tower, located right where the MetLife building should be, or the “Instafamous” brunch venue Pershing Square cafe. And yes, that unforgettable scene where our heroes brace themselves for the alien invasion was shot right over the Park Avenue Viaduct. Want to stand there and strike your epic superhero pose? Well, scratch that. Unfortunately, pedestrians cannot walk across the viaduct. Since being run over by a car doesn’t sound like something a hero would aim for, we strongly suggest driving this elevated roadway instead.

3. The News Building

Image via Flickr – CC BY 2.0 – Scott Stockwell

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…Superman! Yes, The Last Son of Krypton has definitely bragging rights when it comes to superheroic legends. Even so, it wasn’t until 1978 when he really flew up, up, and away with his own full-length movie. Directed by Richard Donner, Superman is still fondly remembered as one of the first and most successful attempts to bring superheroes to theaters, engaging with mainstream audiences without leaving out comic book details such as the Daily Planet, the iconic newsroom where Superman works as a journalist under the guise of his clumsy alter ego, Clark Kent.

Fans will surely remember the magnificent Earth globe located at the center of this fictitious newspaper’s lobby. As it happens, those scenes were shot at the former headquarters of the New York Daily News, one of Manhattan’s main tabloids. Located at 220E 42nd St., the News Building rises as an art deco masterpiece that still manages to attract both journalists crews- now it’s home to the TV station WPIX- and Superman fans alike.

You may also like: All the Places Every True Marvel Fan Should Visit

4. Federal Hall

Federal Hall

Fun fact: The first person who ever used the term “Gotham (originally, “goat’s town“) as a nickname of New York was the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving. But, as much as we love NY, “Gotham” will always be remembered as the corrupt city where Batman fights The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, and Two-Face among other colorful psychopaths. There’s a strong connection between the two cities, though: co-author Bill Finger created the caped crusader’s home in 1940 as a twisted reflection of New York’s shadiest, most dangerous side.

Sure, most of the acclaimed Dark Knight Trilogy was shot in Chicago. But there was also place for New York in Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece. More specifically, the area surrounding Wall Street plays a crucial role at the end of the last installment of the franchise, The Dark Knight Returns. ThereBatman fights the anarchist behemoth Bane in a desperate “battle royal” at the stairs of Federal Hall, “the birthplace of American democracy” where George Washington became the first President of the United States.

5. 177A Bleecker St.

Few superheroes are more unique than Dr. Stephen Strange, a brilliant yet cocky surgeon who ended up protecting our reality from interdimensional menaces in the rich and varied universe created by Marvel Comics. The Sorcerer Supreme was created in 1963 by the same duo responsible for Spider-Man, which might be the reason why he- as well as the wallcrawler from Queens- also lives in a real New York address: 177A Bleecker Street.

177A Bleecker St.

177A Bleecker St., Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum at Greenwich Village. Photo by Javier Peinado. All rights reserved.

And why this specific location, you might ask? Well, turns out it’s a direct reference to another well-known real address prominently featured in fictional stories: 221B Baker Street. Sounds familiar? It should, since that’s where none other than the great Sherlock Holmes lives in London. Now, don’t be too disappointed if you arrive at this Greenwich Village location only to find a boring apartment building. You see, it’s more than possible that the good doctor has cast a spell in order to mask the true facade of his inner Sanctum Sanctorum, keeping the truth hidden to the outside world…

 

2 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Meek Wifey

    What a great recap! Thanks for the superhero tips; I know where I’ll take my husband in our next visit to the city!

    Reply

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About The Author

Javier Peinado
Content Writer

Born in Barcelona. Raised in Madrid. New Yorker at heart. When he is not geeking out at a comic book convention or binge-watching superhero shows, this bilingual journalist loves to discover secret venues and hidden places around the world to fill his insatiable wanderlust. He also digs into ghost-busting, Bigfoot-hunting, and UFO-sighting. The truth is out there.