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The Explorer

The Student News Site of Hudson High School

The Explorer

The Student News Site of Hudson High School

The Explorer

Cleveland and Marvel: The MCU’s relationship with Northeast Ohio

The+original+Avengers+promotional+poster+shows+scenes+from+the+%E2%80%9CBattle+of+New+York%E2%80%9D+that+was+filmed+in+Cleveland.
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The original Avengers promotional poster shows scenes from the “Battle of New York” that was filmed in Cleveland.

It is no secret that multiple scenes from various Marvel projects have been filmed in Cleveland, Ohio. Some of the most notable films include The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, both of which spent quite a lot of time in downtown Cleveland filming large fight scenes including “The Battle of New York” featured at the end of the first Avengers movie. But why exactly did the Marvel franchise choose Cleveland to represent various cities in their movies, what impact have these films had on Cleveland, and how were these large sequences filmed in such a prosperous city? These questions, as well as additional information regarding how Cleveland relates to the MCU, will be the main focus of this article, along with the goal of highlighting Cleveland as an amazing city to film large-scale scenes for up-and-coming films. 

Let’s start with why the Marvel franchise chose to shoot some of its biggest scenes right here in Cleveland. The answer actually varies depending on the project in question. One of the biggest reasons Joss Whedon, director of The Avengers, chose Cleveland is because of the Ohio Film Tax Credit. This program “provides a refundable tax credit of 30 percent on production cast and crew wages plus other eligible in-state spending” according to the Ohio Department of Development. They also say it was created to bolster a stronger film industry in Ohio. The initiative essentially makes Ohio one of the best states to film movies, and with the MCU still on the rise, Whedon thought it would make a good substitute for New York City. Additionally, Cleveland has less traffic than other big cities meaning that it is much easier to shut down busy streets – something that Whedon needed in order to film the final act of The Avengers.

Actor Chris Evans as Captain America prepares to film a scene in Cleveland in which he has to fight Loki’s Army. (WKYC)

As previously mentioned, the reasons for filming certain Marvel projects in Cleveland differed depending on the film. A large portion of Captain America: The Winter Soldier was filmed in Cleveland because of the same reasons previously listed but also because of how much the cast and crew enjoyed filming The Avengers here. Many people who worked on the first Avengers movie thought Cleveland was such a good host that they were eager to come back and use it for their upcoming project. Another – more personal – reason for filming Captain America: The Winter Soldier in Cleveland was because directors Joe and Anthony Russo actually grew up in Cleveland. According to an article by the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, “the Russo Brothers were raised in Cleveland and attended Benedictine High School before studying as grad students at Case Western Reserve University.” It was the Russo Brothers’ love of their hometown that persuaded them to film their very first MCU project in the streets where they grew up. 

Now that it is understood why the Marvel franchise chose to film in Cleveland, it is time to discuss the impact these MCU films had on the city. “The Marvel Cinematic Universe has impacted us as much as we have impacted it,” says the Greater Cleveland Film Commission. Big projects like The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier helped put Cleveland on the map as an awesome place to make movies. These films also created over 500 jobs for Cleveland workers and inspired the creation of many more. Despite the overall positive impact these films had on Cleveland, there were definitely some drawbacks. The downside of shutting down busy streets for days at a time is immense traffic and an overall annoyance from people having to deal with these blocked streets. That being said, MCU star Chris Evans addressed this issue in a tweet saying “sorry we’re screwing up your traffic, Cleveland! You’ve been a very gracious host.” This kind of gratitude is what inspires Cleveland to continue hosting large productions like this.

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The practical explosion featured in the “Battle of New York” that shut down Cleveland Streets and shook the city on August 15, 2011. (WKYC)

One question that still remains is how such extensive fight scenes were filmed in Cleveland. As previously stated, there were multiple streets shut down to film “The Battle of New York” – something that Marvel producers needed in order to get the quality, effect and realness they desired. Once these streets were shut down, they would gather all the actors and extras and prepare them for the scene. Then, they would prepare the props and set pieces, which in this case included flying and burning cars. Once the director called ‘action’ the main actors started performing, extras started running and screaming across the street and cars started flying and bursting into flame. At the end of the shooting, the streets looked like an actual battlefield but the product of this destruction was arguably one of the most iconic scenes in the entire MCU. 

In more recent news, Marvel’s new movie Blade spent nine days last November filming a scene in Cleveland. The scene required a lot of extras and according to an article by Cleveland.com, it could be “a pivotal action scene with a large crowd and Cleveland standing in for a large city.” Blade is one of the first Marvel movies to be filmed in Cleveland in a long time and will hopefully encourage more MCU projects to take advantage of Cleveland’s film industry.

The impact that Marvel and Cleveland have had on each other is undeniable, and nobody agrees more than Mr. Ellison. In an interview with him, Mr. Ellison expressed his love of Marvel as well as his excitement to bring Cleveland into the spotlight. When asked how he first got into Marvel, Mr. Ellison said “my grandpa gave me my very first comic book, and it was an issue of Spider Man.” Ever since then, he has been reading comic books and started watching the movies in 2002. Since the release of the first Spider-Man film, Mr. Ellison has been trying to watch as many Marvel movies as he can. Mr. Ellison is also no stranger to the relationship between Cleveland and Marvel. “I know the Russo brothers; they made a few of the movies. I know they made The Winter Soldier and Civil War, and they’re actually from Cleveland,” said Mr. Ellison when asked what he knew about this relationship. He also said that the Russo brothers tried to have a lot of scenes filmed in Cleveland because it’s cheaper to film here than in New York City. 

Mr. Ellison also has personal experience with some of the scenes shot in Cleveland. He talked about the “Battle of New York” and how the slow-mo scene featured in the movie was filmed on the streets of Cleveland. “I remember when I was a Senior in high school, there was an announcement on Facebook about how they were looking for extras to be in that scene, so my buddy and I, we drove up to Cleveland that morning” responded Mr. Ellison when asked about one such personal experience. Unfortunately, they had already reached capacity, so Mr. Ellison wasn’t able to see the set. He did, however, say how cool it was to see all the construction and the streets that were shut down. It is experiences like Mr. Ellison’s that prove just how influential the Marvel-Cleveland relationship has been and how they have each benefitted from each other. 

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About the Contributor
Ellie Davis
Ellie Davis, Reporter
Ellie Davis is a junior at HHS and just recently joined the production team for The Explorer this semester. Ellie has been on the golf team since freshman year and has loved making memories with her teammates and coaches. She has also been a competitive dancer for over ten years and loves spending time at the studio. Along with this, Ellie is a dedicated student and a member of multiple clubs including Hudson Community First, National Honors Society, and H.U.D.D.L.E. In her free time, Ellie enjoys watching movies, spending time with friends, reading, working out, and going for late night drives. She is very passionate about the climate crisis, mental health, and U.S politics, and looks forward to writing articles concerning these topics.
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