New York Film Locations

Doctor Strange Showed Different Sides of New York

1 December 2016

Too often, films set and/or filmed in New York City show a highly romanticised view of the city, without delving into what it feels like to live there or walk through the streets. One could probably find plenty of film fans who have never been to New York and assume the whole city looks like the cleanest parts of Fifth Avenue, or that the cobblestones on and around Wall Street are representative of an area where people live. For a movie that only partially took place in New York, however, Doctor Strange did a better job at showing some different corners of the city.

Let's consider a few of the different looks at New York we got in this latest—and perhaps greatest—Marvel adventure.

Nice Neighborhoods

Some of the scenes in which Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) was simply walking around the city took place on the Upper West Side, in nicer and perhaps quieter neighborhoods than the average New York City street scenes. On Location Vacations uses pictures from fans on Twitter and other social media to pinpoint and advertise set locations for films, and pegged a specific spot at 86th Street and West End Ave. as one area where Cumberbatch was filming scenes in full costume. This was a good excuse for the Marvel folks to show some very typical NYC scenery without the crowds that would inevitably clutter shots closer to midtown.

High-End Living

It's less clear where Doctor Strange's apartment is in the city, but we see some pretty impressive images of the sort of cavernous modern bachelor pad apartment that movies often show us in New York. In reality these places, insofar as they even exist, are prohibitively expensive. However, the idea of a protagonist looking down over the city from some floor-to-ceiling window in a gorgeous condo isn't a new one, and Doctor Strange took full advantage of the concept. To their credit, the folks at Marvel didn't put Strange atop a skyscraper or in some obvious location overlooking Central Park. When we see him in his apartment, the city outside is rainy and gloomy and, while impressive, somewhat nondescript. He could be in any number of locations throughout the city.

A Glimpse Of Stark Tower

Marvel isn't particularly subtle, but there was an interesting panning shot of the city in which we also glimpsed the fictional New York that the studio has created over time—the one in which a giant Stark Industries tower stands as a symbol of the Avengers. It almost seemed bizarre in the context of Strange, which, for a time at least, was grounded in something close to reality. Then again, it's a reminder of something we always seem to forget: that Tony Stark is about as much of a superhero as Iron Man. Not only is he a world class engineer and inventor, but he's also rich enough to afford one of the glitziest skyscrapers in New York City. The Euro Millions platform Lottoland, in creating a tongue-in-cheek look at wealth for players to aspire to, listed the richest fictional characters in history and had Stark at fourth on the list. The f ourth richest fictional character ever! This gets lost sometimes in the excitement of the Avengers, but seeing Stark's tower gleaming on the New York skyline is a nice reminder of the kind of character the rest of the "world" in Marvel movies knows Stark to be outside of his costume.

The Skyline Like Never Before

Innumerable movies have captured the indescribable scope and scale of the Manhattan skyline, but there hasn't been a film to use that skyline quite like this one. Borrowing more than a little from the city-bending dream design in Inception, Doctor Strange warps, twists, and folds the skyscrapers, rivers, and parks of New York to dizzying effect. Naturally this is less about filming location and more about special effects, but it nonetheless offers a unique look at the city.

Most fans are likely to remember the film primarily for its scenes in Nepal and its playfulness with inter-dimensional travel and teleportation. But along the way, Doctor Strange was actually a pretty interesting New York movie as well.


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