The Amazing Spider-Man 2| 2014
Andrew Garfield really makes the role of Peter Parker his own, as the Gwen Stacy storyline is worked out.
Like all the Spider-Man films, including the Raimi trilogy, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set in New York, but surprisingly this is the first one to be wholly filmed there (the others all feature scenes shot in Los Angeles and other cities).
A couple of familiar places return from the first movie, including the Parker home, which is 36 Fuller Place, just to the north of Prospect Avenue, in the Windsor Terrace neighbourhood of Brooklyn.
The exterior of the towering ‘Oscorp Building’, where business seems to be booming, is again the Hearst Tower, 300 West 57th Street at 8th Avenue, just to the south of Columbus Circle in midtown New York.
The base is a traditional 1928 stone building, but it’s topped by a 46-story glass tower, added by architect Norman Foster, rendered even more extravagant by the film’s CGI additions.
That’s not the Hearst’s real interior. Oscorp’s vast three-story lobby is a set built in Brooklyn’s Marcy Armory, 355 Marcy Avenue at Lynch Street, dressed with authentic – and costly – artwork loaned by some of New York's most prestigious galleries. The armory has previously housed sets for productions such as Will Smith sci-fi I Am Legend and Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes.
The attempt by Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti) to hijack an Oscorp truck carrying plutonium seems to cause chaos throughout central Manhattan but since there is apparently a NYC regulation banning cars from exceeding 30mph during filming (news to me), many of the big stunts were filmed about 300 miles to the northwest, on Main Street in Rochester, toward Lake Ontario in Upstate New York.
The Rochester chase doesn’t make a lot of sense geographically (since you’re not supposed to recognise the background) – so Sytsevich is first barrelling east on East Main Street toward the Genesee River Bridge, then roaring west under the pedestrian overpass on the other side of the river (you can see quite a lot of the overpass in the background throughout the sequence).
Spiderman is meanwhile swinging along 6th Avenue / Avenue of the Americas at 48th Street, with a cheery cry of “Hello pedestrians!”, and nerdy Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) carries his load of blueprints along 8th Avenue, scattering them on the sidewalk at 56th Street. This just happens to be alongside the Oscorp building, which is where the two have their first fateful meeting as Spidey rescues Max from being crushed by a flying yellow cab.
The cop car bottleneck and shoot-em-up is back on Main Street, Rochester, but the diversion through a narrow alleyway brings the Oscorp truck back to Manhattan, out onto Madison Street in Chinatown, between Catherine Street and Market Street, below the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, where Spidey scoops up the stray container of plutonium and gets “caught up in traffic”.
The truck has suddenly crossed the East River, to appear below the Brooklyn end of the Manhattan Bridge, where it smashes into a bus on the cobbles and disused tracks of Plymouth Street.
Alongside the monumental arches of the Bridge on Anchorage Place, Spidey subdues – and depantses – Sytsevich, before heading off to make it in time for graduation.
Fortunately the ‘Midtown Science High School’ ceremony is being held barley half a mile away at the East River Park Amphitheater, on the Lower East Side. The park lies on the east side of FDR Drive, between Montgomery Street and 12th Street. The amphitheater, regularly used for public performances, is on the East River Promenade at Corlears Hook, south of the Williamsburg Bridge.
Peter agrees to meet Gwen (Emma Stone) later that evening but, when the time comes, he hesitates outside Nom Wah Tea Parlor, 13 Doyers Street in Chinatown. This famous dim sum house, which opened originally next door at 11) in 1920, has previously been seen in Woody Allen's Radio Days, Reversal of Fortune and King Of New York.
Remembering the promise he made to her father not to put Gwen in danger, it’s outside the restaurant on Doyers Street things come to a head and they reluctantly break up.
A world away, on the swanky Upper East Side, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), visits his illness ravaged father Norman (Chris Cooper) in the lavish Italianate palazzo at 1 East 91st Street on Fifth Avenue, overlooking Central Park. One of New York's largest private houses, the last on the so-called Millionaire's Row, the mansion was built in 1918 for banker Otto Kahn and later became the Convent of the Sacred Heart. Fittingly, it was used as the Bishop’s ‘Boston’ palace in Sidney Lumet’s The Verdict, with Paul Newman, and as the apartment block robbed in the same director’s The Anderson Tapes. It also supplied the interior of 2 East 91st Street, which stands opposite, in Working Girl.
Meeting for the first time since childhood, Peter and Harry catch up, and skim stones, on the Brooklyn waterfront, in the peaceful surrounds of the new(ish) Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park, 26 New Dock Street, the nine-acre green space between Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge.
At night, Peter and Gwen meet up at the market in Union Square Park, Union Square between East 14th and 16th Streets, where they reconcile to become just friends. All is looking good until, on the High Line, Gwen drops the bombshell that she’s of to England to study at Oxford University.
High Line Park is a mile-long linear, aerial greenway constructed by planting the old elevated West Side Line, a disused spur of the New York Central Railroad, with greenery. The imaginative repurposing was inspired by a similar project in Paris, which you might have seen in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset.
Meanwhile Max, having been ripped off by his employer, Oscorp, and had his Selina Kyle-moment falling into a tank of electric eels, discovers he’s been reborn as Electro – a glowing blue entity feeding on electricity (though more modestly attired than Dr Manhattan in Watchmen).
Tempted by the power surging through the bright lights of Times Square, he finds himself cornered by cops, and when Spider-Man’s well-meaning intervention is botched, Electro goes into full-on Carrie mode.
Although some of the filming took place at the real Times Square, the spectacular scene necessitated the construction of a huge reproduction of New York’s dazzling heart on the backlot of Gold Coast Studios in Bethpage, Oyster Bay on Long Island.
Eventually captured, Electro is taken off to ‘Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane’, which seems to be Oscorp’s reply to ‘Arkham Asylum’. The solid, five-sided fortress is the old Fort Schuyler, 6 Pennyfield Avenue, Throggs Neck, now the Maritime Museum – part of SUNY Maritime College Community beneath the Throggs Neck Bridge in the Bronx.
Away from Gwen, and dwelling on the mystery of his parents, Peter follows the clue of subway tokens to a reconstruction of the old Roosevelt Spur, an underground station built for as a private VIP entrance beneath the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. According to legend, this was used by FDR to keep the president’s disability from public view. It’s here that Peter discovers his father’s old lab.
But when he exits the tunnel on foot, it’s from the southern entrance to the East New York Tunnel, at the abandoned East New York Station on the disused Bay Ridge LIRR line. The remains of the station, just beneath Atlantic Avenue at Van Sinderen Avenue alongside Atlantic Avenue station in Brooklyn, can be seen from Liberty Avenue, alongside the elevated L Line.
The Oscorp power plant where the final confrontation plays out is another giant set at Gold Coast Studios.
Like the previous film, the story seems set to end with a funeral, this time held at Lutheran Cemetery, on Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village, Queens.
But a final twist sees Sytsevich getting his hands on a giant metal suit, appearing as the Rhino, threatening mayhem on Park Avenue between East 52nd and East 53rd Streets, and prompting Spider-Man’s much-needed return to crime fighting.