Man Of Steel | 2013
While Illinois supplies the countryside of ‘Kansas’ and the city of ‘Metropolis’, British Columbia stands in for ‘Alaska’ and the frozen north, as well as hosting the studio filming, which took place at Mammoth Studios, 2820 Underhill Avenue, in Burnaby, east of Vancouver. There was meant to be more filming in BC, as Canada is usually pretty smart at providing incentives to film, but when it came to supplying the necessary military facilities, this time the USA won out.
Nevertheless, the ‘Bright Arctic’ oil rig, from which the bearded and anonymous Man of Steel (Henry Cavill) rescues the beleaguered crew, was a green-screen backed set built in North Vancouver, on Low Level Road, overlooking Vancouver Harbour.
The Debbie Sue fishing boat, on which he’s serving, was filmed off the western coast coast of Vancouver Island, way to the west, where the ‘Alaskan’ village at which he comes ashore is the town of Ucluelet, about 100 miles northwest of Victoria. It’s on the corner of Main Street and Helen Street in Ucluelet that the sight of a school bus triggers off uncomfortable childhood memories. Ucluelet is south of Tofino, where beach scenes for The Twilight Saga: New Moon were filmed.
Also in BC is the loggers’ bar, where Kent has to control his temper as customers harass the waitress (though he does serious damage to someone’s truck), which is the Cassidy Inn Pub, 2954 Trans Canada Hwy 2 (apparently now closed) over on the east coast of Vancouver Island in Nanaimo.
About 15 miles southwest of Plano is the town of Serena. It’s a couple of miles east of town that the young Clark Kent reveals his powers to schoolmates as the bus plunges into the Fox River from the North 38th Road (US 52) Bridge.
East of Plano, the Kent family farm was built on the south side of East Schoolhouse Road, just east of Fairway Drive, between Yorkville and Plainfield.
The research of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) leads her to the ‘Smallville’ branch of IHOP (International House of Pancakes), where she questions Clark Kent’s old schoolmate. This particular outlet is the IHOP Restaurant, 2455 Augusta Way, in Aurora, about ten miles to the north.
Lois eventually finds Kent at his father’s grave in ‘Smallville Cemetery’, which is Aux Sable Grove Naausay Cemetery, Grove Road, off East Schoolhouse Road (which is just southeast of the farmhouse set).
The flashback to the tornado that changes Kent’s life was filmed a few miles west of Aurora, at Sugar Grove. You’ll find the overpass beneath which Clark and his mother (Diane Lane) take shelter on Route 56 as it passes beneath East Galena Boulevard.
For a short while, we’re in California, in the featureless heart of the Mojave Desert as Superman agrees to be handed over by the military to General Zod (Michael Shannon). This sequence was filmed at Edwards Air Force Base, about 22 miles northeast of Lancaster, which must be getting as used to superheroes as Chicago, after featuring in the Iron Man movies – as well as Michael Bay’s Transformers.
Plano itself provides the Main Street of ‘Smallville’, where Superman fights a furiously energetic battle with Faora-Ul (Antje Traue). False store fronts – as well as a virtually complete 7-11 store – were erected by the city’s Amtrak station, on West Main Street between North West Street and North Center Street.
General Zod takes the fight to the heart of ‘Metropolis’, which is the centre of Chicago – only recently recovering from the anarchy brought to its streets by the Scarecrow and the Joker in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
The exterior of the ‘Daily Planet’ office in ‘Metropolis’ is supposedly the Chicago Board of Trade Building, 141 West Jackson Boulevard, in Chicago’s Loop (which was previously ‘Wayne Enterprises’ in The Dark Knight), but if this is so, it’s tough to spot.
The interior is Chicago’s Willis Tower, 233 South Wacker Drive, occupying the block surrounded by Franklin Street and Wacker Drive, Adams Street and Jackson Boulevard. You may not recognise the name – the building is better known by its former name, the Sears Tower. Willis Group Holdings, an English insurance company, didn’t win many friends when they renamed the famous landmark and, for many locals at least, the old name remains.
As Superman and Zod knock great holes in the glorious architecture of downtown Chicago, panicked crowds flock onto Stetson Avenue, to the south of the Hyatt Regency Chicago (entrance at 151 East Upper Wacker Drive). The airborne pair finally plunge to earth through the roof of Chicago Union Station, 210 South Canal Street, to settle the score once and for all in its monumental Great Hall. This grand concourse has already seen its share of screen action, particularly with the shoot-out in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables.
The epilogue, with Superman bristling at the idea that the Government might want to keep tabs on him, is filmed by the satellite dishes of the Owens Valley Solar Array, a few miles north of Big Pine, in central California.