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Sunday June 16th 2024

Iron Man 2 | 2010

Iron Man 2 filming location: Randy's Donuts, West Manchester Avenue, Inglewood, Los Angeles
Iron Man 2 location: Nick Fury discovers Tony Stark after the birthday bash: Randy's Donuts, West Manchester Avenue, Inglewood, Los Angeles

After outing himself as iron Man, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) falls prey to the heady trappings of mega-celebrity, making a spectacular flying entrance to the opening of the Stark Expo, with cheerleaders and a thumping AC/DC soundtrack. The site of the expo is supposedly Queens, in New York, but although background plates were actually filmed in Flushing, most of the Expo is digitally created.

Iron Man 2 location: Flushing Meadow, Queens
Iron Man 2 location: Tony Stark flies into the Stark Expo extravaganza: Flushing Meadow, Queens

The Expo is based around the remaining structures from the real 1964-65 New York Worlds Fair in Flushing Meadow, Union Turnpike-44th Avenue. You’ll have seen the giant Unisphere and the saucer-topped towers if you’ve ever taken a cab from JFK Airport into Manhattan. And even if you haven’t been to New York, chances are you’ll recognise them as the alien landing site in the original Men In Black and from the bike chase in Men In Black 3.

Over in Moscow, meanwhile, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) is seething with resentment over the treatment of his father by Stark Sr. Apart from a couple of generic establishing shots, there’s no real Moscow – the ‘Russian’ scenes were filmed on the studio backlot in Los Angeles.

Likewise, ‘Washington DC’ is nothing more than a stock shot (cruelly revealed if you saw the film on the Imax screen). The hearing in front of Senator Stern (Garry Shandling), to determine if Tony Stark’s suit constitutes a weapon, and which sets up the rivalry with spray-tanned Stark-wannabe Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), is filmed in the Grand Hall of Pasadena Masonic Temple, 200 South Euclid Avenue, Pasadena. The same hall was recently the location for the ‘Caribbean Night’ party in David Fincher’s The Social Network.

As with the first film, the magic of CGI plonks the Stark mansion on the Malibu coast atop Point Dume.

Iron Man 2 location: Monte Carlo, Monaco
Iron Man 2 location: Vanko makes his attack on Stark at the Grand Prix: Monte Carlo, Monaco

The shots of Monaco and the Grand Prix de Monaco circuit are the real Monte Carlo, (though none of the cast actually made it to the tiny European principality). The production was allowed limited access to the famed course, though the racing cars in long shots are computer generated.

The annual Formula One race takes place on the winding streets of Monte Carlo itself and La Condamine, the area just to the west. Established as a Grand Prix track long before strict modern safety regulations, the circuit is acknowledged as pretty much the ultimate test of driving skills.

The paths of Stark and Hammer appear to cross again in the Monte Carlo’s Hotel de Paris, Place du Casino, though the interior was built in the studio.

Likewise, a section of the racecourse, where Vanko launches his electro-whip attack on Stark’s car, was reconstructed at the studio in Downey. And as Happy Happy (Jon Favreau) arrives in the nick of time to deliver the suitcase suit, that is a real Rolls Royce Phantom sliced into pieces.

Iron Man 2 filming location: Lincoln Heights Jail, North Avenue 19, Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles
Iron Man 2 location: Vanko is sprung from jail: Lincoln Heights Jail, North Avenue 19, Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles

It’s from the bowels of the dependable old Lincoln Heights Jail, 421 North Avenue 19, Lincoln Heights, near downtown Los Angeles, that Vanko is sprung, leaving behind a dead lookalike. The jail’s screen history stretches back to George Cukor’s 1954 A Star Is Born, with Judy Garland, and was used for many interiors for the original A Nightmare On Elm Street.

The ‘Hammer Advanced Weapons Systems’ facility, supposedly in ‘Queens, New York’, where Justin Hammer proudly shows off his set of armoured suits to the distinctly unimpressed Vanko, is SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corporation) in Hawthorne, southern Los Angeles, the space transport development company headed by Elon Musk (entrepreneur founder of Tesla Motors and the ubiquitous PayPal). Sounds not too different from its movie counterpart. Its HQ is – where else would it be? – 1 Rocket Road.

After a falling out with Stark at his preposterously indulgent birthday bash, Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) takes off with the other armoured suit, which he dutifully delivers to the US air force at Edwards Air Force Base, about 25 miles northeast of Lancaster in the Mojave Desert, California. The base stood in for the Stark air field in the previous Iron Man film, and there’s plenty of co-operation from the force this time around, even stretching to the display of a B-2 stealth bomber (though the B-2 can only be photographed from certain limited angles).

The next day finds Stark disconsolately munching comfort food in the giant concrete donut atop Randy’s Donuts, 805 West Manchester Boulevard, Inglewood – just a few minutes' northeast of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Don’t expect to sit down to enjoy your donuts, like Stark, Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). Randy’s is solely a take-away – the interior was filmed in another premises nearby.

The famous donut is seen in plenty of other films, of course, including cult 80s favourite Earth Girls Are Easy.

As the Hammer drones go on the attack, live music venue the Microsoft Theater (formerly the Nokia Theatre), 777 Chick Hearn Court, at South Figueroa Street across from the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, stands in for the exterior of the beleaguered Stark Expo.

With its elaborate pyrotechnics, the bio-dome climax is a combination of studio set and CGI. The set was in fact based on the Japanese Garden at the familiar Huntington Library and Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, east of LA. Laser-based measuring technology called Lidar (a conflation of ‘light’ and ‘radar’) was used to record the details of the real Garden, which was then digitally recreated – and harmlessly destroyed.

The real Huntington estate itself appears for the final presentation of medals to Stark and Rhodes by a grudging Senator Stern. Specifically, it’s atop the steps of the library’s newly-built Munger Research Center.

The Huntington and its extensive grounds can be seen in countless films, including American Wedding, Charlie’s Angels, The Girl Next Door, Indecent Proposal, Anger Management, Serenity, The Wedding Planner, Memoirs of a Geisha and Monster in Law.