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The Super Tour In New York City

Earlier this summer, thanks to Gay League, I was fortunate enough to experience On Location Tour’s Super Tour of NYC. It’s about a 3-hour tour — stay tuned, castaways — but this time the island isn’t so deserted or remote… it was Manhattan.

“Take this tour to see where your favorite comic book heroes from The Avengers, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Jessica Jones and more saved the day. This is a one-of-a-kind experience for comic book lovers, young and old. Whether you’re a Comic-Con regular or a casual fan, this tour will give you a behind-the-scenes look at many of the most amazing, fantastic, and incredible adventures on screen and from the comics.

On this guided sightseeing bus tour you will see over 40 NYC locations featured in your favorite super-powered TV shows and movies, all from the comfort of an indoor bus with AC in the summer and heat in the winter. So put on your capes and grab your shield as your tour guide leads you through the most filmed city in the world. This bus tour will run faster than a speeding bullet every Friday and Saturday at noon.”

We met our On Location tour guide at Midtown Comics in Times Square, which was pretty dangerous all on its own, because you’re in a comic lover’s paradise, you’re waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, and they hand you a coupon. Just in case you might miss Mjolnir resting with their company sign on top, our tour guide was dressed in a cape, with a Wonder Woman inspired skirt — she later confided in us that she made it herself and is an avid cosplayer. She wrangled the group, confirmed names, went over a few ground rules and gave us the skinny on time (about 3 hours), walking (there is a fair amount, but not it’s a marathon), picture taking (very welcome, but video while on the bus is not), and advised us to stick with the group as we were on a schedule.

And we were off to the first stop on our tour, Times Square, immediately recognizable from several films, not just comic book ones. However, it didn’t hurt that she pointed out where Spider-Man fought Electro, where Captain America ran out from the secret S.H.I.E.L.D. base, or even later an interesting tidbit about Lou Ferrigno insisting on wearing shoes while playing The Incredible Hulk for a scene in Times Square. Also notable, The Paramount Theatre which served as an inspiration for The Daily Planet building in Superman.

It was a short walk to the tour bus, most of the tour happening while the bus drives around New York and you get to see the filming locations. To help “bring it to life”, there are video screens on the bus that play the accompanying scenes from movies and TV shows. So as we were driving by the Astor Place Starbucks, we were shown a scene from the film Spider-Man 2 showing Peter Parker attempting to reconnect with Mary Jane in that very same coffee shop. 

However, so the tour can take place independent of weather or season, much of it takes place while on the bus, driving from place to place. It is definitely not a walking tour of filming locations, and sometimes if you were looking out the window at the wrong time, you might have missed a particular building or landmark. Also, since it is New York, it wasn’t easy to get pictures of the taller buildings from inside the bus. When the bus did make stops, we had ample time to walk to locations, look around and take photos before heading to the next stop on the tour. Walking spots were Times Square, The New York Daily News building, Washington Square, Wall Street/New York Stock Exchange, and Battery Park. ”

Being in New York means that there were so many places used or that inspired not just movie and TV locations, but scenes in comic books as well. So you’d see real locations, the Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, United Nations. You’d also see where the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building would be, you’d see buildings that inspired comic book settings. One fun spot was Pershing Square Cafe seen in The Avengers, except in real life, it’s under a bridge, so in the movie they just used CGI, so characters could look up at the sky to see the Chitauri invasion. 

Something I really enjoyed about the tour is the history you got along the way about how buildings, landmarks or neighborhoods inspired comic book writers and artists over time. The main focus of the tour is movie & TV filming locations, but the tour guide made it educational as well. So in addition to seeing where a scene from Gotham or Jessica Jones was shot, you might also see the location of the original office of Bob Kane and Bill Finger, or the home of Kirk Alyn (the first actor to play Superman in live-action). You’d learn interesting trivia about the history of comics publishing. You could discover which TV and movie scenes were actually shot in New York and which were shot on a soundstage.

Being in New York means that there were so many places used or that inspired not just movie and TV locations, but scenes in comic books as well. So you’d see real locations, the Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, United Nations. You’d also see where the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building would be, you’d see buildings that inspired comic book settings. One fun spot was Pershing Square Cafe seen in The Avengers, except in real life, it’s under a bridge, so in the movie they just used CGI, so characters could look up at the sky to see the Chitauri invasion. 

Something I really enjoyed about the tour is the history you got along the way about how buildings, landmarks or neighborhoods inspired comic book writers and artists over time. The main focus of the tour is movie & TV filming locations, but the tour guide made it educational as well. So in addition to seeing where a scene from Gotham or Jessica Jones was shot, you might also see the location of the original office of Bob Kane and Bill Finger, or the home of Kirk Alyn (the first actor to play Superman in live-action). You’d learn interesting trivia about the history of comics publishing. You could discover which TV and movie scenes were actually shot in New York and which were shot on a soundstage.

An utter highlight of the tour for me was visiting the New York Daily News building, used in the 1978 Superman movie to stand in as The Daily Planet. It has been maintained in its amazing art deco glory, marble walls, a huge globe in the lobby with brass meteorological equipment, and navigational points set into the floor. It may be best known from the scene where Lois Lane pauses at Clark Kent’s use of the term “swell” when talking about his first day on the job. I feel that Reeves’ performance in Superman set a bar for the modern comic book movie and what an on-screen superhero should feel like. Walking through the lobby of the Daily News, you felt like you could be set right into a comic book. It was absolutely gorgeous, I easily took a dozen selfies and twice as many photos of the location. 

 

 

All in all, starting in Times Square and ending near Battery Park with an excellent view of the Statue of Liberty, it was a fun tour. I have to give a lot of credit to our tour guide, because she was very entertaining and knowledgeable, an admitted comic book geek herself. She kept us occupied and distracted while the bus was stuck behind some police and emergency vehicles, and was very diligent in making sure everyone in the tour group made it back to the bus. No Tourist Left Behind.

 

The Super Tour of NYC is definitely for the film location buff who’s a fan of the modern superhero movies and tv shows. On Location tours has a few other themed tours in New York, and our tour guide mentioned that they each roughly cover a different part of the city, so there isn’t much overlap. Being on a bus means that you may need to be quick with your camera to capture a shot of an exterior as you go by, but there would have been no way to cover as much ground on foot. For an entertaining and fascinating look at some New York landmarks and locations that have featured in several movies and TV shows, this tour is an excellent bet.

Brian Gray is a writer, gaymer, foodie, broadcaster, comics lover, cocktail connoisseur, brunch aficionado and all-around nerd who resides in The Swanktuary when he’s not out and about exploring or staying in and trying new things on the internet. He can be found most places online as urbanbohemian, including Twitter, Twitch, his blog , and other spaces.

September 26, 2019
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