While many of Marvel’s films have not focused on London, it hasn’t stopped Marvel Studios from filming there, typically at Pinewood or Shepperton Studios. However, these films have not simply confined themselves to the studio lots and have often moved into the city as well. At least four Marvel films have used different locations in London, and even this year’s Doctor Strange has filmed in the city as well, having it play the role of New York City. While London may not have its own Marvel superhero in the cinematic world yet (crossing my fingers for Union Jack or Captain Britain), in the meantime, here are several Marvel filming locations you can visit in the city.
The first movie that features London in any capacity is, perhaps ironically, Captain America: The First Avenger. Director Joe Johnston helmed this 2011 period flick, a natural for him given his work on The Rocketeer and The Wolfman, the latter of which take place in the city. He returned to London not only to use it for the scenes occurring during the war but also to double for many American locations. The first of these follows Steve Rodgers’s demotion to USO war bond salesman, the centerpiece of an elaborate show that’s actually filmed at the Hackney Empire Theatre in East London.
Much as in history, the Strategic Scientific Reserve that Captain America serves following his heroic rescue of the American 107th Battallion is headquartered near Whitehall, with King Charles Street featured as the home of Allied headquarters. The pub in which Steve recruits the remaining Howling Commandos is actually the Crocker’s Folly at 24 Aberdeen Place. While facing an uncertain future at one time, it has since been refurbished and reopened, so it doesn’t exactly look like the same place as the movie anymore. Additionally, scenes of the Allied victory in Trafalgar Square are also featured towards the end of the film.
Captain America was the last film before 2012’s The Avengers, and Iron Man 3 would see release before Thor: The Dark World came to cinemas in 2013. At least half of the film takes place either in the mystical realm of Asgard or the very real location of London. The first scene that takes place in the city involves a dinner between Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster and Chris O’Dowd at the OXO Brasserie in OXO Tower. The dinner is interrupted by her assistant Darcy, who’s discovered some peculiar energy readings in West London. The particular site they visit is actually the Old Vinyl Factory on Blyth Road, which is a group of buildings that used to be owned by EMI. It is presently being developed into a multi-use facility that will house office space, residences, restaurants, and shops, so don’t expect the old, abandoned factory (or any wormholes to other dimensions).
After their friend, astrophysicist Dr. Erik Selvig, gets himself arrested for traipsing around Stonehenge naked, the mental hospital he’s committed to is Blythe House in West Kensington. The film also treats us to several glimpses of the city’s skyscrapers, including the Shard, which was still under construction at the time of filming. For the final battle of the film, the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich provides the setting, and Malekith’s (Christopher Eccleston) ship comes right off the Thames and onto the campus, tearing it up as it goes. Thor and Malekith also battle their way across the city, flying past St. Paul’s Cathedral and down the side of 30 St. Mary Axe, otherwise known as the Gherkin.
Despite taking place in a galaxy far, far away, Guardians of the Galaxy also has a London filming connection. Just northwest of the city, Hemel Hampstead Hospital can be seen in the prologue as the hospital in which Peter Quill’s mother is dying. During an attack on the planet Xandar by the forces of Ronan the Accuser, people flee across the Millennium Bridge. The Lloyd’s Building’s unusual architecture also came in handy for representing an alien structure in the Xandarian capital. Moving on to Avengers: Age of Ultron, the first appearance of anything in London actually comes from a place that’s supposed to be in South Africa. Weapons dealer Ulysses Klaue’s base of operations is a container ship beached off the coast of that nation, but the interior is actually The Printworks on Clapham Road. As with the Old Vinyl Factory, it’s currently being renovated, so don’t expect to find the same interior you saw in the film. In a connected scene, when the Scarlet Witch makes Captain America hallucinate on the ship, his mind takes him to a dance hall and his former flame, Peggy Carter. The place of Steve’s memories was filmed at the Rivoli Ballroom on Brockley Road.
While Doctor Strange filming has taken place in London, it remains to be seen how much of the city doubles for New York until the film’s release. The production crew cleared the street and brought in New York taxi cabs and cars with NY plates. Wherever they filmed, it will certainly be fun to tell in November. And with Doctor Strange’s release, it can be certain that London hasn’t seen the last of Marvel Studios and its heroes.