Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.
“Hulk not pleased with Sam’s closing down!” (Yes, all captions will be in Hulkese.)
With the world economy spiralling out of control, it’s nice to know there are some things you can count on, like Marvel putting together a kick-ass Avengers movie. That ambitious effort couldn’t happen without the surprisingly good Incredible Hulk, and that quite clearly could not have happened without our beloved Toronto.
It was a big shoot we followed closely, right through to the trailer. Now it’s time to look at the real thing.
“Hulk appreciate neo-gothic architecture in background!”
Aside from a darned cool opening segment shot in Brazil and a few pick-up shots, most of the filming was done around Toronto. It shows, particularly at two key locations.
Fictional “Culver University” is darned obviously a U of T lovefest. Not since PCU have we had so much fun spotting familiar places. They shot all around the front campus so you get to see University College, Convocation Hall, and the Med-Sci Building. The heroic Bruce Banner even disguises himself as a pizza guy and cycles past the Sir Daniel Wilson residence. But of particular note is Knox College.
“Hulk not going to fail Presbyterian studies!”
Also seen in everything from Cocktail to Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Knox gets to host a variety of scenes including a Lou Ferrigno cameo and a particularly cool Hulk-out in its quad.
“Hulk not like trying to trick unobservant movie-goers.”
What might slip your attention, however, is the double dipping. At the end of the flick, our heroes visit Mr. Blue’s Columbia University lab and, lo and behold, it’s Convocation Hall again! But, like, at night! The interiors seem to be from the nearby Koffler Centre, however.
“Hulk upset that, as a CGI creation, he couldn’t hit head shops!”
The second big, unmistakable location is Yonge Street south of Gerrard. Even when the trailer first came out we noted how it didn’t quite look like Harlem, what with Zanzibar, Remington’s, The Big Slice, and our dear departed Sam the Record Man all on display.
But, as the Cat in the Hat said, that is not all. Oh, no that is not all.
The early warehouse fight where you almost see Hulk the first time wasn’t shot in Brazil so much as, um, Hamilton. (Some finale shots were grabbed there too. You can even see some YouTube coolness here.)
“Hulk impressed by Canadian military might.”
These air force base scenes were done at CFB Trenton.
“Hulk like Scarborough, but not being shot at.”
When the Hulk runs off the Culver campus, he ends up in Morningside Park.
“Hulk not wait for Olympic redevelopment to get some lovin’.”
This romantic scene, where Bruce Banner and his beloved Betsy Ross make kissyface, was filmed on the Cherry Street bridge.
“Hulk not like how poor planning choices cut Torontonians off from the lake that is font of history.”
And, shiver our timbers! Is that a New Jersey highway or is it our own picturesque Gardiner Expressway? Yup, they’re on Lakeshore Drive, not far from Cherry Street.
“Hulk worried about how economic crisis will affect places in Toronto that look like they could be in Manhattan.”
Eventually, they get to New York—and they did film a few scenes there. But when the characters get in a cab and then get out, they find themselves outside Commerce Court. Movie magic.
Those who know their Marvel lore and their Toronto trivia know that this is one of the coolest Toronto institutions on display. Actor Paul Soles plays the owner of Stanley’s Pizza (named after “Stan Lee,” presumably). While he has done a tonne of stuff over the years, he served as the voice of Peter Parker/Spider-Man on the animated series we all grew up with (yeah, you’re singing that theme right now). And if you knew that without being told….Nerd Alert!