Cleveland on Film
As an Ohio transplant, the first time I went to the Cleveland-Hopkins airport and collected my baggage, I was surprised to see Superman staring back at me. I learned there’s a good reason the Man of Steel has a permanent place greeting visitors to C-Town.
Back in 1933, a couple of Cleveland high schoolers, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, came up with the idea of Superman. They eventually sold the rights to their creation to DC Comics, and Cleveland became intertwined with the world of superheroes.
Maybe that’s part of the reason Cleveland has become the backdrop in some of Hollywood’s biggest action blockbusters, like The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Solider, and the upcoming Vin Diesel flick, The Fate of the Furious; our town has a built-in, action-hero vibe.
Cleveland’s recent rise to superhero stardom was ushered in with The Avengers, which hit theaters in May of 2012. It was hard to miss the city being trashed by the demon-looking Chitauri as The Hulk, Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor and the rest of the Avengers gang battled aliens that kept ramming through East 9th and crashing into parts of Walnut and Euclid Avenue.
My favorite part, though, came earlier in the movie when Tower City was the stand-in for an opera house in Stuttgart, Germany. Remember the scene where the ever-evil, but oh-so-enamoring Loki, brother to Thor, made all the people bend to his will, courtesy of his tesseract-powered staff?
Well, that wasn’t Germany. It was Tower City.
And the interior of the opera house? That wasn’t in Stuttgart, either. Those were shot right inside nearby Lakeside Courthouse.
Cleveland made its way into another Avengers film courtesy of Captain America: The Winter Solider, released in April 2014. I couldn’t help but notice one of my go-to spots ended up as the hangout of Hydra agents (i.e. the ultra-secret organization out to get Steve Rogers).
Of course, the film crews are long gone, still it’s not hard to imagine how the Cleveland Museum of Art’s expansive atrium could serve as the bad-guy headquarters. My kids and I talked about our favorite scenes from the movie while taking turns sharing a dense, salted caramel brownie from the café there (I’d highly recommend doing the same; the cashier told me their pastry chef is from The Ritz).
Cleveland’s next turn on the big screen comes April 14th with the opening of Fate of the Furious the latest in the now 8-film franchise. I can’t get enough of these car-chase-filled movies that feature seemingly impossible stunts with cars flying into yachts (that’d be movie no. 2) or right through buildings (movie no. 7).
We spent a day in the city recently trying to track down the rumored spots for some big crash scenes. Hints from the trailer seem to show that Euclid Avenue, Perk Plaza and JACK Cleveland Casino will make the cut. We’ll see once the movie officially hits theaters.
I channeled Dom (Vin Diesel’s character in the Fast and the Furious franchise) to figure out where to each lunch while we were out. My thought? A sandwich from the Cleveland Pickle at the corner of Euclid and East 9th Street. Dom’s sure to crash a car somewhere near there. And as far as what kind of sandwich he might have? I’d say the Clevelander, filled with genoa salami and roasted garlic mayo. My pick for our outing, though, was the East-Sider. Who can resist caramelized bacon?!
So while it may be nearly impossible to ever snatch a selfie with Iron Man or Dwayne Johnson, you can get a shot with Hollywood’s other big star – Cleveland – anytime.