The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) shows no signs of running out of power. With Phase 4 well underway, it's expanding into new realms, exploring the back-stories of favourite characters, revealing new ones, and even opening up new universes.
Although the films are spun like spidey-thread from American comic books, many were shot in the UK. Here, then, are all the London scenes from MCU movies (and TV shows; though, to date, none have featured London in any meaningful way).
WARNING: Contains multiple spoilers.
The first set of Marvel Cinematic Universe films pays little heed to London. Iron Man (2008), the Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011) and Avengers Assemble (2012) were largely shot and set in the Americas (Thor's interplanetary exploits notwithstanding). Even so, London did get a Hulk waxwork at Madame Tussauds — supposedly the largest figure ever created by the attraction.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Ironically, it's the all-American hero who first visits our shores. Much of the action was filmed in the UK, including scenes with Liverpool and Manchester masquerading as Brooklyn. London appears on several occasions. The scene where the unembeefened Steve Rogers watches a cinema newsreel was shot in Hackney Empire. The cringeworthy scene where Cap takes to the stage with dancing girls was also filmed in the east London venue.
Two other London locations feature. King Charles Street, above the Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall, makes a brief and accurate appearance as an Allied HQ. Meanwhile, did you recognise the traditional boozer called the Whip and Fiddle?
This is Crocker's Folly, an old hotel-cum-pub in Maida Vale. It was closed at the time of filming but has since reopened as a top-notch restaurant.
The second phase of movies saw the franchise go global. Iron Man 3 (2013) and Captain America Winter Soldier (2014) don't offer much London action, but then...
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Of all the Marvel films, the first Thor sequel spends the most memorable times in London. The muscle-bound marauder even catches the tube.
Astute viewers — and even stupid ones — will immediately note that he catches the Jubilee line from Charing Cross, something that hasn't been possible this century. The bulky deity alights at Greenwich — not the inconvenient North Greenwich station, but a fictional stop beside the Royal Naval College.
Here, at the centre of time and space, all hell breaks loose as baddy Malekith eases his obsidian spaceship into a restricted parking space on the college's lawns.
Beside these two landmark scenes, the capital appears any number of times throughout the film. No prizes for spotting the OXO Tower restaurant as the scene of Jane's (Natalie Portman) disastrous date. Nor for identifying the top of the Gherkin, which features as one of the locations of Thor and Malekith's silly interdimensional battle. More kudos if, however, you knew that the portal-in-a-warehouse was filmed in the Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, west London. Or that Dr Selvig's institution was really Blythe House in Kensington — a grand old museum storage facility.
Finally, the film's end-of-credits scene sees Jane and Thor snogging away on her Southwark balcony, with a half-built Walkie-Talkie building in the background. How romantic.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Given that the Earth only features in the opening scenes, you'd be forgiven for guessing that this is another film with no hint of London about it. You'd be wrong. The planet of Xandar is largely a digital construction, but the eagle-eyed will note several London buildings in the mix, including the Millennium Bridge and the Lloyd's Building.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
The second Avengers film was mostly shot at Shepperton Studios, and so features many locations from London masquerading as other places. The fun starts when Scarlet Witch casts visions onto several of the Avengers. Captain America's takes place inside the Rivoli Ballroom in Crofton Park, Lewisham — a neat follow on to Cap's turn at the Hackney Empire in his debut film. Meanwhile, Thor finds himself in a debauched party filled with people from his own world. But this isn't Asgard, it's the interior of St Bartholomew the Great church in Smithfield.
Then things get really weird. Remember the Johannesburg punch-up between Hulk and Iron Man? The one with the Hulk-buster armour? That's not South Africa, but Brent Civic Centre, Wembley, of all places.
The action then decamps a little down the road to an equally unlikely location: Hendon Police College. The Battle of Sokovia was largely filmed among the tower blocks and open squares of this outer-London police academy.
Finally, the film ends with shots of the new Avengers Facility. Supposedly located in upstate New York, it was also shot in the UK. Exteriors were done at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. But the slick interiors were mostly at ExCeL London. Here's our recreation of a scene involving Nick Fury.
Slimmer pickings in the third wave of movies... until Spider-man: Far From Home.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
London sort-of appears in this patchy sequel, when Cap flies in to attend Peggy Carter's funeral. Alas, the service was filmed in Atlanta rather than one of our own churches.
Doctor Strange (2016)
This Benedict Cumberbatch-led film features a clever nod or two to Sherlock, his most famous role. There's Doctor Strange's high collar, of course, but did you notice the location of the sole London scene in the movie? The opening battle between Kaescilius and The Ancient One takes place in Great Scotland Yard — not only the traditional home of the Metropolitan Police, but also directly opposite the Sherlock Holmes pub. That has to be intentional, right? London is later revealed as the location of a Sanctum, one of three locations protecting the Earth from interdimensional baddies.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Another one shot in the USA, without a nod to London. Mysteriously, though, Amazon Video's streaming site used a very Londony image to promote the film. Anyone know why?
Black Panther (2018)
Many films on this list are shot in London while set elsewhere, Black Panther flips that formula. There's a short sequence set at the fictional Museum of Great Britain — in London — but the crew never set foot in Blighty. Instead it was shot at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
In the movie the museum is a blatant stand-in for the British Museum, but why the switcheroo? Perhaps the British Museum didn't want to be featured as plundering African artefacts, as in this film. More likely is that production took place Stateside, and it wasn't worth the cost of coming to London to film a short sequence.
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
The final instalment in the Infinity Saga is perhaps the most Londony Marvel movie ever made. Most of the third act is set in our town, with major scenes in St Pancras, the Shard, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London — and with a cameo from Millennium Mills. The film is so drenched in London, that we've devoted a whole article to the subject.
Besides all the obvious London eye-candy, look out for an East London cameo when Peter runs into Nick Fury in Berlin. The local train station is a dead-ringer for West Silvertown DLR station.
With the Infinity Saga over, and several of our heroes dead or retired, the MCU spins off in all kinds of new directions for its fourth phase, weaving in multiple TV series as well as new films. Sadly, so far, those directions have rarely taken them to London... with one exception.
This ensemble piece not only draws on plenty of British talent (Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kit Harrington...), but also places significant chunks of the film in London. The introductory scenes, in particular, are a Londonophile's dream. There's the obligatory establishing shot of Piccadilly Circus. Then it's over to the Natural History Museum with a long, lingering pan over Darwin's statue, as though to provoke thoughts of evolution and deep time (while Pink Floyd's Time plays in the background. Subtle, this ain't).
(And speaking of time, viewers with small kids might spot Andy's clock in the background.)
But the real joy here is the Camden Market scenes, in which Sersi (Chan) and Ikaris (Madden) smash the heck out of the high street while dealing with a baddy monster thing. The creature is eventually catapulted into the Regent's Canal, from whence, we'd advise, it should not lick its wounds.
The Eternals spend most of the rest of the film globetrotting, but Sersi briefly returns for the ending. This sees her up on Parliament Hill with Harrington's character (Game of Thrones fans grin knowingly as "John Snow" repeats Sersi's name, as they talk about the fate of "Rob Stark"). Like so many of us on Parliament Hill, the pair admire the view of London, which is briefly interrupted by a ladybird-headed god thing. His enormous mass seems to have no effect on local gravitational conditions for some reason. Otherwise, this is entirely realistic.
The god thing, by the way, is called Arishem. Londoners can have a lot of fun watching Eternals by pretending the characters are saying "Amersham" every time they say "Arishem". Well, I did anyway.
Moon Knight (2022)
The hit-and-miss series starring Oscar Isaacs is ostensibly set in London for its first two episodes. We get flashes of the Tower of London, Mansion House, Vauxhall station and a very persistent 25 bus. Sadly, none of the scenes featuring the principals were actually filmed here, and most of the shots are either subterfuge or green screen. We explored the first two episodes in more detail in a separate article.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
Doctor S travels far and wide in this mind-bending sequel, hopping through the multiverse in an inter-dimensional hopscotch. His adventures never take him to London proper, but that's not to say that our city doesn't make an appearance. The scenes leading up to Strange's pivotal meeting with the Illuminati were filmed inside the Great Court of the British Museum. Those impressive exhibits are not there in real life, nor is the background tower. Note, this is not intended to be an alternative universe British Museum — an establishing shot places the Illuminati HQ in Central Park, New York City.
This is the third time a pseudo-British Museum has appeared in the MCU, following the Museum of Great Britain in Black Panther, and the BM-National Gallery hybrid from Moon Knight.
We will update this article as further instalments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are released.