ByDavid Opie, writer at
Editor @DavidOpie / [email protected] Still waiting for a Marvel Zombies Ghibli movie directed by Xavier Dolan...
David Opie

Since the production of Spider-Man: Homecoming moved to New York City, cast and crew alike have shared a number of set photos that depict the Webcrawler's spiritual home.

Recently, Homecoming star Tom Holland provided Webheads with our best look yet at his new Spider-Man suit, along with the caption;

Much of the emphasis has been placed on Homecoming's primary location, New York City — and rightly so, as the vast majority of Spider-Man's adventures take place in the Big Apple. However, the Wallcrawler's not the only one who calls New York his home though.

The City That Never Sleeps is also defended by the likes of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four and the Defenders, just to name a few, which begs the question: Why is New York City so important to the Marvel Universe? And why the hell don't aspiring super villains just hop on over to Boston and wreak some carnage there instead?

New York City Is Integral To The Identity Of Marvel's Heroes

While some of Marvel's heroes are based outside of New York City (including the X-Men, whose school is located in Westchester), the vast majority live in the Big Apple. This is presumably because that's where Marvel itself is based — as a result, NYC is inherently a part of these characters' DNA.

During the airport scene in Captain America: Civil War, Cap and Spidey bond at a pivotal moment, not over their shared desire to protect the innocent, but over where they're from.

Captain America: You got heart, kid. Where are you from?

Spider-Man: Queens!

Captain America: Brooklyn!

Luke Cage is also linked inextricably to his home in New York City's famous district, Harlem, which will come to the fore in his solo venture for Netflix. The area's cultural identity is embodied through both the music and social issues explored within each episode of the first season and will continue to play a pivotal role in Luke Cage's future appearances.

Fellow Defender Matt Murdock operates close by in Hell's Kitchen, another district of New York City that's become infamous thanks to Daredevil's exploits in both comics and TV. More than perhaps any other hero, Daredevil is forever bound to his local turf, to the point where his actual name is derived from the area of Hell's Kitchen.

Marvel Wanted To Differentiate Themselves From Their Distinguished Competition

Batman in Gotham City [Via DC Comics]
Batman in Gotham City [Via DC Comics]

When DC first rose to popularity in the '40s, the publisher decided to create new cities for their heroes by combining the best aspects of existing locations. Superman fought crime in Metropolis, a city that drew upon elements of Los Angeles and Chicago, while Batman defended the innocent in Gotham, which was inspired in part by the darker aspects of New York City.

This creative decision provided DC with more flexibility in their story lines, enabling comic book writers to vent their destructive tendencies as much as they damn well pleased. Want to blow up Star City? Sure thing. Feel like killing off 90% of Blüdhaven? Why the hell not?!

Check out 10 times Spider-Man didn't let that happen to New York City:

In contrast, Marvel made a conscientious decision early on to set their stories in real locations, to set themselves apart from the likes of DC. While this could have restricted the publisher's creativity in some ways, forcing them to adhere to real-life events, this approach actually worked in Marvel's favor, allowing writers to explore current issues in a more relevant way.

Stan Lee Wanted Readers To Relate To Marvel's Heroes

When Stan Lee began to create Marvel's most iconic heroes, it was important to him that these characters faced relatable problems in real life contexts. Every time that Spider-Man found himself running late for school or didn't have enough money to spend on his date, readers understood these dilemmas and subsequently engaged more with Marvel's stories.

[Via Marvel Comics]
[Via Marvel Comics]

The decision to ground Marvel's comics in the real world was a natural consequence of this, providing readers with the chance to actually visit the locations that their favorite heroes defended from the likes of Kingpin and the Vulture. These days, fans can attend walking tours of the real addresses found in Marvel's comics, including Avengers Mansion on Fifth Avenue, which was inspired by a real place called the Frick Museum that still stands today.

The most powerful example of readers relating to Marvel's real world locations occurred in The Amazing Spider-Man #36, where the aftermath of 9/11 and its effects on the citizens of New York City were explored in tragic detail.

[Via Marvel Comics]
[Via Marvel Comics]

As superheroes like Parker and the Avengers began to aid the rescue efforts, the masses cried out in pain, asking where their heroes were when they needed them most. Even Marvel's villains decide to pitch in and help, revealing how everyone was affected in a way that's almost impossible to fathom.

[Via Marvel Comics]
[Via Marvel Comics]

See also:

While New York may just seem like another random backdrop for our friendly neighborhood heroes, the city is actually integral to the Marvel Universe at large, and it's impossible to imagine the likes of Spidey in any other place on Earth. Check out Peter next crawling over the Big Apple in Spider-Man: Homecoming, which swings into cinemas on July 7, 2017.


Should comics explore real-life events such as 9/11?

Banner image via sahinduezguen


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