Comics Creators

Most unconvincing location doubling


SUperman II/Superman IV - Hertfordshire/Surrey as East Houston and Milton Keynes as Metropolis…
Watching recently Whoops Apocalypse, which brilliant/terribly recreates USA and France in various LWT-region locales, and in the studio.
That Mars cycling ad is clearly filmed in South Africa. The city looks very un-English. You can tell when most ads are set in a strange Mid-Atlantic suburbia. That’s SA.

80s Irwin Allen miniseries the Memory of Eva Ryker uses the Queen Mary at Long Beach to simulate Southampton (motorcyclists Ernie VIgil and NIck “the revolution” Brocha did too Queen Marysploitation short the Stowaways) and like the Thorn Birds, features a very Californian, very rocky, mountaineous Outback - which should be flat as a pancake, and has a terrible Afrikaner-Cockney accent from John ALderson (Wyatt Earp in Doctorr Who and the Gunfighters)

GReen Street 2 - set in a desert prison supposedly in England, with a few Aussie and English actors, eg Martina SIrtis, Treva Etienne, and Aussie Vernon “Wez from MadMax II” Wells.
Killer Elite with Jason Statham has a scene set in the Thames with a sign warning of sharks. It was filmed down under.
Various things have shot in Vancouver - not just doubling for US but UK - that JK Rowling biopic, Stonehenge Apocalypse, movie the MIracle of the Cards which badly uses Gastown as London, though the Magician’s HOuse - a Welsh-Canadian coproduction actually did its best to turn BC into Wales. Some films can be less obviously filmed places, thus convincingly. For example, recently UK-Canadian coproductions have returned, eg Hector and the Search for Happiness, London exteriors yes, but a lot of less obvious Vancouver exterior/studio interiors doubling as UK, and also the partly BC-shot Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.
NIghtmares and Dreamscapes - Crouch End - a Ramsay Street Melbourne suburb badly plays London - complete with ozpost vans and Cockaussie kids.

And the good old Universal backlot has been used as Ireland (Heroes’ Cork, Star Trek Voyager’s Fair Haven, the 80s Twilight Zone’s Killany (sic), Belfast in JAG), Wales (the Wolf Man), London in everything from Basil Rathbone’s Holmes to Columbo to that recent EE Kevin Bacon ad and East Germany in every 80s action series…


Worst of the worst. There’s not a building in county Cork with a ceiling that high. Churches exempt. Worst of the worst indeed.

No, wait - The accent is worse.


it looked like Rome in some shots - the backlot was designed to double up for everywhere - Mexico, Bavaria, etc.
THere’s a film called GRandma’s Blessings with a Cameron Lentshiver and Doug Sebastian and Cirque DU Freak’s Drew Rin Varick - which doubles Georgia as all sort of places.


I think the award should go to using Pittsburgh as Gotham. Chicago yes, but Pittsburgh for the home of the Batman? And all for the silly plot of blowing up the bridges so they’d be isolated? Terrible.


That episode ruined Heroes for me. It was a combination of the buildings and the accent and the armed security guards escorting cash from a bookies (called a Sports Book…did anyone do an iota of research?).



It always really bothered me that in Azz & Corben’s “Banner” book they had the Hulk destroy these huge buildings in Santa Fe, which aren’t at all what the city looks like and wouldn’t even be possible due to zoning laws.

It’s a comic book! Just pick any other city. Pick Albuquerque, pick Denver, pick Phoenix. Come on guys.

Yes I still remember this 10+ years later.


On a slightly different note, there are a few scenes in films that have really thrown me off for their misrepresentation of areas. Episode 3 of season 5 of Girls was shot in Japan, but certain aspects of it (like the fairly spacious home the american character is staying in) would be pretty damned hard to ever find in Tokyo, let alone Japan in general.

Mission Impossible 3’s set in Shanghai had two different locations; the one on the big building was fine, but the other was set in a historic area that’s actually in Suzhou, not Shanghai, and is a preserved historical location that is basically a tourist spot for Chinese people, not a contemporary residential area.

New Seoul in Cloud Atlas looked more like the back alleys of Hong Kong, not anything like the actual architectural vernacular of Seoul updated for a futuristic setting.

Alllllllllll the locations for Korea in Lost were awful. My wife and I literally clutched our stomachs with gut bursting laughter when we saw this tiny brook signed as “Hangang”, the major river that goes through about half of the country, and which bisects Seoul into northern and southern districts. Same for their wedding scene, which looked far more like a Japanese wedding, with Japanese religious architecture.

I could go on. You might notice a theme here.


I think it’s often the case that if you know a location well then you’ll quickly recognise where films have taken liberties with representing the geography of a place.

It’s not quite the same thing, but there are countless examples of chase scenes where characters jump from one location to another in a way that’s completely impossible in real life because the two just aren’t connected. I might notice that for action scenes set in (say) London, Paris, or Dudley, but not in other locations that I don’t know so well.


My sister lived in Hong Kong for many years and often used to find the Western/Hollywood representation of China in particular to be slightly ridiculous. Again, I think it’s that sense that you can take more liberties if it’s a place that the audience largely isn’t going to be familiar with.


This is certainly the prevailing wisdom,but I think the winds have changed, and a lot of that isn’t going to fly anymore. The Korean stuff in Lost was pretty much at the tipping point; though Koreans did criticize the depictions, they were happy enough at the time just to have Koreans in a major US TV production, and actually speaking Korean at that (although Mr. Kim started off with pretty poor pronunciation, he did get better over the course of the series!). Nowadays that wouldn’t really be enough, and they’d piss a lot of people, and it’s only going to become more true over the next decade.

Chase scenes and the like are inherently forgivable, as that’s really just about topography, while a lot of the stuff I mentioned is misrepresentative of cultures themselves, and sometimes in pretty offensive ways (the Korean wedding set was particularly bad in Lost)


I guess it’s maybe the usual fallback on stereotypes and caricatures as shorthand for a particular culture or location, even if it doesn’t reflect the reality. I agree that doesn’t justify it though.

I wonder whether filmmakers will become increasingly sensitive to this kind of stuff as international audiences become more important, especially in east Asia.


I mean, they’d have to, right? Especially re: East Asia, and more particularly China and South Korea, which have been moving themselves into Hollywood in a substantial way over the past two decades.


Let it be noted that it is not possible to run from Blyth staithes to the Blackhall coal conveyor as Michael Caine does at the end of Get Carter. For a start it’s 35 miles and two river crossings.


Spielberg’s ‘Munich’ was set in various countries but not shot in them. The only one that I spotted was London, but I’d be hard pressed to say what was actually wrong?

Something about the buildings, the width of the streets, the height of the curbs etc., it just wasn’t London (it was actually Budapest).

The least successful example though was from a TV series, ‘Nightmares & Dreamscapes’ with an adaption of the Stephen King story ‘Crouch End’. I believe it was shot in Australia, but even if it wasn’t, I’m very sure it WASN’T shot anywhere near the real Crouch End area of London.


I do love a good bit of Croydon in my films. Caught Velvet Goldmine the other day with a shot of Wellesley Road in Croydon with text floating over it saying ‘New York, 1975’ or something.

Dark Knight had some establishing shots set in Croydon too, along with 28 Days Later…


For the Daredevil TV show they rarely shot in Hell’s Kitchen, which is fine as Hell’s Kitchen doesn’t really look like Hell’s Kitchen anymore, but they didn’t even bother to change the street signs in their locations, which kind of annoyed me.


To clarify where i stand on locations; I only get annoyed by doubles that don’t convince me.

There is no Gotham City, there is no Metropolis, they have to be shot somewhere, be it a set or a real city. I also don’t mind if Liverpool doubles for New York or Glasgow for Philadelphia, in fact it’s the kind of thing i think is fun and creative and often a good business decision by the producers.

As long as it works.



I hope the next Batman film sees Bruce Wayne pledging his life to defend a small rural village in Nottinghamshire.


indeed the Crouch End episode was. I believe the old lady who appears at the end was in Prisoner Cell Block H and the old couple at the start in the lift, the wife Marijke Mann was in actually in the Avengers, but the husband - Ron Haddrick was the Q in Aussie kids series/bank holiday filler the Lost Islands.