Like a whole lot of people, I saw Captain America: The Winter Solider over the weekend, and I loved it. Most of the movie is set in Washington DC, and I lived in the area from 1979-1998 (my home is about an hour away now, but I still work in DC). So I couldn’t help but notice little details about the version of the city portrayed in the film (SPOILERS AHEAD!).
Evidently, it’s spring in the movie. The trees on the National Mall are nice and green, but it doesn’t look ferociously hot, like it gets in summer (when Nick Fury would have been glad to hear that the AC in his vehicle is 100% operational).
Indeed, the DC scenes were filmed in the middle of May, 2013. That’s a great time of year (weather-wise) to be in Washington, and though there are tourists, not nearly as many as there are in the summer.
The ambush on Nick Fury shouldn’t have fooled him… As the director of an intelligence agency (and probably a long-time area resident), Nick Fury should have known something was up when a DC Metro police car with two “officers” pulled up next to him. First off, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a DC police car with two officers in it: I’ve always seen just one in each.
Secondly, both “officers” (actually HYDRA agents) were white, as are all of the other “officers” also in on the attack. If racial characteristics for the Metro police mirror those of the city (which I have no reason to doubt that they do), then easily half of the “officers” should have been African-American (if, that is, they wanted to better impersonate real DC officers).
…but the ambush sure fooled me. In the sense that I could have sworn that I have driven on those streets in DC where the attack was supposed to have been. Watching it, I was certain that I knew exactly where those real-life locations were, and I thought I recognized landmarks. Nope! Turns out, those scenes were actually filmed in Cleveland, but the filmmakers took great pains to make it look like downtown DC. And they did a great job!
Similarly, I could have sworn that the scene where the Winter Soldier and his HYDRA henchmen attack Cap, Black Widow, and the Falcon while they are driving was shot on I-695, Southeast Freeway, near where I work. But I’m wrong: Cleveland again.
One thing I KNOW I’m right about is that in the scene at night when Cap comes home on his motorcycle, he’s breaking DC law because he’s not wearing a helmet. Helmets are mandatory in Virginia and Maryland, too. As to where in DC Cap supposedly lives, I couldn’t tell from the exterior shots.
The filmmakers got it right when they put the fictional Triskelion building (S.H.I.E.L.D.’s headquarters) across the Potomac River in Virginia, as no building in DC is allowed to be taller than the Washington Monument. At one point, Falcon mentions that he’s on the 41st floor of the Triskelion, and we can determine that he’s not at the top of the building, so that must be a very tall structure by area standards. Most of the buildings in DC, even the tallest ones, don’t have nearly so many floors.
Just as with the bogus “officers,” the movie drops the ball by presenting almost all of the S.H.I.E.L.D. staff at the Triskelion as white. The U.S. Government prides itself on diversity in its workforce, and having been a Fed for 15 years for three different agencies, I cannot imagine that S.H.I.E.L.D. would not also be similarly diverse.
At the climax of the movie, I didn’t notice how S.H.I.E.L.D. managed to keep their hangars—built under the Potomac River—from flooding when they opened them, but I am glad that when the rogue Helicarriers crashed, they didn’t do so on heavily-populated Southwest DC or Northern Virginia. One hits the Triskelion, and the other two apparently plunge into the Potomac.
As it goes past DC, the river is about half a mile wide and I don’t know how deep: it’s probably pretty shallow, I imagine. It seems to me unlikely that anything analogous to an aircraft carrier—much less two or three somethings—is going to conveniently sink there. Rush-hour traffic from DC to Virginia is always bad: it must really have sucked that day, what with people rubbernecking at the sight of three giant crashed aircraft.
Quibbles about locations aside, it was a great movie, and I’m eagerly looking forward to the next Captain America film…as well as Avengers: Age of Ultron.