marvel cinematic universe

Which Cities Are Still Standing in the MCU?

A peculiar method of draining the swamp in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Photo: Marvel Studios

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a decade-long series about visiting some of the most famous cities in the world, and then ruining them. This week’s Spider-Man: Far From Home makes this subtext explicit for the first time. After coming back from the dead (long story), Peter Parker just wants to enjoy a European vacation with his school pals, but as they travel to picturesque international locales, each of them is ravaged by an “Elemental,” a monster from the Earth’s core: Venice is nearly swept away by a baddie made of water, Prague by a fire beast, and London by a living tornado. It’s enough to make you wonder: More than 20 films in, is there any major city on Earth still standing in these movies? To find out, let’s run down the metro areas that have already been destroyed. (We’ve restricted this list to Earth cities only.)

Cities That Have Been Destroyed in the MCU

New York City
The MCU loves New York, but they’re bringing it down anyway. The first Avengers movie destroyed so much of midtown that the entire first season of Daredevil was devoted to examining how the city was digging itself out of the wreckage. (Through corruption and gentrification, naturally.) The Five Boroughs have seen additional dustups in the films since, most recently a downtown smashup near Bleecker Street in Infinity War. If only there was a heroic small-business owner around to clean up the mess.

Washington, D.C.
Remember that period when it seemed like every Marvel film had a climax where the heroes were trapped on a gigantic thing that was falling from the sky? In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there was that flotilla of airborne gunships, all of which eventually crashed into the Potomac between D.C. and Northern Virginia, causing destruction that was still visible years later in Spider-Man: Homecoming. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Homecoming saw the elevator break at the Washington Monument!

The opening sequence of Captain America: Civil War saw large swaths of the Nigerian metropolis shot up, exploded, and menaced with poison gas. As a further insult, the movie pronounced it “Lah-gos.”

The rare city to fall victim to non-superpowered violence, Vienna saw its U.N. facility blown up by a terrorist bomb in Civil War. As another fire in a former imperial capital, the explosion was quickly pinned on politically undesirable elements. That’s the wurst.

In a nod to the work of the late, great Warren Zevon, South Africa’s largest city was smashed by a mind-controlled Hulk early in Age of Ultron.

Tower Bridge falling down in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Photo: Marvel

Even before Far From Home, London was a popular location for superheroic mischief: Doctor Strange bent the Georgian architecture of Westminster into kaleidoscopic fractals, and the final battle in Thor: The Dark World caused major havoc at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, of all places. (Luckily, that’s in Zone 2, so Thor’s Travelcard still worked.)

Seoul and Busan
When they need to stage a destructive second-act car chase, the MCU prefers to head to South Korea, where the events of Age of Ultron and Black Panther undoubtedly caused traffic problems for months afterward.

In an unusual turn of events for Edinburgh, Infinity War saw the Scottish capital terrorized not by drunken groomsmen wearing tutus, but by two aliens trying to steal a robot’s forehead piercing.

As if the Romanian people hadn’t suffered enough, the destructive second-act chase scene in Captain America: Civil War tore up a quiet residential block, and exploded a key underpass (though in a rare stroke of good luck, that underpass was actually in Berlin).

San Francisco
Thanks to the small scale of the Ant-Man movies, San Francisco has escaped total destruction, though the films’ loopy action sequences have surely caused a fair amount of psychological disruption for residents of the Bay Area: The streets are scarred by the sudden appearance of massive Pez dispensers, and the tendency of buildings to straight-up disappear is undoubtedly wreaking havoc on what’s already a screwy real-estate market.

Los Angeles
As seen in Captain Marvel, in 1996 L.A. got caught in the middle of the Kree-Skrull conflict, with dire results for the city’s light-rail system. Had it been able to escape unscathed, the future of public transit in Los Angeles might have been completely different.

It wasn’t quite destroyed, but after Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash absolutely ruined the Grand Prix in Iron Man 2, you’ve gotta figure they raised a ton of charitable donations anyway.

Hong Kong
The Cantonese city-state was consumed by the Dark Dimension at the climax of Doctor Strange, but thanks to the good doctor’s use of the Time Stone to reverse it, nobody noticed.

Novi Grad and Birnin Zana
The respective capital cities of Sokovia and Wakanda were heavily damaged in Age of Ultron and Black Panther, but they’re not real, so.

Wow, that’s a lot! So, which cities are still standing? I’ve collected a list, which you can find below:

Cities That Have Not Yet Been Destroyed in the MCU

Perhaps sensing that another franchise owns the destruction of this particular city, the MCU has steered clear of wrecking the Japanese capital, though it did get a brief cameo in Endgame.

One more thing the Marvel Cinematic Universe has in common with Lauren Conrad: They didn’t go to Paris.

Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai
Mainland China remains almost entirely untouched in the MCU, for reasons that I’m sure have absolutely nothing to do with international politics.

Before he was an Oscar-adjacent filmmaker, Bradley Cooper was using his Hollywood clout to get movies made in his hometown, even if they sometimes had to pretend to be New York. Now that the Creed and National Treasure franchises have moved on, it’s time for him to do it again. I want to see Rocket Raccoon destroying Boathouse Row!

This is what happens when D.C. gets to Ben Affleck first.

As Gertrude Stein famously observed of her childhood neighborhood in Oakland, “there’s no there there.” Which probably explains why the Avengers have yet to blow it up; you know Steve Rogers was a fan.

Until the day that Rampage is revealed as an origin story for Gorilla-Man, Chicago remains the largest city in America to remain unscathed in the MCU.

As the birthplace of Marvel house directors Joe and Anthony Russo, Cleveland has received more than its fair share of shout-outs in the MCU, but its moment in the spotlight has yet to come.

When Marvel movies start taking place in South Beach, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, you’ll know the MCU is on its last legs.

Weirdly enough, Atlanta has played every city in the MCU except itself.

Why let Greta Gerwig have all the fun?

Which Cities Are Still Standing in the MCU?