Captain America is a Mancunian

For two weeks this September, Captain America – one of the USA’s most patriotic superheroes ever – will become an adopted Mancunian.

Hollywood studio Marvel Productions have chosen Manchester’s fabulous Northern Quarter as the set for the already eagerly anticipated Captain America: The First Avenger because of its resemblance to New York in the early 1900’s.

Those of us based here know all about the area’s hidden beauty of course, we walk through it’s streets daily and one glance above street level is enough to see why it is now so sought after a location for film makers wanting to avoid the huge expense of shooting in the real New York.

The wide streets, tall buildings and pre-war architecture will all be transformed into 1940s America to bring the backdrop to the mass of superhero action scenes, due to be screened in summer next year.

The $200 million blockbuster will be Marvel’s first production outside of the UK but this isn’t the first time the fabulous Northern Quarter has been used by film making giants. Last year the makers of Sherlock Holmes used the area as a way to turn back the clock to London in 1981. And Jude Law’s remake of the classic Alfie movie was made in the same streets, once again masquerading as New York.

It’s fantastic to see Manchester being used as a visual template in blockbuster big screen hits and for the city to reap the rich rewards that the movie industry types will transfer into local accounts when it is in town. But am I the only one who thinks it’s a shame Manchester can’t be marketed as the best version of itself rather than a cheap version of New York?

A wise sage once said: “Immitation is suicide. Be a first class version of yourself and no-one can tell you you’re doing it wrong.”

While these words may have been abused terribly over the years – I saw versions of them appearing on beermats recently – they do hold some truths.

Yes, it is fabulous that Manchester is making money from being the base for a Hollywood movie. It’s also great to see that the Northern Quarter’s beauties are not just appreciated by a local crowd.

But wouldn’t it be great to see a British movie, set in the real Manchester, about Mancunians, where the amazing history and architecture of this place didn’t have to masquerade as American, make the big screens?

So while I welcome the Americans, and they’re Hollywood dollars, wholeheartedly, there are plenty of decent tales about and set in this fantastic city – isn’t it about time we started to proclaim and celebrate our own city’s heritage in celluloid too?

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