The Rivalry Issue: And Action | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Rivalry Issue: And Action

Both Pittsburgh and Cleveland have seen major motion pictures shot on city streets, but which ones are better?

Pittsburgh’s Night of the Living Dead
Pittsburgh’s Night of the Living Dead


Both Cleveland and Pittsburgh have played prominent roles in major superhero movie franchises. Significant portions of both The Avengers and Captain America: Winter Soldier were shot in Cleveland. Pittsburgh was converted to Gotham for the The Dark Knight Rises. Cleveland, with its verdant landscape and rich architectural diversity, was converted to Stuttgart, Germany, Washington, D.C. and New York City for the films. Pittsburgh was just sort of a droopy dimestore Chicago that everyone preferred in The Dark Knight. Cleveland has bent over backwards for the film industry — you could argue almost too much so, what with the closure of the Shoreway for Winter Soldier — but our city is obviously much nicer and more photogenic: All the best scenes from Dark Knight Rises took place underground.    


There is more to a city’s film scene than simply subbing in for a fake comic-book town. Pittsburgh has movies actually set in Pittsburgh, a character in itself. Like Flashdance: She’s a welder by day, stripper by night, and a ballerina at heart; there is no greater Rust Belt queen. For eggheads, we got Wonder Boys: With great universities come rumpled professors and wine parties. Other brains come serious — Concussion asks how do you tell a football town that the sport is killing its heroes? — or for dinner in the genre-defining Night of the Living Dead. Striking Distance is a cheesy cop actioner set on — ahem — three rivers. Oh, and Sudden Death, because Pittsburgh has a hockey team.

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