‘Batman v Superman’ puts Detroit on the big screen

Adam Graham
The Detroit News
Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) exits his vehicle during an attack on Metropolis filmed on Fort in downtown Detroit.

Batman and Superman get top billing, but Detroit also is a star in the superhero smackdown “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Director Zack Snyder’s showdown between the two comic icons was filmed in and around Detroit in 2014, and Metro Detroiters can finally see the Motor City — cast as both Metropolis and Gotham City — on the big screen.

The film spent around $131 million filming in Michigan, the final major movie project in the state before Michigan’s film tax incentives dried up. (The production received a reported $35 million in incentives, according to the Michigan Film Office.)

Along with local landmarks, a few faces that are familiar to Detroiters show up in the film — along with Batman (Ben Affleck, debuting in the role of the Caped Crusader), Superman (Henry Cavill, returning to the role he originated in 2013’s “Man of Steel), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and more.

Here are some points of local interest to look for during the heavyweight title bout:

Ben Affleck films a scene from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in downtown Detroit on Aug 9, 2014.

Downtown Detroit cast as Metropolis: Very early in the film, just after a prologue shows us the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents (his parents were killed? You don’t say!), downtown Detroit is the backdrop as Superman fights alien forces above the city and Ben Affleck’s Wayne watches on from the street. Wayne is seen zipping around the city near the intersection of Congress and Washington Boulevard, and he is among a mass of people gathered on Fortbetween Griswold and Shelby watching buildings crumble into rubble. (The current offices of The Detroit News, at 160 W. Fort, can be seen, although The News had not yet moved into the building when filming took place in 2014.) Also clearly visible is the Comerica branch at 201 W. Fort.

Michigan Central Station hosts a title fight: The hulking Corktown building, which also has played host to several Michael Bay productions (including “The Island” and several “Transformers” films), is seen throughout the big battle between the film’s two marquee stars. The rooftop and dilapidated lobby are in a state of disrepair that reads quite well on screen.

The Russell Industrial Center can be seen in glimpses during a shadowy chase scene involving the Batmobile.

Russell Industrial Center gets a visit from the Batmobile: The exterior of the Midtown complex, located where Interstate 75 meets I-94, can be seen in glimpses during a shadowy chase scene involving the Batmobile.

An underpass on Vernor Highway beneath the train tracks behind the Michigan Central Station is in the movie.

Vernor Highway underpass hosts a chase: During the same chase scene were the Batmobile visits the Russell, the Bat vehicle can be seen speeding through the underpass on Vernor Highway near Newark, underneath the train tracks behind Michigan Central Station.

Martha Kent (Diane Lane) works in Ralli’s Diner. Some of her scenes there were filmed at the Hygrade Deli in Detroit.

Hygrade Deli gets a facelift: The longstanding diner, on Michigan just outside of Corktown, appears in the movie as Ralli’s Diner, which is where Clark Kent’s mother, Martha (Diane Lane), serves customers.

Batmobile heads to Marathon: During an extended chase sequence, Batman drives his Batmobile through the Marathon oil refinery, along I-75 in Detroit near the Rouge River — fitting, since every time we drive by the plant at night it reminds us of Gotham City.

Familiar faces in the crowd: Keep an eye peeled for WNIC-FM (100.3) host and Fox 2 news anchor Jay Towers, who plays a TV reporter in one scene, and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, who plays a party guest during a scene where Lex Luthor (Eisenberg) gives a disorienting speech.


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