The Amazing Spiderman


The CTA does NYC: a 6-car train was made up as MTA subway cars for Spiderman 2, including (R) route logos, MTA logos, new destination signs, and new car numbers. This view is at Randolph/Wabash on November 16, 2002. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

A yellow X was taped on the side of one of the cars in the center of the train to act as a mark for the actors to look at as the train passed. One assumes that this is where the action will be added digitally in post-production. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The 2200-series cars got MTA logos next to the doors and under the last window (with the words "New York City Subway") on the left side of the car side, plus new car numbers. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Columbia Pictures was out last week and this past weekend doing extensive shooting on location in Chicago for the Spiderman movie sequel, whose official title is currently The Amazing Spider-Man.

Shooting took place on several downtown streets, as well as on the CTA® Loop elevated. It appears that none of this filming involved the principle actors (Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Kirsten Dunst as love interest Mary Jane Watson, etc.), but rather hundreds of extras in scenes where the main action will be added digitally in post-production. Is the movie taking place in Chicago? No, it seems that Chicago is standing in for New York City in certain scenes. For the "L"TM scenes in specific, the Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that the producers want New York el trains in the film moving through a ''canyon'' of urban skyscrapers, which has not really been possible to shoot in New York City since the Manhattan els were demolished in the years preceding and immediately following World War II. So for those kinds of visuals, Chicago is it!

In terms of story line, media reports indicate that in the sequel Spiderman will battle Doctor Otto Octavius, known in the comics as Doctor Octopus, a brilliant scientist who has mechanical arms fused to his spine in a laboratory accident. Another rumored villain who will be making an appearance is The Lizard, a character whose alter-ego, Dr. Curt Connors, was mentioned in the first film.

Shooting on downtown streets took place on Franklin Street between Madison and Washington Streets earlier in the week. Over the weekend, some shooting was done on Wabash Avenue, under the elevated train structure. On Wabash, a bunch of NYC street signs were put up for scenes under the "L"TM, with Wabash Avenue standing in for 9th Avenue, and Madison and Monroe Streets being 28th and 29th Streets, respectively. (Interestingly, there was at one time a 9th Avenue El in Manhattan and the Bronx. It was the first elevated rapid transit line in the world, dating back to 1867-68. In 1903 it became part of IRT el system. The 9th Ave. El closed on June 12th, 1940 as part of the unification of the New York Subway system, largely replaced by the IND's 8th Avenue Subway.) A large camera was hoisted to the top of a 160 foot crane over Wabash and at the proper signal, numerous taxi cabs parked on the street below scrambled to get out of the way an instant before the camera plunged straight down, only to stop suddenly about five feet above the ground.

As for shooting on the "L"TM, there has actually been some shooting for some time. The weekend of November 9-10, a charter train of Brown Line 3200s was used for exterior shooting around the "L"TM. The cars were rigged with cameras out the front and back doors, and had lots of equipment mounted on the top of the cars (the units were the Brown Line cars that still have the yellow roof racks from the removed pantographs). They also had the side doors left open on one side with several cameras mounted there, probably for filming a platform.

Shooting continued last week. On Thursday, November 14, four 2400-series work motors and flat car S-609 were used for filming scenes on the platforms at Madison/Wabash and Washington/Wells. The train itself was not filmed, but like the Brown Line 3200s, they had the cameras mounted on them used to film the stations and surrounding urban environment. The movie train departed from Harlem Yard at approximately 0900 hours and proceeded to Madison/Wabash on the Inner Loop with the film crew and actors. The train operated around the Inner Loop until filming is completed.

Filming continued on Friday, November 15, but with much more exciting action. On Friday, scenes were filmed on the Inner Loop platform at Madison/Wabash, where the north half of the platform was filled with extras dressed in contemporary clothes, posing as NYC el riders. Some carried copies of the Daily Bugle, the newspaper Peter Parker works for in the film and comic, with a cover story about Spiderman. On the platform, the film crew had most of the CTA® signs covered up with mockups of MTA subway signs. The CTA® system maps were covered with MTA subway maps, the Madison/Wabash station name signs were covered with new station name signs that said "Broadway" (likewise the CTA® symbol signs said "B'way"), and the "Board Here" signs were covered with signs for the R Line and said "(R) Uptown & Queens". (Of course, the R Line is a subway in Manhattan and there is no Broadway station on the R Line...)

For these scenes, the story calls for a NYC subway train to pass on the el. So, how was this accomplished? By disguising a CTA® "L"TM train to stand in! Six 2200-series cars were drawn from the Blue Line and modified to play the part of a NYC MTA rapid transit train. The 2200s were given MTA logos next to the doors and under the last side windows on the left side of each car, new car numbers over the 2200 car numbers, front and rear destination signs that said "Forest Hills" (the actual terminal of the R Line; the side signs were blank), and a black film over the front right window with an "(R)" logo (to mimic the front of most MTA trains). Although to the trained eye of a railfan it clearly wasn't an MTA subway car, but it didn't look too shabby: The 2200s are definitely the CTA's® most NYC-looking cars. They kind of looked vaguely like the R32s (which were also built by Budd) and R38s, though mostly just because of the stainless steel fluting. (It would have been even more helpful -- and kinda cool -- if they'd put some of those swinging gates that are on the front of NYC subway cars on the 2200s...) Some of the car numbers actually corresponded with R32s, but others were the same as those on the R68s, which the 2200s don't particularly resemble.

Director Sam Raimi was present to choreograph and facilitate the action, which is unusual for a scene that doesn't involve any principle actors (this is often left to first unit and second unit directors). It would seem that he is either a very hands-on director, this is an important scene in the movie, or both. The scene apparently involves a battle on the train, which is running out-of-control on the el. When the train passed Madison/Wabash, all the extras on the platform were supposed to jump back from the edge of the platform, then look and point in wonder as it sped off in the distance. A seemingly simple thing, they were doing it for hours! According to some of the crew members at the station, the shooting was for a climactic battle on the exterior of the el train between Spiderman and villain Doctor Octopus, who would be added in digitally in post production.

On Saturday, the movie train departed from Rosemont Yard at approximately 0900 hours and upon arrival at Tower 18 was routed train onto the Inner Loop to film at Madison and circle around. The movie train operated around the Inner Loop until filming was completed, around 1600 hours. After filming was completed, the movie train laid-up at Harlem Yard.

They were shooting again Saturday, November 16, but none of the stations were made up for that day's shooting. The train was running around the Inner Loop, though, so maybe they were shooting on board. The sic-car train of mocked-up 2200s was again in action, departing from Harlem Yard at approximately 0700 hours. Again, the train circled the Inner Loop all morning, until midday when it was laid up during lunch on the 14th Street Middle Track. After lunch, the train was scene running on the Outer Loop track. Upon completion, the movie was to be laid up at Harlem Yard. Filming was also scheduled for Sunday, November 17 from 0700 to 1800 hours.

The Amazing Spider-Man is a Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures production and is currently scheduled for release in May 2004. [Sources: CTA, Chicago Sun-Times,, Internet Movie Database]

(All clips and pictures are © 2004 Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures)


Madison/Wabash station was fixed up to stand in as the fictional "Broadway" station on the R Line el (also fictional) for Spiderman 2. This view looks northwest at the Inner Loop platform on November 16, 2002. For a larger view, click here. (Photos by Graham Garfield)

Wabash Avenue received new signs and other set pieces on November 16, 2002 to become Ninth Avenue for the filming of Spiderman 2. For a larger view, click here. (Photos by Graham Garfield)


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