Perhaps I’m a bit biased. Maybe my love for Minneapolis and my love for Superman possibly combing is swaying my opinion. Maybe that’s a good thing though?
When DC Studios’ Co-Chairmen and CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran announced plans for “Superman: Legacy” last year, I knew I needed to pitch my preference for Metropolis publicly.
Superman’s home base, Metropolis, is a forward thinking city with problems hidden beneath its towering and ambitious appearance. I love the stories that such an urban utopia is capable of spawning.
I was so in love with the fictional city that I built a scale model in my back yard. I moved to Minneapolis strictly because of its startling similarities. Metropolis is a modern municipality filled to the brim with culture, history, diversity and so much more.
Like many DC Comics fans, I’ve always felt that Metropolis was the opposite of Gotham City. It was a shining, clean urban utopia surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty. The comic book interpretations of Metropolis, especially in recent years, shows the city in nature’s splendor with green grass, blue sunny skies, lush trees and colorful buildings from every era. I have yet to witness such a recreation on my screens.
Vancouver, which stood in as Metropolis (or parts of Metropolis) in “Smallville,” a portion of “Man of Steel” and “Superman & Lois,” was the closest we’ve come to a true modern interpretation of Superman’s city. However, its rain heavy climate left me wishing for a little more sunlight. You know, the thing that gives Superman his otherworldly powers?
Minneapolis is the sun-filled love child of Vancouver and New York City and I believe it possesses all of the same traits as Metropolis, but I’m not trying to convince myself.
Here are 10 reasons why I believe the City of Lakes should stand in as the City of Tomorrow in Warner Bros. Discovery’s upcoming DC Comics flick, “Superman: Legacy.”
Let’s start with the obvious. Metropolis’ and Minneapolis’ names are akin to one another. According to vocabulary.com, the term metropolis comes from the Greek rooted word mētēr, meaning “mother,” and pólis, meaning “city.” Historically, it would refer to the first founding city established in a country or region. The word has found new meaning in modernity and is mostly referred to a massively populated city or a metropolitan region of cities.
Enter in the City of Lakes in its surrounding metro dubbed the “Twin Cities.” According to the city’s public profile on opengov.com, Minneapolis combines the Dakota word for water (“minne”) with the Greek word for city (“polis”), generating a fitting name for the City that houses 22 of Minnesota’s more than 12,000 lakes.
2. Minnesota’s Film Protection Tax Credit
I threw this one in for the executives at Warner Bros. Discovery, and I also believe it’s an important fact to throw in when it comes to filming a blockbuster movie in the Metropolis of the North. In 2021, the Minnesota Legislature, with bipartisan support, enacted a 25% income tax credit to production companies that spend at least $1 million dollars, in a taxable year, for eligible production costs. The economic impact of a Superman franchise being filmed in Minnesota would benefit all parties involved.
With the previous solo Superman movie “Man of Steel” (2013) costing an estimated $225,000,000, I’d say that this is a fairly decent deal. The Minnesota Government has recently stated that the film tax credit authorization has been extended until Dec. 31, 2030, with a renewal expected in the future.
3. Metro’s motto is Minne’s motto
The world of DC Comics often looks to the City of Metropolis as a futuristic utopia with their aspirations further into the future. This is why the term “City of Tomorrow” is often used when describing Superman’s home. They’re always moving forward, looking for ways to better industry and life.
The official seal for the City of Minneapolis was approved on June 5, 1878 (the month of Superman). It depicts a view of St. Anthony Falls, the old suspension bridge across the the Mississippi River, mill buildings (mills were the main economic driving force back then), and the skyline of 1878 Minneapolis. At the top in rays of light is the city’s motto “En Avant,” which in French means “forward.”
One of the best parts of Superman’s identity is his humanity. A true heroic irony of the character given the fact that he hails from another world. This aspect of the character is best represented to his sympathy towards all and his innate understanding.
I feel the only way this can be represented on screen is through a culturally diverse population, and Minneapolis is the city to find that. The United States Sensus Bureau and city records indicated that, since the 1950s, the city has been diversifying. Immigrants from countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have brought Minneapolis a more ethnically diverse population.
In recent years the city has celebrated this shift with the recognition of Cultural Districts, a city initiative “designed to prevent the displacement of residents in gentrifying areas while at the same time supporting the unique cultural history of the neighborhoods within these areas,” according to the city’s tourism site Meet Minneapolis.
5. Culture leaping tall buildings in a single bound
Minneapolis is filled to the brim with culture driven by community. Be it fine art, museums or the active music and theater venues, the City of Lakes has it all. When I think of Metropolis I think of a city filled with people from every walk of life. Minneapolis reflects this. The city has the midwest homey feel meshed with a variety of diverse neighborhoods. Something a farm boy from Kansas would vibe with quickly, comfortably and believably.
The city is always abuzz with some sort of activity. Every year performances captivate the stages at the Guthrie and Orpheum Theaters, breathtaking exhibitions take over museums like the Minneapolis Institute of Art and Walker Art Center, world known musicians play in venues that strongly support local artists (ever heard of Prince?) and entire districts are dedicated to creative support.
Minneapolis also celebrates locals by dedicating entire spaces to businesses and entrepreneurs trying to achieve the “American Dream.” Examples include the Mill City Farmer’s Market, the Minneapolis Farmers Market, The Midtown Global Market, Open Streets Minneapolis, City Wide Art Fairs and so much more. It’s a big city with a strong sense of community that will make any small town implant feel welcomed.
6. The Metro
There’s a reason we call our coverage of the Twin Cities metro region “Metropolis.” According to the Metropolitan Council (side eye), the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area is a “thriving community of nearly 3 million people, in 7 counties and 182 communities, encompassing nearly 3,000 square miles.” The area sustains various modes of transportation including an international airport and a semi-complex web of public transportation, perfect for future travel and tourism opportunities.
That sounds like Metropolis to me! One thing that has shocked me about the metro since moving from the Benz Family Farm in late 2021 is the strong sense of connection the cities have. The differences are staggering, but they’re all strongly connected. Each city could offer a new filming location for future projects. Not to mention that the city of St. Paul would be a close-to-perfect stand in for Gotham City, but that’s a conversation for another article.
7. Land of 10,000 lakes and the first Lois Lane
A fun nod to the original live action actress to play Lois Lane could be made when filming in Minneapolis. Noel Neill, who first played Lois in the film serials “Superman” (1948) and “Atom Man vs. Superman”(1950) and again played the Reporter of Steel in “The Adventures of Superman” starting in the second season, is from the City of Lakes.
According to Reuters, Neill was born Nov. 25, 1920 in Minneapolis, where her father was a journalist at the Star Tribune, ironically enough. Neill then traveled to California after high school and found a job as a singer at a Del Mar racetrack restaurant. Her connections at the track soon led to a contract with the Paramount movie studio, which originally produced the Superman serials.
8. Future growth
Minneapolis has seen exponential structural growth in the past decade. According to The Development Tracker, the City of Lakes is currently witnessing over 80 building and structure projects transforming the city’s landscape.
The city is also planning 30 future projects, some pretty major that will bring drastic changes to the Minneapolis skyline. This is the perfect time to have Minneapolis play the part of Metropolis. The City of Tomorrow is constantly changing within comics and having a city seeing constant change in real life is a great value for production.
9. For all seasons
One of the most important aspects of Metropolis is its climate. The City of Tomorrow stands in a region that witnesses all four seasons and having a city that experiences the same is great for future storytelling.
Imagine having a character-driven Superman winter holiday special about Metropolis citizens experiencing individual “miracles” from the Man of Steel while Lois is trying to bust a toy theft ring by Toyman! The opportunities for storytelling are endless.
10. Location, location, location
The best part of Minneapolis is its variety of architecture displayed in starkly different districts. The city is made up of 11 districts, each playing host to numerous neighborhoods. Downtown Minneapolis can provide dramatic views of the city’s skyline, a familiar site when thinking of Metropolis, while other neighborhoods will provide unique community flare previously unseen on any Superman silver screen appearances.
One thing I absolutely love about shows like “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” and “Superman & Lois” is their focus on community and the stories that matter to the people who live there. Narratives driven by Lois and Clark as investigative journalists constantly captures my attention. This angle is often lost when cities like Los Angeles and New York stand in for the Big Apricot. A smaller major city is more believable in my opinion.
Metropolis is also distinguishable due to the numerous landmarks the city possess. So, in my last pitch, I’d like to point out structures in the city of Minneapolis that could stand in as iconic Superman locations.
The Daily Planet Building
The Daily Planet Building stands proudly in the heart of Metropolis, typically in an Art Deco high rise. The perfect candidate for the soul of Metropolis is Minneapolis’ Lumen Technologies Building, formerly known as the Northwestern Bell Building. It’s the perfect nod to Superman’s decade of origin and would look perfect with a globe on top. Maybe a permanent installment for yours truly?
LexCorp Tower has been portrayed as a towering glassy shard in most incarnations and I’m kind of sick of it. I believe Minneapolis’ Wells Fargo Center could make a great location for a new interpretation of LexCorp only previously seen at the turn of the century in comics. Its welcoming daytime appearance is shifted to an intimidating illuminated demeanor at night, a great reflection on Lex Luthor.
Hall of Justice
Like many warehouse-like structures during the 1930s, the Minneapolis Armory possesses an iconic curved roof. When I first moved to the city, I immediately noticed its similarities to the Justice League’s Hall of Justice. The picturesque nature filled courtyard and park across the street makes for perfect filming opportunities, not to mention the building’s close proximity to the proposed Daily Planet Building mentioned above. It’s only good for exterior shots since the interior is one of the city’s hottest music venues.
S.T.A.R. Labs is so unique to the Superman mythos and needs to be represented on an equal level visually. The Weisman Art Museum located on the bank of the Mississippi River really brings me back to “Superman: The Animated Series.” It’s not exactly identical, but the representation of that nostalgic time is not lost on me. I think it’s the perfect option.
Centennial Park is the wonderfully nature-filled oasis in the center of Metropolis. Loring Park is the exact identical counterpart in Minneapolis. Represented as a relaxing stretch of green space in the comics, Centennial Park is where many Metropolitans go to escape. It provides a variety of recreational activities with kid-friendly parks and pools, sport courts, and more. It also provides relaxing centers like garden and fountain spaces. Loring Park possesses all of that and more.
Metropolis University, in some versions of Superman’s history, is where Clark Kent studied journalism. It’s also depicted as one of the nation’s leading engines for ingenuity. The University of Minnesota Minneapolis Campus takes up a huge portion of the city and can serve as a great introduction for many characters.
Tomorrow Avenue, or the Tomorrow District, is pristine, clean, and quite the scene for innovation. In previous storylines, LexCorp, WayneTech, Kord Tech and others have called the area home. I believe Minneapolis’ Downtown pedestrian friendly Nicollet Avenue represents this space wholeheartedly.
Minneapolis is home to four major sports stadiums and numerous smaller venues within the city limits that could work perfectly for any athletic related formalities featured in a Superman movie. Target Field (baseball) Target Center (basketball), TCF Bank and US Bank Stadiums (football) could all represent arenas from DC Comics.
Glenmorgan Square, sometimes referred to as Metropolis or Planet Square, is Metropolis’ version of Times Square in New York City. It’s the land of commerce and entertainment that’s popular with tourists. Minneapolis’ theater, nightlife and entertainment district that runs along Downtown’s Hennepin Avenue North would be perfect for this.
This is an extra installment to pay homage to Superman’s co-creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who once watched a 1930’s German sci-fi epic about a robot in a gleaming city of the future called “Metropolis.” Minneapolis’ dynamic Capella Tower could provide a modern take on what I believe should be a Superman landmark.
Editor’s Note: I know Minneapolis was used for an establishing shot in “Smallville’s” fourth season, but since it was a one-and-done situation, I’m not counting it. However, it’s important to point out that creatives behind that show also thought Minneapolis could be portrayed as Metropolis.