The 11 Best Times Major Landmarks Were Destroyed in Movies
Just in time for (Welcome to) Earth Day, 20th Century Fox has dropped the second full trailer for “Independence Day: Resurgence,” treating us to two-and-a-half minutes of sci-fi carnage, mindblowing special effects, and Jeff Goldblum doing his best Jeff Goldblum impression.
Fans of the original have plenty to cheer about here: Rousing speeches about fighting for our right to live! Wisecracking young pilots whooping ET.'s ass! Brent “Data” Spiner's character is (somehow??) alive! Randy Quaid's isn't!
But, it's a Roland Emmerich movie, which means everyone who heads to the theater opening night will be most eager for some good old-fashioned disaster porn. And it looks like we won't be disappointed, with iconic sites like Burj Khalifa and the London Eye biting the dust. As Goldblum anxiously remarks, “They like to get the landmarks.”
He might be talking about aliens there, but the point holds true for Hollywood as well. For decades now, this particular type of summer spectacle has thrilled audiences by blowing up all of our favorite tourist destinations. Here are 11 times it was done best.
“Deep Impact” – Atlantic Ocean + Comet = No More New York
This entry into 1998's “asteroid threatens all life on earth” genre may have hit screens before “Armageddon,” but without Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck around to save the world, many of its characters didn't get to enjoy a happy, Aerosmith-scored ending. When a fragment of a larger comet (can Neil deGrasse Tyson confirm if that's a thing?) crashes into the Atlantic Ocean, it sends out a mega-tsunami that obliterates all of New York City in one of many disaster movie scenes that would become incredibly awkward to watch a few years later.
“Earth vs. The Flying Saucers” – “Independence Day” Before “Independence Day”
“ID: 4” wasn't the first major motion picture to lay waste to America's capital for our viewing pleasure. Way back in 1956, “Earth vs. The Flying Saucers” depicted yet another race of alien assh*les obliterating the Washington Monument, the Capitol Building and as many innocent D.C. citizens as possible.
“Godzilla (1998)” – The Brooklyn Bridge and Chrysler Building are Collateral Damage
In Roland Emmerich's “Let's just pretend this never happened” take on the Godzilla franchise, New York once again falls victim to the director's appetite for destruction, with the most cavalier helicopter pilot in the world accidentally destroying the Chrysler building, and the most famous evil, giant reptile this side of Donald Trump trampling over the Brooklyn Bridge.
“X-Men: The Last Stand” – Magneto Redesigns San Francisco
Director Brett Ratner hoped you wouldn't notice how disappointing this movie was if he dazzled you with a third-act sequence in which Magneto shows off his powers by levitating the Golden Gate Bridge. Impressive to watch, for sure, but not impressive enough to justify hiring the guy behind “Rush Hour” to handle the next installment of a beloved and respected superhero series.
“Superman II” – Mount Rushmore Gets a Makeover
Prior to destroying much of Metropolis in “Man of Steel,” General Zod and his Kryptonian henchvillains show up in “Superman II,” stopping by Mount Rushmore to make a few changes. Performing unnecessary cosmetic surgery on three of our most beloved leaders? Acceptable. Destroying the face of Lincoln? Now it's personal.
“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” – Los Angeles Gets Nuked
In this chilling sequence from the only good "Terminator" sequel, a nuclear explosion sets Los Angeles ablaze. Those far enough away from ground zero to live for a few more seconds erupt into flame, before a shockwave cascades through the city, reducing it to rubble.
Sure, it was just a dream, but that doesn't make it less frightening when you realize that nuclear scientists thanked James Cameron for putting such a stunningly accurate depiction of a nuclear attack in his film.
“The Day After Tomorrow” – Tornadoes Go to Hollywood
Roland Emmerich's treatment of climate change was only slightly less terrifying than “An Inconvenient Truth.” It also marked the third time he decided to dispose of New York City on screen. Was Giuliani a jerk to him at some point? Like, probably, but still, chill out, dude.
Manhattan wasn't the only major city to feel Mother Nature's wrath, though. In this scene, tornadoes tear apart iconic landmarks like the Hollywood sign and the Capitol Records building as they turn L.A. into Al Gore's worst nightmare.
“Armageddon” – Bayhem in Paris
Sure, the whole plot of “Armageddon” involves saving the planet from an incoming asteroid, but when Michael Bay read the script and realized he'd gone too many pages (five?) without blowing something up, he knew something had to be done.
As a result, we get a mini-asteroid making way for the main one (some more help, Dr. Tyson?) by striking down in Paris, taking out the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and your romantic honeymoon plans.
“Cloverfield” – The Statue of Liberty Displeases Sea Monsters
The city-stomping monster of “Cloverfield” interrupts a yuppie's going away party by tearing the head off the State of Liberty and tossing it straight into Manhattan. Look at the statue's similar fate in “Deep Impact,” “Planet of the Apes,” A.I.: Artificial Intelligence,” and Batman Forever,” and you start to realize she's the major landmark equivalent of Sean Bean.
“Independence Day” – The End of the World as We Know It”
Couldn't keep this one off the list. Roland Emmerich's first foray into destroying everything may still be his best. This scene is actually pretty brilliant work, after all. Beginning in silent awe, the tone veers in a radically different direction, when the hovering spacecraft unleash their firepower on the world's major cities, turning curious onlookers into panicked victims in seconds.
All the more reason to be excited for “Independence Day: Resurgence.” Plus, it's not like Emmerich is obsessed with blowing up American landmarks, right?
“White House Down” – Roland Emmerich Blows Up the Capitol Building
Oh, man, come on!