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The Avengers' Battle in New York City Would Cause $160 Billion in Damage

(Image: Marvel Studios)

In the 2012 movie The Avengers, some of the greatest heroes of the Marvel Universe join forces to battle an alien invasion from a wormhole that opens in New York City. At the end of the film, the heroes rejoice in their triumph, which is a reasonable reaction. But most of them aren't property owners in New York City. People who are did nothing but suffer in that film because the city was thoroughly ravaged during the battle.

The Kinetic Analysis Corporation is a company that performs assessments of disasters. At the request of The Hollywood Reporter, Chuck Watson and Sara Jupin used computer models to calculate how much financial damage New York City suffered during the movie. They determined that the total cost is about $160 billion:

Although many buildings in the fight's East Midtown arena suffered extensive structural damage, most were limited to the more superficial destruction of windows, facade and some interiors. Those buildings that had their tops crushed, though, would be especially costly and time-consuming to fix, as would be Grand Central Station, through which a warship crashed.

"The extensive damage to Grand Central Terminal could prove highly disruptive, depending on the subsurface damage to the subway system," KAC notes. "Although such damage is unlikely, as the 9/11 events showed, collapsing buildings can cause significant damage to subsurface infrastructure such as gas, communications and electrical systems. Detailed site surveys will be required to assess the state of the subterranean infrastructure."

I found this article via The Geek Twins, with whom I had a lively discussion on Twitter. I have strong opinions on these matters. In short, if you live in the Marvel or DC universes, don't live in a large city. Don't live in a city where there are superheroes. If a superhero begins operations in your city, move. Superheroes attract supervillains and supervillains will kill you or destroy your property. Superheroes are nothing but trouble, so avoid them as much as practically possible.

On the other hand, the regularity of superhero plots--their predictable nature--also creates opportunities. For example, wherever there are superheroes, there will be physical destruction and therefore financial demand for reconstruction:

Of course, you'd need a lot of capital to go into the construction business. You may do better by counting on insurance payouts increasing dramatically:

As the Thirty-Fourth Rule of Acquisition says, "War is good for business." The Thirty-Fifth Rule is "Peace is good for business." Together, the principle they assert is that in any situation, there's a market that you can probably exploit--if you look at it the right way.


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I seem to recall that the arrival of the alien invasion in NY had nothing to do with the presence of the heroes. That, in fact, the invasion scouts such as Loki were doing their darndest to remove the heroes from action long before the invasion started.

So, what would the damages be if the heroes had not been there to stop the invasion? Completely leveling NY to a pile of stones would be, what, hundreds of TRILLIONS of dollars rather than mere billions?

Or do we imagine that, without any heroes to fight, the property damages would be minimal, due to the possibility that the aliens might have a preference for killing people rather than merely destroying property? Personally, I can't really imagine the alien invasion army carefully picking off all the human lives without doing serious property damage along the way.

Oh, and with no one to stop them, would the alien invasion stop at leveling NY? I seriously doubt it. So what's the assessment if the entire world's cities are all leveled?

The theme of "heroes blamed for destruction of city" goes back to early comics with super heroes, in fact I'm fairly certain that's the running theme of most of the Spiderman series, so it's no surprise to see it pop up again. I just wish there was someone doing the hypothetical financial assessment of the potential damages had the heroes not been there to defend the city (or in this case, the Earth) that day.
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