Ever since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it’s always a bit strange watching New York be ravaged by evildoers in the movies, isn’t it? You watch some massive destruction rain down on Manhattan and you just think, “They wouldn’t be getting over this in a week or a year.” It really kind of ruins the effect. The Avengers, however, managed to drop an alien menace right into the center of midtown and the story was generally so good that most people were unfazed by it.
But The Hollywood Reporter weren’t, and they called in some disaster experts to gauge how much it would cost to clean up the pieces of New York taken out by the Chitauri. Using computer models, they came up with an estimate of $160 billion, plus/minus the loss of life. and limb. That’s nearly twice the $83 billion it took to clean up after 9/11, and that doesn’t even consider the billions in taxpayer dollars that were likely thrown out the window repairing and replacing the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and its contents.
That puts in an entirely different light the scene at the end of the film where a Democratic U.S. Senator tells the media that The Avengers have to be held accountable for the damage done. It’s one of the few things, after all, that Tony Stark couldn’t pay for out of pocket. And unlike in real life, Disney can’t foot the bill, either.
It also puts me in mind of Ghostbusters II, where it was revealed that after the events of the first film, the four heroes were sued into oblivion by every city, county and state agency in New York. The Hollywood Reporter noted that in passing, as well.
“The extensive damage to Grand Central Terminal could prove highly disruptive, depending on the subsurface damage to the subway system,” said the experts called in to estimate the damage. “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.”
Chuck Watson, called in by The Hollywood Reporter as part of the assessment team, told the periodical that he was actually surprised by how low the numbers were.
“Compared to the aliens in Independence Day, for example, these guys were amateurs,” he told THR. “Of course, the Chitauri/Loki alliance were more interested in conquest and ruling, whereas the ID aliens were just looking for lunch or something.”