Even though Marvel’s third "Avengers" movie, Infinity War, won’t be hitting theaters until next spring, production for its sequel is already underway. Though it doesn’t have a title yet, the film, which we’ll call "Avengers 4," looks to already have a script, or at least enough that certain scenes are already being filmed.
Last month a casting call for "Avengers 4" was looking for extras to play “Japanese gangsters” and “Japanese cafe patrons,” suggesting that at least part of the movie will take place in Japan. Some also assumed that this meant the related scenes would be filmed in Japan, but so far the producers have instead decided to dress up Atlanta as a stand-in for a Japanese city, most likely Tokyo, as seen in photos Tweeted by @AtlantaFilming.
Here we see a street crowded with advertisements, most prominently the one with red characters 吠えるバー on a blue-green background for an establishment called “Howling Bar.” There’s also a large-scale image of a dour-looking Japanese woman, as has been Hollywood’s go-to visual shorthand for “Asian metropolis” since "Blade Runner" (which, ironically, took place not in Asia but Los Angeles).
While the producers are obviously enthusiastic about trying to pack as much Japanese-style flair into the scene as possible, there’re a handful of problems with the signs seen above. Their text no doubt looks suitably cool to non-linguist set designers, but the fonts are very dated, enough so to make the street look more like something out of the 1980s or earlier, rather than the 21st century. Also, as those who’ve spent much time getting drunk in Japan will tell you, street-side bar signs are usually plastic frames with lights inside, once again marking the flat-painted Howling Bar ad as a relic from a bygone era.
Things are looking a little more modern here. Small circular signs, though, aren’t too common in Japanese cityscapes, where rectangular ads are the norm. Signs without any text are also rare in real Japan, since pub proprietors are eager to have their name clearly visible in an attempt to stand out from neighboring businesses.
Unfortunately, a lot of the text that can be seen in the above photo is pretty weird. The top right sign’s レッドピル says “Red Pill,” which is fine, but two signs beneath it is the jumbled-up mess ルピブール that switches two of the characters and the order of the words, giving us essentially “Llip Blue” instead of “Blue Pill” (odds are whoever made the sign didn’t know that when Japanese characters are written vertically, the columns are read from right to left).
Meanwhile, the yellow sign, 最後の呼び出し, says “Saigo no Yobidashi,” an attempt at translating the bar term “last call.” However, yobidashi means “call” in the sense of “call someone out/over to you.” No one ever says saigo no yobidashi to talk about “last call” in a bar in Japan (the phrase for that is dorinku no rasuto oda, literally “last order for drinks”).
This shot is the most authentic-looking of the bunch, and is actually a pretty good match for the back alleyways of Tokyo neighborhood Shinjuku’s Kabukicho and Golden Gai bar districts. Once again, though, it doesn’t look like the producers have anyone proficient in Japanese checking their text. The central orange sign, with the writing 24時営, doesn’t mean anything. Odds are it’s an attempt at 24時間営業, which would mean “open 24 hours,” but even if the fourth kanji in that combination is being obscured by the crossbeam in the foreground, the 時 is still AWOL.
And finally, we come to this snapshot of a woman with her dyed hair in buns wearing a smiley face sleeveless T-shirt. Like the "Blade Runner"-style billboard shown in the first photo, this probably screams “Japan!” to anyone who hasn’t spent much time in the country. To those who have, though, the woman looks more like a foreign anime fan on vacation in Japan than a legitimate local.
The photos were retweeted by Japanese Twitter account @AmeComiLife, resulting in no shortage of snickering snark from Japanese Twitter users.
“Looks like something out of the musty old Showa period [1926-1989].”
“It looks like the kind of world where NINJA could pop out at any moment.”
“I’m used to Hollywood’s weird depictions of Japan, but I’m still bummed to see the Marvel Cinematic Universe be so far off the mark.”
“What the hell is a ‘howling bar?’”
“Who’s supposed to be getting called over at “Saigo o Yobidashi?”
“Shocked to see them cutting corners to save money like this.”
As alluded to in the last comment, Japan is a notoriously hard country to film blockbusters in, both because of high costs and a general unwillingness by cities to shut down their streets for filming. That’s not to say it’s never been done though, as fellow Marvel character Wolverine (who, admittedly, isn’t part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe) had extensive parts of his 2013 movie "The Wolverine" shot in Japan.
Granted, if the "Avengers 4" sets look Japanese enough to the cast and crew, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll look Japanese enough to most non-Japanese-born/residing audiences. There’s also a chance, what with how much digital reworking movie visuals have after filming, that some of the oddities in these photos are going to be fixed in post-production anyway.
Sources: Otakomu, Screen Rant
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