Monday, 7 April 2014

Of Avengers And Super Heroes

Seoul has been busy hosting scenes from the Avengers: Age of Ultron this past week. And like most Hollywood movie fans in the city, I also wondered whether I would be able to take a peek on an actual movie shoot for a blockbuster Hollywood movie. I have seen Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Nicolas Cage during their movie premieres in Seoul over the years. I thought of adding a few more Hollywood names to that list.

So, when the city government published the dates and the locations where the scenes would be shot, I thought of maybe dropping by...uninvited. Ha-ha-ha!

         (Crowds watching the shoot on the Mapo Bridge)
                                   (The Mapo Bridge)

So, last Sunday, the production shot scenes on the Mapo Bridge. Like all of the locations in Seoul where the scenes were scheduled to be shot, one side of the Mapo Bridge was closed to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. 

Luckily, I didn't have to take the public transport heading towards the Mapo Bridge. My friend Andrew, who was attending a wedding in the Sinsa-dong area with his friends that Sunday morning, offered to pick me up from Hannam-dong on his way back to the Mapo District where he lives.

    (Red and white boats sitting idly below the Mapo Bridge)

But instead of going straight to the Mapo area, we instead decided to hang out at the Yeouido Park, which actually has a good vantage of the Mapo Bridge. On our way to the park, I could see that most cherry blossoms had already bloomed ahead of the forecast. This was the reason why last weekend, the organizers of the annual Yeouido Flower Festival immediately advanced the starting date of the festival by a week. There wouldn't be any blossoms left on the original opening date had they not done so.

                       (A portraitist and his works of art)

When we finally found a parking spot and started walking towards the Mapo Bridge, we saw lots of people already swarming at the park:  couples, groups of friends and families, including their pets! Moms pushing their babies on strollers, granddads and grandmoms playing with their grandkids, fathers helping a son fly his kite and even moms riding bikes with daughters.

That day, the spring weather was perfect for everyone to get out of their homes and spend time with their families outdoors. 

               (A flyboarder amuses everyone at the park)
         (I want to borrow his toy this summer. Whom to call?)

And when we got near the Mapo Bridge, we could see a few activities both on and off it. A few vehicles were visible running on the bridge, while two boats, a red and a white one, were below the exact spot where the vehicles were. Perhaps, those rescue boats were just there in case someone or something fell off the bridge. 

Other than that, people watching from a distance were just relaxing by the banks of the Han River, perhaps curious like me in case there was some big action scene with an explosion that would be seen from where we were. 

                 (They looked amazing as they moved
              through the Han River on their flyboards.)

What actually amused me and the crowds at Yeouido Park that morning was not the Avengers 2 shoot on Mapo Bridge but a couple of guys performing the flyboarding on the river. 

Flyboarding is a new aqua sport where a person, whose legs are attached with the flyboard, is propelled through the air with the power of the water propulsion generated by a water craft, which in this performance at the Han River looked like a jet ski. Here is a VIDEO of their flyboarding which entertained a lot of kids...and their parents!

For a moment, Andrew and I thought that these two flyboarders were joining the Avengers 2 shooting. We thought that maybe they would travel nearer to the shoot and a few scenes would catch them performing on the river as part of the background.

But that didn't happen. They just travelled to the other side of the Yeouido Park and entertained the kids and everyone else on that side of the river. Watching them move above the water with those propelled water oozing from their boots was amazing. They flew over the water like Iron Man without the need of a suit.

I heard Chris Evans was taking part on the shoot that day at Mapo Bridge, but unfortunately, Andrew and I weren't close enough to see anything or any action hero that day.

But I realized, we didn't have to look that far to see for ourselves some super heroes. They were all right here next to us at Yeouido Park: the hardworking mother and fathers who toil during the week to provide for their families, the grandmothers who help look after their grandkids so that the kids' parents could work full time and not worry about staying at home to take care of the kids, the grandfathers who must still be working even at their old age just so he and his wife wouldn't be a burden to their children who now have their own families to take care of, or perhaps, some of these dutiful children treating their parents to lunch and to a fun day at the park as a sign of gratitude for their parents' hard work enabling them to finally finish college. 

And I think I was right.

I didn't have to look at what was happening on Mapo Bridge, where Chris Evans as Captain America might be shooting scenes as he saved the world. Real life super heroes were just around me that day, not in their super hero costumes, but in their super hero lives. On this nice spring day, they weren't saving their own world; they were spending time with the people they would save the world for.

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