2. The National Mall
Times destroyed: 9
Movies: Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Independence Day, Jonah Hex, Mars Attacks!, Olympus Has Fallen, White House Down, and X-Men: Days of Future Past
In a good year, the mall oscillates between being genuinely beautiful and looking like a run-down baseball outfield. While out-of-towners might not get how or why, DC residents tend to feel really cut-up when that strip of grass and reflecting pool are destroyed -- the Mall is the backbone that connects some of the best museums, monuments, and architecture in the country, after all. White House Down is probably the movie that best captures the scope of it, and really delivers an adrenaline rush. In the first act, a retrofitted cargo plane flies into the city pursued by jets: the cargo plane’s pilots lower Gatling guns, take out the jets, and tear apart most of the Mall in a nearly continuous rain of bullets, shells, and sweeping arcs, leaving no one to defend it. This leads into an assault on the White House, which is right on top of the Mall: buses and garbage trucks explode, blowing out guard houses, tearing apart the surrounding trees, and laying the smack down.
1. The US Capitol Building
Times destroyed: 9
Movies: Day After Tomorrow, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Independence Day, Olympus has Fallen, Superman II, White House Down, and X-Men: Days of Future Past
This building really is gorgeous, right? And it gets destroyed in so many imaginative ways: catastrophic climate change (Day After Tomorrow), alien invasion (Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, Independence Day, and Superman II), and through fantastical means (X-Men: Days of Future Past). The scariest iterations of the Capitol Building's destruction involve the infiltration, takeover, and dismantling of a system that has worked, albeit sometimes frustratingly, for over 200 years. When the structures of this representation of democracy are crushed by those who would see everything ruined, it can be weirdly heartbreaking. It’s painful to see the Cobra flags drop from the White House and Capitol Building -- even if it's just in a G.I. Joe summer blockbuster.
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