Sure, The Avengers took in over $700 million worldwide since its release on Friday, but how much would the movie's destruction of midtown Manhattan cost if it happened in real life? The Hollywood Reporter's Jordan Zakarin, eager to find the (thankfully hypothetical) price tag for the rampage, talked to distaster-management firm Kinetic Analysis Corporation and came up with $160 billion.
According to Zakarin, Kinetic "used computer models used for predicting the destruction of nuclear weapons and concluded that the physical damage of the [alien] invastion would be $60-70 billion, with economic and cleanup costs hitting $90 billion. Add on the loss of thousands of lives, and KAC puts the overall price tag at $160 billion."
So there's a straightforward explanation for why Marvel and Disney went with CGI instead of, say, building a duplicate New York to destroy for the film. (Note to Hollywood: don't ever let us make a movie.) But finally, this is a kinda scary reminder of something else. Climactic disasters like that in The Avengers aren't even all that far-fetched, when not done by demigods and space aliens. 9/11 cost New York, D.C., and Shanksville $83 billion; Hurricane Katrina cost the Gulf region $90 billion. Those were awful, so yes, we're counting the nonexistences of superheros and supervillans among our blessings today.