In the history of bad ideas, this might just be the worst.
A movie theater in Jefferson City, Mo. hired actors to play members of S.H.I.E.L.D., the fictional law enforcement agency in the Marvel Universe. The only problem? One of them walked into a screening of “Iron Man 3” wearing full tactical gear and carrying a gun. According to the local Fox news channel (via Gawker), several moviegoers called 911 thinking the publicity stunt was real.
No wonder some were traumatized; the tragic shooting at an Aurora, Colo. movie theater happened less than a year ago.
Still, Capital 8 Theaters manager Bob Wilkins defended the move, saying it had been planned months beforehand and that only a few customers were upset. “My job is to entertain people,” he said.
Not entertained? The police. “Everything was in place, it’s the opening night of a superhero movie, it’s somebody walking in all-dark clothes, everything pointed to bad things about to happen,” said Jefferson City Police Captain Captain Doug Shoemaker. “There’s really no good that can come of this.”
Later, Capital 8 Theaters released an apology on its Facebook page:
“We apologize and are sympathetic to those who felt they were in harm’s way with our character promotion for Iron Man 3. This was not a publicity stunt. We have worked with the Cosplacon group on many movies to dress up and help entertain our customers. We have had many complaints about the members dressed specifically as S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives carrying fake guns. We didn’t clearly tell our customers and some people didn’t realize it was for entertainment purposes only. We apologize that police were called to come out to our theater. We have a wonderful working relationship with the Jefferson City Police Department. Going forward we will take the necessary steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Security and safety for our customers is our number one priority.”
“That’s just unbelievable,” said moviegoer Jason Molock, a retired Army veteran, to the local ABC affiliate. “The whole country is talking about gun control because of shootings in theaters and schools.”
As Shoemaker added, “It’s an unfortunate lack of wisdom.”