Cinema Film Marketing

“X-Men: Days of Future Past”’s Marketing Campaign Rewrites History One Photo at a Time

As X-Men fans know well, the movies of this franchise can be either really good or quite horrific. I think that Days of Future Past is among the former. Despite the abundance of special effects, it is a film driven by its characters, which manages to balance furious rhythm with moral dilemmas, and action-packed sequences with introspective moments.

Yet I am not going to talk about the film here. I’d like to say a few words about its marketing campaign instead.

SPOILERS AHEAD

If you have already seen the last instalment of the X-Men saga, you know that Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a. the mutant Magneto, was involved in the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Sound absurd? Well, we probably have all heard of conspiracy theories at least as creative as this regarding what really happened at Dealey Plaza on that 22 November 1963. Anyway, the storyline was promoted through The Bent Bullet website.

Labelled as “a fictional experience from the world of X-Men: Days of Future Past”, the website is not only a tool in service of the film’s viral marketing campaign, but a teasing platform that develops the film’s storytelling by providing some “evidence” of the idea of a mutant having been involved in key historical events. In this case everything relies on grainy pictures and “physical signs of unnatural manipulation” displayed on the bullet that struck JFK and Governor Connelly.

As I said in my post about the marketing campaign for Godzilla, re-writing recent history by providing manipulated visual proof is an old idea (remember those defining moments in Forrest Gump when he met JFK and John Lennon?). Days of Future Past’s promotional platforms explore this concept further via the 25 Moments website, which looks back at a number of pivotal incidents, shedding light on the key role mutants have had in 25 crucial moments of recent human history by showcasing manipulated photos.

In this striking picture, for example, you can see Magneto giving his personal “touch” to the Cuban missile crisis:

Magneto gives his personal “touch” to the Cuban missile crisis in “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

While here Bolivar Trask, founder of Trask Industries and creator of the Sentinels in the film, is meeting with U.S. President Nixon (a secret encounter between the two will later result in a 20- minute conversation erased from the White House tapes):

Bolivar Trask meets with U.S. President Nixon in "X-Men: Days of Future Past"

Not tired yet? Then you can explore “the world’s leading full-spectrum genetic security and containment company”, obtaining more information on the genesis of The Sentinel Program by browsing Trask Industries’ corporate website here. The following is a video that celebrates 50 years of the Program and “looks forward to an even brighter future.”

In other words: from eugenics to peace through superior firepower.

4 Comments

  1. I thought it was pretty good, although I probably enjoyed X-Men, X2, and X-Men: First Class more. The marketing campaign does probably expand the storytelling as well as further market it, although I was not aware of much of it until reading this article. Do you like the fact that they use this kind of marketing campaign, or were you just writing about its effect?

    1. I would say both. I like when a marketing campaign adds something to the story, allowing viewers to dig into it and have fun (see this case). I also try to understand why they fail (in my opinion), such as the case of Transcendence (see here).

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