New 'X-Men' Film Promo Campaign Plays Into JFK Conspiracy Theories

A viral video and website promoting 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' play into JFK conspiracy theories.

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Did Magneto kill JFK? As the events and special programming to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination wind down, 20th Century Fox is pushing a conspiracy theory of its own in a promotional campaign for the upcoming X-Men film, "X-Men: Days of Future Past."

A documentary-style trailer links the Marvel character, Erik Lehnsherr, also known as the mutant Magneto, to the details of the shooting including Lee Harvey Oswald, the grassy knoll, the bullets. "But even half a century after the assassination, the events of Nov. 22 continue to be a source of controversy," the video's narrator says.

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It also directs viewers to the website, where they'll find a lengthy article by the fictional Harper Simmons, a journalist in Marvel comic books. In the X-Men parallel universe, Lehnsherr has been convicted for Kennedy's murder in a secret trial, though concerns about the Warren Commission feed into doubts about his guilt. The article goes on to combine historical facts surrounding Kennedy's shooting with the aspects of Marvel mythology: Lehnsherr is convicted via the Warren Commission's "bent bullet theory" (reminiscent of "the magic bullet theory," what conspiracy theorists sarcastically call the single bullet theory). The bent bullet theory contends that Magneto used his superpowers to direct the bullets from Oswald's gun to kill the president.

This fanciful re-imagination of Kennedy's death comes at a time when 61 percent of Americans believe Kennedy was killed in a conspiracy, as per a recent Gallup poll. Such theories have been the subject of a number of books and documentaries, as well as dramatized accounts of Kennedy's death. The most famous of these is perhaps Oliver Stone's 1991 film "JFK," about a contemporary lawyer who connects the assassination to a giant, government-sponsored coup d'etat.

Of course, a JFK conspiracy theory involving the wrongful conviction of a genetic mutant is just the start in the imaginative leaps and bounds "X-Men: Days of Future Past" – due out in 2014 – promises to take. A trailer for the film released in October suggests X-Men heroes will be time-traveling to their younger selves in the past to head off an epic battle in the future. Could preventing Kennedy's assassination also be on their agenda?

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