Organisation: Twentieth Century Fox
Issue: Promotion for the forthcoming release of the X-Men film
Twentieth Century Fox has launched a two-pronged internet offensive in
an attempt to make its X-Men film this summer’s blockbuster.
An adaptation of Marvel Comics’ long-running comic book series, the film
follows a group of genetic mutants led by Professor Xavier (Patrick
Stewart) who use their various super-human powers to fight the evil
Magneto (Ian McKellen) and his mutant cohorts, intent on destroying all
If this isn’t bad enough, the misguided US government wants to rid the
world of all mutants.
Navigating your way from the official Fox site takes you to the
obligatory stylish web site (www.x-men-the-movie. co.uk ) with nifty
animations, sound effects, production notes, and trailers. However, a
button at the top of the page launches you into the ’X-Men Experience’,
subjecting you to a retina scan before taking you to www.mutantwatch.
The excellent tongue-in-cheek site is home to senator Kelly’s campaign
for re-election on an anti-mutant ticket. With red, white and blue
congressional banners, a mission statement from the senator outlines his
objections to the ’mutant threat’. A campaign milks every cliche of a
wholesome America while the senator’s voice over proclaims that
everything is set to change on 14 July - the day of the film’s
A ’Known Mutants’ page has several grainy surveillance photographs of
the film’s mutant characters, accompanied by files, which also don’t
have much in the way of detail. In fact no actual mention is made of the
film except for a small statement at the bottom of the home page
announcing sponsorship from the Stop the X-Men campaign. An on-line quiz
allows you to assess whether you’re a mutant or not and there are web
links to a couple of dry dissertations on genetics.
The ’Report a Mutant’ page encourages you to sign up to the senator’s
campaign and shop a friend/suspected mutant as well, effectively
registering two users to the promotional mailing list for the price of
Despite Mutant Watch’s negative point of view it takes its lead from
last year’s Blair Witch Project web site, by immersing users in the
fiction of the film. Particularly as you can get to this ’fictional’
site quite easily from the official site but there are no links or
references to take you back.
Interestingly, Mutant Watch’s ’official’ appearance is neatly reversed
by Marvel Comics’ official X-Men site (www.x-men.com) which establishes
itself as a rogue transmission from the underground band of mutants.