Police Called to 'Iron Man 3' Theater Stunt Involving Prop Guns

Iron Man 3 Publicity Stunt Screengrab - H 2013

Iron Man 3 Publicity Stunt Screengrab - H 2013

A cosplay performance featuring actors dressed to look like members of S.H.I.E.L.D. led to several panicked 911 calls.

After last summer's horrific events in Aurora, Colo., the sight of anyone carrying a weapon into a crowded movie theater is enough to send anyone into a panic.

But that reaction didn't occur to the management of Goodrich Capital 8 Theaters in Jefferson City, Mo., where a surprise performance set to coincide with the opening weekend of Iron Man 3 resulted in multiple 911 calls and a full-scale police intervention.

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"We had just finished watching Iron Man 3," U.S. Army veteran John Morlock told local ABC 17 News. "We're just getting into the car when I spotted a man in full assault gear, carrying what appeared to be a modified M-4 and 9 mm on his side."

“We received a series of 911 calls stating that a man dressed in all black and body armor and a rifle was walking into Capital 8 Theaters,” Cpt. Doug Shoemaker of the Jefferson City Police Department said. “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. There’s really no good that can come of this.”

The guns were props, however, and the man wielding them was part of a cosplay troupe who had dressed like members of S.H.I.E.L.D., the movie's fictional government security agency, and ambushed the crowd in what was supposed to be a fun, post-screening performance.

Capital 8 Theaters manager Bob Wilkins told ABC 17 News that far more people were entertained by the show than were upset by it, but the theater posted an apology to its Facebook page Friday after the Internet caught wind of the story and backlash grew.

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"We apologize and are sympathetic to those who felt they were in harm’s way with our character promotion for Iron Man 3," the statement reads. "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 No. 1 priority," the theater said.