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The new Hitman movie ads are just someone pretending to murder YouTube stars

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Remember that time when the creators of Hitman Absolution released a trailer of Agent 47 fighting in what Polygon's Alexa Ray Corriea called the "the BDSM gun-toting nuns level," then ended up promising to edit the game after complaints about the protagonist slaughtering said sexy nuns? Or the time publisher Square Enix started an advertising campaign urging you to send death threats to your friends? Well, this summer, Hitman will see a new film adaptation, and the franchise is up to its old publicity-seeking tricks.

Perhaps rightly, 20th Century Fox has determined that its incredibly dull and exposition-heavy trailer, plus the combined star power of Zachary Quinto and Rupert Friend, weren't going to be enough to get people excited. Yesterday, it started orchestrating a series of "leaked trailer reactions" from YouTube stars, all of which end with the stars in question being murdered in increasingly graphic but low-budget ways as they prepare to watch the video. Then, it gathered the whole list into an official supercut, so we can all watch two minutes of teenagers being shot, bludgeoned, strangled, and garroted by a faceless man in an offensively cheap suit.

It wasn't ever going to be a good idea, but it's somewhat worse in a period where Twitch viewers can see actual armed police invade gamers' houses because of SWATing "pranks," and minor YouTube personalities have been convinced that a game developer is literally trying to assassinate them. Back in the days of the bondage nuns, Hitman Absolution's director defended them by saying that they fit the game's "colourful and cartoony" vibe. Maybe that's the problem here: smash-and-stretch cartoon violence only works as long as it feels divorced from reality.

Well, and it has to actually be funny.