The confederacy of imbeciles struck another blow in its war against the world's viral marketers last week when discarded press materials were mistaken for a bomb. Designed to promote Marvel Studios' Thor, a briefcase adorned with the film's iconography and that of the fictional spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D. and auto manufacturer Acura was discovered near an Ann Arbor, Michigan bus station, which had to be evacuated because somebody thought it actually was some kind of S.H.I.E.L.D. device that would explode despite the the enormous Thor and Acura logos all over it.Acura is very proud of its vehicles' product placement in Thor, which is an enormously popular film based on the legendary Marvel Comics superhero. In support of this promotional initiative, Marvel Studios and Acura created for a number of press outlets a briefcase made to look as though it was sent by S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Nick Fury - a character who has appeared in several of the aforementioned hugely popular films -- to test recipients' qualifications to join his organization. As you can see from the photographs, such tests include choosing which of two things will detonate and reanimating a dead scorpion.

It's the "detonate" thing that most likely activated the panic circuits in the offending passerby, who discovered a briefcase that, it turns out, had been discarded by Automobile magazine, whose offices are near the bus station that was evacuated. According to sources speaking to Gizmodo, Automobile improperly put the S.H.I.E.L.D. briefcase in the building's recycling bin, causing it to be left behind by sanitation workers. As Gizmodo noted, the citizen who called the authorities is obviously not the sort of agent Nick Fury is looking for.

The event is reminiscent of similar but still significantly stupider actions taken by citizens of Boston, Massachusetts in 2007, when other cool pieces of viral marketing were inexplicably mistaken for bombs. In that case, the film was Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, based on the Adult Swim animated series, and the objects in question were battery-powered LED devices made to resemble the fictional Mooninite character Ignignokt, a bright green, 8-bit video game-style alien giving "the finger." Bridges were closed, highways were shut down, public transportation was interrupted, enormous numbers of police were mobilized, and the city's bomb squad personnel actually detonated the Mooninite on television. The incident is widely considered to be one of the stupidest things that has ever happened.

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