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Angelina Jolie film ad banned

The poster for the Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy film Wanted that has been banned for glamorising gun crime. Photograph: Advertising Standards Authority/PA

Billboard ads for Angelina Jolie film Wanted have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for glamorising gun violence.

The posters for the Hollywood movie featured Jolie and her co-star James McAvoy holding guns in a variety of positions in a comic book-style montage of pictures.

One ad featured Jolie lying on her back across the bonnet of a car, holding a gun next to the text: "We drove through the night at breathtaking speed, destroying everything in our path … welcome to the fraternity. We are a team of assassins, the weapons of fate. Kill one, save a thousand."

The ASA said the line "Six weeks ago I was just like you … and then I met her … and my world was changed forever" suggested McAvoy's character's life had been changed for the better since he had become an assassin.

A total of 18 people complained about two posters for the 18-certificate action film, which was released in the UK in June.

They included complaints that the ads glorified and glamorised gun crime and were likely to provoke violence or antisocial behaviour.

Seven of the complainants also said the posters were unsuitable to be seen by children.

Universal Pictures, the Hollywood studio responsible for Wanted, said the style of the advert reflected the film's comic book roots and the story of a man's journey from an office geek to action guy.

"Universal Pictures stated that they were aware that the current climate was sensitive and believed the text and images were relevant to the advertised film and communicated the themes without causing serious or widespread offence," said the ASA.

However, the ASA ruled that "because the ads featured a glamorous actress, action poses, several images of or related to guns and aspirational text, they could be seen to glamorise the use of guns and violence".

"We concluded [the] ads … could be seen to condone violence by glorifying or glamorising the use of guns," the regulator said.

The complaints were only partially upheld, with the ASA concluding that the ads were "unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence" because "most members of the public would understand that the posters reflected the content of an action film".

In its ruling, the watchdog said that the ads must not appear again in their current form.

Universal said the ads were no longer appearing and it had no plans for their future use.

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