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The main promotional image of Netflix's House of Cards shows Kevin Spacy's character of Frank Underwood sitting in place of Lincoln on the Lincoln Monument against a silvery background:

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What kind of message is this image trying to portray about Underwood and the series as a whole?

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Related: –  Napoleon Wilson Mar 14 '14 at 13:04

2 Answers 2

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From dear Wikipedia

House of Cards is the story of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a Democrat from South Carolina's 5th congressional district and the House Majority Whip, who, after getting passed over for promotion to Secretary of State, decides to exact his revenge on those who betrayed him.

  • The Lincoln monument helps convey the political subject matter and the Washington DC setting.

  • Spacey's knuckles are bloody, as if he has been punching people -- helping the image tie in with the "exact his revenge" bit.

  • The upside-down US flag perhaps suggests the show is set at a time of crisis (upside-down flag is a sign for distress at sea, as troubled boats turn their flags upside-down) -- or perhaps that Spacey's character is using his position in US government toward twisted ends.

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Kevin Spacey is not the president, but Majority Whip (although he aspires to be president). - Not his knuckles, but his hands are bloody. 'Having blood on his hands' could allude to something he does in Episode 10. - There doesn't seem to be a national crises, at least nothing out of the ordinary. So the upside-down flag might refer to the way politics is made. –  Oliver_C Mar 4 '13 at 22:14
Argh, I haven't seen the show (my bad for commenting regardless) and I guess the graphic isn't as straightforward as I thought. Oliver_C, I think your comment might be a good answer itself... –  Shiz Z. Mar 4 '13 at 22:25
(edited my original answer) –  Shiz Z. Mar 4 '13 at 22:32
The meaning of the flag was also discussed here: –  Markus Klein Mar 14 '14 at 6:41

The issue of the upside-down flag has been answered elsewhere, so to expand Shiz Z.'s answer on the Lincoln Memorial reference, I would say that the blood in Underwood's hand suggests that he's a ruthless, maybe violent character. He's in the place of a former United States president, so he probably wants to be the president himself.

Lincoln symbolizes (as do the statue and the Memorial themselves) important values of American politics like democracy, freedom, and civil rights. Underwood in place of Lincoln could be a comparison in positive or negative/opposing aspects. The blood in his hands and over the statue indicates the second case, so Underwood seems to be the opposite of Lincoln: autocratic and having little respect for democratic values. Also, it may be an optical illusion (caused by the color of his clothes), but Underwood seems relatively small sitting in Lincoln's chair, as if he would be a lesser person/president than Lincoln.

Besides that, replacing Lincoln in the Memorial statue has been used before to provoke surprise and reflections about the importance of some characters in the history of a nation – remarkably, in The Planet of the Apes from 2001:

General Al Thade in place of Lincoln

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