Marvel’s new Disney+ series “Secret Invasion,” premiered recently, and it has received some backlash. Fans are frustrated that Marvel chose to use AI technology to create the art featured in the opening credits of the television series, rather than employing real artists.
Director and executive producer of the series, Ali Selim, spoke to Polygon about their use of AI in the opening sequence, “When we reached out to the AI vendors, that was part of it — it just came right out of the shape-shifting, Skrull world identity, you know? Who did this? Who is this?”
Selim stated that he believed that the use of AI fit the themes of the show, which involves Earth being invaded by the shape-shifting alien race called the Skrulls. Though Selim admitted he doesn’t quite “understand” how the AI featured in the opening credits works, he spoke a little regarding how the team at Method Studios created the sequence.
“We would talk to them about ideas and themes and words, and then the computer would go off and do something. And then we could change it a little bit by using words, and it would change,” Selim stated.
Following the drop of the first episode, fans and film industry professionals alike took to Twitter to express their frustrations over the choice to use AI rather than hiring artists, considering the rise of AI is threatening to replace workers in many fields.
For example, Jon Lam, an artist with credits on X-Men and Valorant, used the platform to highlight the Writer’s Guild of America Strike. The Guild is currently striking for a contract that also includes protections against AI replacing its members. AI poses a threat to working artists because putting a simple prompt into a machine is much faster and more affordable than paying workers.
“I will be boycotting Secret Invasion,” Lam wrote on Twitter. “A slap in the face of artists and the WGA strike.”
In their proposed contract, the WGA requested that “AI can’t write or rewrite literary material,” “can’t be used as source material,” and that “MBA-covered material can’t be used to train AI”. The organization’s concern is that AI could be used to write scripts, with writers only being hired at reduced rates to polish an AI-generated script.
Animation and video footage produced using generative AI tends to be distinctive, usually featuring textures ranging from cloudy to smooth plastic and images that melt into one another. AI-generated images lack artistic intent because they’re generated by a machine incapable of understanding the context of a project. It is also controversial because the technology is trained using the work of other artists, without their consent.
Some critiques of the opening sequence have also pointed out flaws in the AI’s work- citing the image of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury with missing teeth and two not-quite-eyepatches. Many upset fans are comparing this sequence to the recently released Across the Spiderverse film, which is teeming with the work of many artists and a variety of artistic styles.
Marvel was also at the center of controversy from working artists last year when some VFX artists spoke out about the working conditions they had experienced while working for the franchise.