Secret Invasion: Marvel faces backlash from artists and fans over AI-generated opening sequence

Show’s executive producer argued that the use of AI fitted into the show’s themes

Tom Murray
Thursday 22 June 2023 05:42 BST
Marvel's Kraven the Hunter trailer

Marvel is facing backlash from artists and fans alike over the opening credits scene to its new Disney+ series, Secret Invasion.

The series follows Samuel L Jackson’s Avengers founder Nick Fury and his allies as they attempt to thwart an invasion of extraterrestrial shapeshifters (Skrulls) on Earth.

Executive producer Ali Selim confirmed to Polygon on Wednesday (21 June), the day of the show’s release, that Secret Invasion’s opening sequence was created using Artificial Intelligence.

He said he believes that the decision helped play into the show’s themes: “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?”

Admitting that he didn’t “really understand” how AI works, Selim further explained: “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.”

However, many people have responded negatively to the sequence, arguing that the use of AI takes away work from real artists.

“This is salt in the wounds of all Artists and Writers in the WGA strike,” Jon Lam, a storyboard artist, wrote on Twitter.

“Said it before but I’ll say it again – we really went from Spiderverse celebrating the arts and artists to Secret Invasion spitting on us,” another wrote, comparing the new series to Marvel’s animated Spider-Man movie franchise, which required the work of 140 animators.

“Even ignoring the concerns over the MCU proudly dipping its toe into AI this early, the Secret Invasion MidJourney intro is repulsive,” a third wrote.

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“Genuinely embarrassing it was allowed to remain in the finished product. One of the more embarrassing moments of the streaming era.”

The Independent has contacted Disney+ for comment.

The use of AI in cinema has become a hot-button topic of late after stars such as Harrison Ford were digitally de-aged to appear as their younger selves in movies.

In a recent interview, Jackson weighed in on the prospect of his image being digitally re-created in films using CGI technology after his death.

“Ever since I’ve been in the Marvel Universe, every time you change costumes in a Marvel movie, they scan you,” he revealed. “Ever since I did Captain Marvel, and they did the Lola project where they de-aged me and everything else, it’s like, ‘Well, I guess they can do this anytime they want to do it if they really want to!’”

In Captain Marvel, Jackson was de-aged by three decades to approximate his appearance in the 1990s.

“It could be something to worry about,” the Pulp Fiction star continued. “Future actors should do what I always do when I get a contract and it has the words ‘in perpetuity’ and ‘known and unknown’ on it: I cross that s*** out.”

Secret Invasion is out now on Disney+.

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