Marvel’s latest series, “Secret Invasion,” made its debut on Disney+ today, sparking tons of backlash after it was confirmed the intro sequence was AI-generated.
“Secret Invasion” director Ali Selim admitted to Polygon that the opening credits were designed by VFX company Method Studios using artificial intelligence. Selim didn’t say which AI tool was used. Selim described the generative AI tool to Polygon, but confessed that he didn’t “really understand” how it works. He said the team would feed the system “ideas and themes and words,” which would then “Go off and do something. And then we could change it a little bit by using words, and it would change,” Selim added.
Update 6/22/23: Method Studios told The Hollywood Reporter that the team used custom AI tools to create the “characters’ attributes and movements” in the credits, but “No artists’ jobs were replaced by incorporating these new tools; instead, they complemented and assisted our creative teams,” the company said in a statement. While AI was used to help make the opening, the overall production involved an actual art department. In the end credits of the first episode, there’s mention of an AI technical director, animator, VFX technical director, art director and a creative lead.
“The production process was highly collaborative and iterative, with a dedicated focus on this specific application of an AI toolset,” added Method Studios. “It involved a tremendous effort by talented art directors, animators (proficient in both 2D and 3D), artists, and developers, who employed conventional techniques to craft all the other aspects of the project. However, it is crucial to emphasize that while the AI component provided optimal results, AI is just one tool among the array of toolsets our artists used.”
Artists are increasingly worried that AI creations will not only discredit their work but also threaten their livelihoods. Generative AI takes millions of images made by actual people to create a hodgepodge of art that once took someone hours, days, months or even years to produce.
To have Marvel — a multibillion-dollar studio — use AI tech doesn’t look good for them. Especially since this particular opening sequence will likely be seen by millions of viewers.
Many artists took to Twitter to express their frustrations, including Jeff Simpson, who worked as a visual development concept artist on “Secret Invasion.”
“’Secret Invasion’ intro is AI-generated,” Simpson wrote. “I’m devastated, I believe AI to be unethical, dangerous and designed solely to eliminate artists’ careers. Spent almost half a year working on this show and had a fantastic experience working with the most amazing people I ever met…”
Brian Long, an independent filmmaker, tweeted:
While AI has played a role in other Disney content, such as the de-aging of Harrison Ford in the new “Indiana Jones” movie, this is the first time that a Marvel TV show has used the technology.
Marvel has yet to publicly respond to the criticism.