Marvel’s Secret Invasion, a new television series which launched on Disney+ this week, has received backlash online after it was revealed that its opening credits were generated by artificial intelligence.
In an interview with Polygon on Wednesday, director Ali Selim confirmed that AI operated by a company called Method Studios produced the opening sequence to the new series, which stars Samuel L Jackson as Marvel fixture Nick Fury.
According to Selim, the sequence, which features what look like metamorphosing watercolor renderings of the show’s major figures, was inspired by the show’s plot of shape-shifting “Skrulls” invading Earth.
“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?” he said.
Selim told the site that he didn’t “really understand” how artificial intelligence works, but was interested in how AI could translate a sense of foreboding he wanted for the series. “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.”
The revelation has caused a stir on social media, as it’s presumed that the use of AI on the opening credits precluded work for graphic designers and animators. “I’m devastated, I believe AI to be unethical, dangerous and designed solely to eliminate artists careers,” tweeted Jeff Simpson, who worked with the visual development team on Secret Invasion. “Spent almost half a year working on this show and had a fantastic experience working with the most amazing people I ever met …”
In another tweet, Jon Lam, a storyboard artist, called the decision “salt in the wounds of all Artists and Writers in the WGA strike”.
Lam referred to concerns about the use of AI as part of the ongoing negotiations between the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the striking Writers Guild of America. Recent WGA proposals have included protections against AI for writers; the use of AI to replace human labor has become a major talking point over the course of the eight-week strike.
In the Polygon interview, Selim took a more positive take on the technology as a potential artistic tool: “It felt explorative and inevitable, and exciting, and different.”
Some prospective viewers felt differently. “So Marvel really used AI to make the intro for Secret Invasion … it’s actually over,” tweeted film-maker Brian Long.
Another user wrote: “I really loved the first episode of secret invasion but them using AI ‘art’ for their intro is just wack. Do better Marvel.”
The news follows anger in May when publisher Bloomsbury admitted to using AI to create the book cover for Sarah J Maas fantasy novel House of Earth and Blood.