We have been talking a lot about the positives, negatives, and integration of artificial intelligence in filmmaking here at No Film School a lot. While we firmly believe that AI should be a tool that doesn’t replace humans in creative roles, many studios, including Marvel Studios, seemingly don’t share the same sentiment.
This was made clear after Twitter user Brian Long tweeted AI-generated stills from the intro of Marvel’s latest Disney+ show, Secret Invasion. We will let you decide what your opinions on the intro are by letting you watch it below:
Why Did Marvel Use an AI-Generated Intro?
Secret Invasion is a world full of shapeshifting Skrulls on Earth. You can’t trust what you are seeing. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) could be an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. one minute, then his face can morph into something or someone else the next minute.
The MCU show is focused on blending reality with something else, something almost human but not quite. This could be one of the reasons Marvel chose to use AI, an almost human-like algorithm, to create the opening credits of the show.
Director and executive producer Ali Selim tells Polygon that “the intro sequence was designed by Method Studios using artificial intelligence, something he thinks plays with the very themes of the show.”
“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 says.
The issue with Selim’s take on creating an intro that highlighted the shapeshifting reality with AI-generated imagery feels misguided.
'Secret Invasion'Credit: Marvel StudiosSince last year, artists have been fighting against AI generators who cannot create original art. Instead, AI is great at shapeshifting art or artistic styles that already exist and fails to credit the artists that it used in the process. However, Selimsees AI as a tool that can eliminate the uncanny valley by merging real life and the artificial.
“It felt explorative and inevitable and exciting and different,” Selim said about working with Method Studios. However, Selim doesn’t seem to understand that AI generator art makes artists feel exploited and underappreciated at a time when the WGA is striking to protect their jobs from AI chatbots.
In the same Polygon interview, Selim simply states that “the computer would go off and do something.” Then, the team behind the sequence would tweak and alter the response with new prompts. According to the end credits, 12 VFX studios, including Method, worked on the show, which seems like an absurd amount of hands poking at an AI generator when animators could have created the perfect intro in seemingly the same amount of time.
This brings to light another issue, one that many of us have been nervous about. According to Secret Invasion’s end credits, only a handful of producers, an art director, an animator, an AI director, a VFX director, and a concept are mentioned. That’s not a lot of people working on this massive Marvel project.
The displacement of jobs for human artists, plagiarism from databases trained on unaccredited artwork, and more showcase that AI still doesn’t have the ethical boundaries to be integrated into large-scale productions from studios that can afford to hire creatives like you and me.
Secret Invasion’s title sequence crosses a scary line, one that we hope we can come back from.
What do you think of this AI-generated title sequence? Let us know in the comments below.