Was the Marvel cast just replaced with AI for ‘Secret Invasion’
Do you remember when Marvel was just a comic book brand? That memory seems light years away now, considering how the Disney-owned powerhouse has evolved into an inescapable titan in the pop culture universe. As much as it’s revered for its splashy on-screen spectacles, Marvel has made an equally big impact behind the scenes, shaping how movies and TV shows are made with its technological prowess.
Marvel’s shiny new Disney Plus series, Secret Invasion, has ventured into territory that’s causing quite a stir. For the first time, Marvel openly utilizes AI-generated art. The move is stirring up a bit of controversy, especially given Marvel’s past issues with visual effects (VFX) workers and the looming concerns about AI’s potential harm to human artists – especially the cast.
The show, which features Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury dealing with shape-shifting alien refugees-turned-terrorists, the Skrulls, utilizes an impressive credits sequence. Created with machine learning tools, the sequence exhibits a flurry of morphing faces and cityscapes, offering a peek into the invasion the show’s narrative explores.
While Marvel’s unique approach to credits sequences has typically intrigued audiences, this move into AI technology has raised eyebrows. After the first episode aired, it was revealed by executive producer Ali Salim, in a conversation with Polygon, that the VFX company Method Studios had employed AI tools to create the sequence.
This sparked an immediate uproar, particularly from artists wary of AI’s growing prevalence and its potential to outpace their skills. This not only affects the cast but the entire staff of movies in the future.
As the news spread, both audiences and industry professionals alike expressed their displeasure, particularly troubled by the implication that this may foreshadow an industry where artists are made redundant by machines. And that is a conversation that artists like Jeff Simpson, a concept artist on Secret Invasion, have been concerned about for some time.
Reactions and revenge
In response to the backlash, Method Studios insisted that their creative process was directed by expert art direction and no jobs were lost due to AI usage on the show. However, the fear of a future where human artists are made redundant persists. Moreover, some have criticized the AI-generated sequence as cheap-looking and not befitting a Marvel production.
Comparisons have been drawn with Westworld, which incorporated AI-created visuals in its third season opening credits. However, Westworld avoided the backlash that Marvel has received. Is it due to the difference in show themes, audience perception of the cast, or perhaps a change in public sentiment towards AI-generated images?
The controversy surrounding Secret Invasion’s credits sequence is a microcosm of the larger debate regarding the intersection of AI and creative arts. Marvel’s latest series may be a sign of things to come – a glimpse into the future of an industry where technology doesn’t just assist the artists, but also challenges them.
Marvel’s recent projects, like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, She-Hulk, and Ms. Marvel, have shown that high expectations and tight deadlines can result in compromised visual effects. These projects, coupled with Secret Invasion, suggest a growing reliance on technology, potentially threatening the role of human artists as part of the cast.