AI-Generated Secret Invasion Intro Sparks Outrage Among Marvel Artists And Fans

Secret Invasion, the newest Marvel comic book TV series, debuted on Disney+ on Wednesday. However, several fans and creators are upset over using AI-generated motion graphics during the title sequence. Christian Ward, a Marvel comic artist who worked on the character Black Bolt, tweeted that it was horrible for Marvel, whose entire empire is based on artists’ work, to do this.

For those unfamiliar, Samuel L. Jackson plays Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) series Secret Invasion. The “Skrulls” are a group of shape-shifting aliens that have infiltrated Earth, leading Talos and Fury, who were once an ally of the Skrulls, to take action. The story examines the tension and mistrust brought on by the Skrulls’ ability to change their shape, which casts suspicion on everyone’s true identity.

AI-Generated Secret Invasion Intro Sparks Outrage
AI-Generated Secret Invasion Intro Sparks Outrage

According to Polygon, the show’s creators believe that the title sequence’s melty, flowing, somewhat abstract AI-generated aesthetic—which the AI model identified as “Skrull cubism”—is appropriate given that the series centers on shape-shifting aliens who are secretly posing as people.

According to Secret Invasion Executive Producer Ali Selim in an interview with Polygon, “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?” Selim said they hired Method Studios, a visual effects company, to produce the opener.

Given how AI-generated imagery is typically created, some artists take it quite seriously. Stable Diffusion and Midjourney are two image synthesis algorithms that use neural networks trained on millions of pieces of art illegally downloaded from websites. These models can also mimic the techniques of human painters, which some artists fear would undermine their ability to make a living if machines ever supplant them.

We have regularly covered protests, legal battles, contentious contest victories, and various bans brought about by the advent of image synthesis over the past nine months. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising to see complaints and threats to cancel Disney+ subscriptions on social media. But this time, even Marvel-related individuals are speaking out.

Concept artist Jeff Simpson personally worked on the Secret Invasion TV series for Marvel, who tweeted, “Secret Invasion entrance is AI-generated. I’m heartbroken because I think artificial intelligence is immoral, hazardous, and only intended to end artists’ careers. I worked on this show for about six months and had the best time working with the most incredible people I have ever met. He stressed that he had nothing to do with the AI-generated intro in a subsequent tweet.

Many observers had noted that Marvel’s AI technique resembles “early” (roughly from before late 2022) era image-synthesis models, such as DeepDream, an early version of Midjourney, or VQGAN-CLIP, but morphed and animated using another tool that blended individually generated frames. This is because the intro’s imagery appears archaic compared to the latest image-synthesis developments. Notably, Method Studios declined to speak to Polygon about the technology the studio employed to produce the scenario.

David Blatt: It’s terrifying that Secret Invasion is Marvel’s first A.I.-created project.

While some artists are offended, others believe that using AI art in this context feels oddly appropriate—while still making fun of AI-generated art. Ray Anderson noted that the fact that the project SECRET INVASION, which is solely built on lying and espionage, uses AI for its introduction, given that AI has earned a reputation for likewise being dishonest, should not be surprising.

The voice actor LittleKuriboh made a jest in response to this frequently made argument that has been making the rounds on social media all day: “Look, if skrulls were as easy to detect as AI art is, the secret invasion would’ve lasted until suppertime on day zero.”

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