It looks like Marvel may have been caught red-handed using artificial intelligence again in projects, as the recent promotional poster for Loki appears to have some AI generation at play. Collider reported on a post by X user Katria, an author and illustrator, who notes that the poster appears to have a generated image pulled from a stock photo. It wouldn’t be surprising if this is the case, as it isn’t the first time Marvel and Disney have pulled something like this.
An illustrator on X identified the background image of the Loki Season 2 poster as pulled from a stock image and seemingly manipulated through AI.
Raden also posted a stock image from Shutterstock that appears to be what the artificial intelligence is pulling from called “Surreal Infinity Time Spiral Space Antique.” Raden said, “Licensing photos and illustrations on stock sites has been a way many hard-working artists have been earning a living,” adding, “I don’t think replacing them with generated imagery via tech built on mass exploitation and wage theft is any more ethical than replacing Disney’s own employees.” If the Loki poster is using AI, it couldn’t come at a worse time in Hollywood.
While the WGA strike finally ended with favorable terms for the writers that set restrictions on the use of AI (amongst other changes), the actor’s union is still on strike for similar reasons. While the Loki poster using artificial intelligence isn’t replacing actors or writers, it likely is taking work or pay from visual artists, especially if the AI was trained by taking Shutterstock images. More and more visual artists are also currently working toward unionizing, with Disney VFX artists unanimously voting to do so just yesterday.
The opening credits to Secret Invasion were also done with AI, proving Disney, with the Loki Season 2 poster, hasn’t learned from the initial public backlash.
If the Disney and Marvel in-house VFX artists are able to unionize, they’ll also be able to fight for restrictions on artificial intelligence along with voting for better pay, benefits, working conditions, and more. Disney also recently came under fire for using artificial intelligence before this potential Loki debacle when the studio used AI to help create the opening title cinematic for the recent Disney+ series Secret Invasion. Marvel and Secret Invasion director Ali Selim also justified the use of artificial intelligence by saying that the generated images matched the themes and unease of the shape-shifting Skrulls in the series.
Of course, Marvel and the director justifying the use of artificial intelligence rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, especially as the strikes were going on. Even if people buy into this explanation, there wouldn’t be any good reason for the Loki series to use AI, especially if it’s just for a promo poster.
It remains to be seen if any other parts of Loki are AI-generated, given Disney’s alleged use of scanning the faces of background extras.
The issue is especially enraging people with the fact that Disney is a multi-billion dollar corporation, so there’s really no reason to be cutting costs when artists could potentially have been paid for the work.
If the Loki poster is revealed to be AI-generated, it will be interesting if Disney and Marvel also formulate a response to justify its use in the poster. It’s hard seeing an angle where they could say it was something artistic or worthwhile when it seems like a blatant copy of a stock image. With Marvel having plenty more projects coming out in the near future, we’ll just have to wait and see if the company continues to use artificial intelligence or if it will learn from the Secret Invasion and Loki controversies.