Marvel Uses AI For Secret Invasion And It’s Awful

Disney uses AI-generated artwork to create Secret Invasion's opening credit scene.

By Zack Zagranis | Published

AI art from Secret Invasion

In a situation so meta, it’s scary, Marvel’s new Secret Invasion series about aliens secretly replacing humans has employed AI—something artists worry will secretly start to replace them—for its opening sequence. While Polygon reports that the credits sequence is purposely meant to look janky and uncanny to fit with the themes of the series, it still sets a very dangerous precedent in the entertainment world.

At a time when writers are striking for not just fair wages but the regulation of AI technology in relation to the creative community, how can this be seen as anything but Disney confirming artists’ worst fears?

Secret Invasion follows Nick Fury as he deals with the infiltration of shapeshifting Skrulls into human society. Given the current landscape of ChatGPT-written Seinfield scripts and artificially generated TikToks with names like “Breaking Bad with Smurfs” it’s hard not to draw a parallel between Secret Invasion‘s paranoid world where anybody could be a fake and the impending integration of completely AI-generated content.

According to Secret Invasion director and executive producer Ali Selim, the AI intro sequence was created by VFX company Method Studios and is a translation of the “foreboding” he wanted for the show. The company has previously worked on Marvel series Ms. Marvel, as well as Loki, Moon Knight, and several others, presumably without the help of artificial intelligence.

More AI-generated art from Secret Invasion

Selim admitted that he doesn’t “really understand” how AI works. The director confessed that he would mention “ideas, and themes, and words,” and the computer would “go off and do something.” Selim explained how he would then use new words, and the AI would generate a new result.

The part of the equation the Secret Invasion exec neglected to mention is, of course, all the art and resources generated by other humans that Method’s AI no doubt combed through in order to educate itself to a level where it could “go off and do something” like the Disney+ show’s opening.

Credit and compensation have long been one of the main issues that creators have with AI. The learning process for most AI engines consists of sifting through millions—if not billions—of images, videos, and texts online that were created by real, living, breathing people. People who are unknowingly contributing to their own obsolescence with nothing in the way of acknowledgment, either monetary or otherwise.

It’s a situation that Marvel Studios, in particular, should be more than familiar with. Ever since they started making content largely based on Marvel’s own comics—or in the case of Secret Invasion and its AI credit scene, directly based on—Disney has been accused of not giving proper credit to the artists who originally created the characters and stories the company is making billions off of. Films like Thor: Love and Thunder have featured whole scenes recreated shot for shot from comic panels.

It’s such an issue that Jack Kirby, the man arguably just as responsible, if not more so, for the creation of Marvel’s most popular characters and early stories than Stan Lee, isn’t even a household name, unlike his much chattier partner.

For now, the Secret Invasion AI opening remains an anomaly among high-profile streaming projects. For how long, though, is anyone’s guess. Netflix’s latest season of Black Mirror features an episode starring Salma Hayek called “Joan is Awful,” which serves as a satirical but chilling blueprint on what to expect from entertainment in the future, and it’s not particularly comforting.

To paraphrase Marvel’s own Thanos, AI-created content is inevitable.

robert downey jr

Subscribe For

Marvel News

Expect a confirmation email if you Subscribe.