As the Hollywood writers’ strike passes the 50-day mark, Marvel has delivered a timely, if unwelcome, example of one of its principal grievances: the unregulated use of artificial intelligence in America’s film industry.
News that the opening credits for the Disney+ miniseries , which debuted on June 21, had been created using A.I. prompted fierce backlash across social media and indeed from within the world of production itself.
Early viewers had been uneasy about the two-minute introductory sequence in which the show’s humans, aliens, and locations morphed together. It turns out, A.I. was used in its making, a fact confirmed by show’s director Ali Salim in an interview with Polygon.
— Brian Long (@BrianLongFilms) June 21, 2023
The series, which stars Samuel L. Jackson, is about a shapeshifting alien race, the Skrulls, that invades Earth. Marvel’s decision to deploy A.I. in its opening seems to have been a playful attempt to reflect the plot.
“When we reached out to the A.I. vendors, that was part of it,” Salim said. “It just came right out of the shape-shifting, Skrull world identity, you know? Who did this? Who is this?”
The credits were created by Method Studios, which developed the credits for Marvel’s 2021 and has also worked on the and series. Salim said that although he doesn’t understand how A.I. image generators work, he was keen for the sequence to be “exciting and different.”
The controversy arrives at a moment of peak anxiety for workers across a range of creative industries regarding the potential for A.I. to devalue and steal their labor. This sentiment was captured by a tweet from Jeff Simpson, a visual development concept artist. “ intro is A.I. generated,” he wrote. “I’m devastated, I believe A.I. to be unethical, dangerous and designed solely to eliminate artists careers.”
It’s not the first time in recent memory Marvel has been criticized for its treatment of off-screen creatives. Last year, there were widespread reports that Marvel has cultivated toxic relationships with many of the visual effects houses it works with.