The latest MCU show on Disney+ has created a bit of a storm with its director confirming that AI was used to generate its title sequence.
Marvel can’t do right for doing wrong at the moment it seems, with its latest high-profile Disney+ launch, the Nick Fury vehicle Secret Invasion, creating a huge fuss online in the 24 hours since it dropped. Unfortunately for the House of Mouse that fuss has been less about the quality of the programming, which has only been deemed so-so by reviewers despite a fairly heavyweight cast and what looks to be an enormous budget, but due to the admission that its heavily stylised title sequence was created using AI.
Here’s what it looks like.
Image: Marvel Studios
The image credit is Marvel Studios but the gif was created by Polygon which broke the news of the AI involvement, director and executive producer Ali Selim confirming to the website that the intro sequence was designed by Method Studios using artificial intelligence.
“We would talk to them about ideas and themes and words, and then the computer would go off and do something. And then we could change it a little bit by using words, and it would change,” he said.
This has caused a fuss on socials to say the least, and is ill-timed by Marvel for several reasons. The first is that we are, as of time of writing, entering day 51 of the current WGA Writers' Strike. The threat of using generative AI to replace writers (and by extension other creatives) has gradually moved front and centre of the debate as the strike has continued, and this is exactly the sort of high profile usage that adds fuel to the fire.
Deadline thoughtfully rounded up a lot of the reaction, the non-sweary bits of which can be summed up by a tweet from storyboard artist Jon Lam, who wrote: “This is salt in the wounds of all Artists and Writers in the WGA strike.”
Damage limitation swung into action a few hours later with Method Studios releasing a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that said: “…it is crucial to emphasize that while the AI component provided optimal results, AI is just one tool among the array of toolsets our artists used. No artists’ jobs were replaced by incorporating these new tools; instead, they complemented and assisted our creative teams.”
We could be here for hours debating the merits of that argument and whether that will hold sway all the way down the chain. So far, social media doesn’t look like it’s been particularly mollified, however.
Perhaps more to the point though all this comes at a time when legislators are hurriedly looking at the fast-moving field and wondering whether it needs to be reigned in at the same sort of speed with which it developed. In the UK, regulator Ofcom has written to all broadcasters reminding them of the need to stick to the regulations in the Broadcasting Code and making specific reference to synthetic media’s role in misinformation and disinformation, trust and credibility degradation, and fairness and privacy.
“It is fundamental that both broadcasters and audiences can explore new and emerging technologies – including synthetic media - as they become an increasing part of our daily lives,” it writes. It goes on to advise all broadcast licensees: “to consider carefully whether their compliance processes need to be adapted or developed to account for the potential risks involved in the use of synthetic media technologies to create broadcast content.”
Risks Marvel Studios is finding all about at the moment…