Secret Invasion: Marvel uses AI opening, sparks fan and artist outrage

The opening sequence of Marvel's Secret Invasion has been produced using AI techniques.
Sejal Sharma
A screenshot of Secret Invasion's opening sequence
A screenshot of Secret Invasion's opening sequence


The first episode of Marvel’s Secret Invasion aired on June 21 on Disney+ and managed to court controversy in the first 24 hours. Fans and artists are up in arms over the opening credits, which feature art created by artificial intelligence (AI)-generated imagery.

And while the use of AI might be at par with today’s tech discourse, given how popular it has become, people are a little upset. What has surprised everyone is the fact that Marvel - a multibillion-dollar studio - has a VFX team in-house but is instead sourcing the capabilities of AI from an outside company.

To sum up, the new series is an addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), featuring the charismatic Nick Fury, portrayed by the talented Samuel L. Jackson, as its lead character. The plot revolves around the invasion of Earth by shape-shifting aliens known as "Skrulls" and showcases Fury and his team's valiant efforts in countering this extraterrestrial threat.

How did Marvel use AI?

Marvel recently also came under fire for overworking and underpaying VFX studios, with artists last year calling Marvel the "worst" studio to work for.

Director and executive producer of Secret Invasion, Ali Selim, confirmed the use of AI in its intro sequence to Polygon. The sequence was designed by Method Studios using AI tools, although they didn’t mention which tools specifically.

“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? Who did this? Who is this?” said Selim.

Agreeing that he has little idea about how exactly generative AI works, Selim added, “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.”

“AI is just one tool among the array of tool sets our artists used. No artists’ jobs were replaced by incorporating these new tools; instead, they complemented and assisted our creative teams,” said Method in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

Artists fear for their jobs

Artists fear AI will be used to save money and eventually replace them. The same concern has been shrouding Hollywood over the last couple of months. Over 10,000 scriptwriters and TV series writers have been protesting since early May. The strike has gathered momentum, with demonstrations in London, Los Angeles, Paris, and even New Zealand.

The strike results from a significant stand-off between big Hollywood producers and writers, demanding better pay and protection from the risk that AI might replace them.

While Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker said that AI tools like ChatGPT are ‘shit’ at writing scripts, the risks surrounding companies replacing their human resources with AI are not unfounded. Big tech companies like IBM have already announced that they will replace 7,800 jobs with AI.