Secret Invasion AI

AI Generates Images and Controversy for Marvel TV Show

Image via MarvelThe Marvel TV show Secret Invasion on Disney Plus includes AI-generated art for its credit sequence, designed by Method Studios for the show. The revelation of generative AI behind some of the visuals of the show has renewed some controversy around employing AI-created art, even as it signals the total mainstreaming of the concept.


The idea of AI-generated art with a high enough quality for big-budget movies and TV shows is less than a year old, yet has already hit the most widely absorbed center of media today, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, under the aegis of its Disney parent corporation. That’s remarkable enough even before looking at the issues surrounding that decision. Concern about what it might mean for human artists prompted Method Studios, which has worked on several Marvel shows before this, to respond in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that explained how the decision to use AI-generated art came not from wanting to avoid using human designers, but because AI “perfectly aligned with the project’s overall theme and the desired aesthetic.” The company also emphasized the work of artists and developers in utilizing the AI tool and how there were no job losses from the decision.  and that it didn’t impact any jobs.

“The production process was highly collaborative and iterative, with a dedicated focus on this specific application of an AI toolset. It involved a tremendous effort by talented art directors, animators (proficient in both 2D and 3D), artists, and developers, who employed conventional techniques to craft all the other aspects of the project,” Method said in the statement. “However, 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.”

AI Art Fight

The worry expressed by artists and other creative professionals doesn’t come out of nowhere. There have already been philosophical and legal fights over synthetic media and its deployment as a way to circumvent human creators. Netflix recently used AI-generated images for the background art for the animated The Dog & The Boy short in Japan in partnership with Attack on Titan producer WIT Studio and synthetic media developer Rinna. The film’s backgrounds used human-drawn storyboard art with the AI expounding upon the initial images, refining it, and making it fit for the filmmakers to layer the characters on top.

There are also questions about the models used for training an AI and if they violate copyright rules. Getty Images filed a complaint against generative AI service and Stabe Diffusion creator Stability AI about exactly that with London’s High Court of Justice, while also joining a group of artists who lodged a class action lawsuit in California against Stability AI, along with Stable Diffusion platforms Midjourney and DeviantArt. Those cases are both about the copyrighted images amongst the billions of pictures used to train Stable Diffusion. That includes the open-source LAION-5B dataset AI model and the images Stability scraped from the web, including Getty’s servers, without their creators’ awareness. That’s why also why more recent text-to-image tools built by Shutterstock, Canva, and Adobe, among others, cite training that only uses art they have permission to use.

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