Secret Invasion | Marvel used AI to create show’s title sequence

secret invasion ai

Marvel’s new Secret Invasion series uses AI to create a painterly landscape of invading Skrulls, its director has confirmed.


The latest entry in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, TV mini series Secret Invasion airs its first episode today (that’s 21 June).

Relating the plight of Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) as he attempts to protect Earth from an invasion of shape-shifting Skrulls, it’s billed as a slightly more mature shift in tone for the franchise. The Skrulls’ morphing abilities are illustrated in the series’ title sequence, which features painterly images of invading craft and city skylines all blending into one another.

There’s a shimmering quality to the sequence which looks uncannily like the kind of Midjourney-generated, AI imagery knocking around on the internet – because that’s exactly what it is. In an article on Polygon, it’s revealed that Secret Invasion's titles were outsourced to Method Studios, which has previously worked with Marvel on the likes of Loki and Moon Knight. Said sequence was, series director Ali Selim reveals, generated using artificial intelligence.

“We would talk to them [Method Studios] about ideas and themes and words,” Salim told Polygon, “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.”

Adding that he doesn’t “really understand” how the process works, Salim suggested that AI was used because it fits with the Skrull’s amorphous powers. “It just came right out of this shape-shifting, Skrull world identity,” the series’ director and executive producer said.

Marvel’s use of AI in Secret Invasion – the first such usage we’ve heard of from the studio – comes at a time when machine learning is beginning to encroach in all kinds of creative industries. In May, Blizzard revealed that it’s begun to use an image generator called Blizzard Diffusion to create concept art. Last week, the media firm behind Destructoid and Siliconera briefly posted and then deleted a job listing for an AI editor, whose daily tasks included using AI to generate dozens of pieces of writing per day.

The shift to AI is controversial because the systems scrape the internet for existing artwork, writing and other data. And, despite the variable quality of the content spat out by solutions like Midjourney or ChatGPT, companies are increasingly looking to use AI to save money – while at the same time, people in creative roles lose their jobs. Only yesterday, German newspaper Bild – the country’s equivalent to the UK’s Sun – announced that it’s to cut staff as it turns to AI tools to generate some of its news stories.

If AI continues its march into creative industries, the movies, TV shows, games and writing of the future will soon look and feel very different.

On social media, meanwhile, reactions to Secret Invasion's title sequence are already beginning to emerge. It’s fair to say they aren’t overwhelmingly positive.

Read more: Should we care whether AI is writing for games websites?

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