The opening sequence for Marvel’s Secret Invasion is apparently AI-generated and It honestly feels like another slap in the face to creators.
For those not in the know, the WGA AKA the Writers Guild of America is currently on strike. That means that all pens are down and that there is to be no writing done on current or upcoming shows or movies. And it’s definitely shaken up Hollywood. Delays have started happening, with the most recent one being Bad Bunny’s El Muerto. Writing has stopped for huge series like Stranger Things. And things like Netflix’s TUDUM event barely had anything. Even San Diego Comic-Con sounds even sadder with every day that passes because what do you bring to the world’s biggest convention when that convention is all about pop culture and all of your people that create this pop culture are on strike because you don’t pay them enough?!
The point is, creatives in Hollywood are already going through it. And one of the stipulations that they want to make sure is in their new contracts is the restriction of using AI in the creation of scripts. It’s a simple ask. It’s the difference between having a job and not having one because AI replaced you. Which, AI can never replace your trauma. But studios seem to think so because they are refusing to sign off on things like this stipulation. So finding out that Secret Invasion used AI to create its opening sequence feels like the studios are pushing forward into new spaces where they can take away jobs from other creatives that make Marvel what it is today.
I don’t buy the whole argument that this AI-generated opening sequence for Secret Invasion makes sense due to the topic at hand. It’s not because of what you think either. Because in a twisted way, it would be very Black Mirror to use AI on a show about someone pretending to be something they’re not aka humans. But the crux of it all is that the person who green-lit using AI for this opening sequence had no idea how AI works. According to Polygon, director and executive producer Ali Selim said that he doesn’t “really understand” how AI worked but that it “felt explorative and inevitable, and exciting, and different.”
When you consider that AI has become such a threat to the livelihood of people, especially as the WGA is fighting for better rights, this feels like a slap in the face. And for those that don’t think that this is so serious, there was just a news bit about an eating disorder hotline that when their staff decided to unionize they fired everybody and then replaced the hotline with AI. Problems immediately started when the AI suggested that they get on a diet. It was promptly shut down. It’s the same thing when you go and try to get help from your bank or even Amazon. It’s AI. You don’t reach anyone. And yes it might be easier on the pockets of companies but it will continue affecting the lives of those who need those positions for their livelihoods, for their families, and just to make it through the day.
So watching Marvel’s Secret Invasion so blatantly boast about using AI in the opening is a dangerous step forward. They are setting a precedent that it is okay to use AI instead of hiring artists. AI companies have already been fucking around with artists by taking their work without their permission and using it for art generators. And the only reason why the artists discovered this was because they used the app to check it out and found their own signature on some of the pieces generated. Even some books now are using it, with Sarah J. Maas getting absolutely trashed for using AI instead of an artist. But Marvel using AI in the space is a go-ahead for all other studios to do the same thing.
At the end of the day, who is going to watch your movies? Because I sure as shit probably won’t. Because I won’t have a job. And also because I honestly think it will get to a point where movies or shows will be written by AI, edited by AI, and even directed by AI. Hell, if we could learn anything from episode 1 of season 6 of Black Mirror, you don’t even need the actors on set. They could just sign a waiver for their image and shows can be created that way in the way that “Joan is Awful” was created. And it’s fucking terrifying. If all of that was “done by AI,” what’s left for creatives? And what makes you think that said creatives are going to be in a position to spend the money on movies or TV shows or subscriptions? Because if I had to choose, I’m not choosing any of those things and if I do want to watch something, it’s not going to be in a way that doesn’t give companies clicks.
Ultimately, I hope that the studios buck up and listen. Because right now their ignorance of the dangers of using AI for everything…it’s giving ‘I’m more worried about my bottom line than making sure that we have a vibrant and working economy that puts food on people’s tables.’ You know, food that keeps people alive. That money is also used for homes to keep people safe. Not to mention clothes, medicine, and any other little life expenses that come along like cars or transportation. And at one point, if you push people enough they’re going to get tired and they’re going to push back. And the first ones that are going to be out are the rich. Or the way that 2023 is going, who the fuck knows if at one point even directors or CEOs won’t matter because it’ll be run by computers with one person at the top. I guess that’s when rich people will finally worry. When it happens to them.
Let’s hope that bleak Black Mirror-esque future doesn’t happen. Because this isn’t doomsday bullshit or me yelling on a soapbox. People need money to buy things to survive. If all of those jobs are gone then they have no money to feed themselves. It’s as simple as that. And you know what happens when they don’t have money to feed themselves. You die or you eat the rich. The latter seems more appealing.