Latest Hollywood Development Could Be the End for Many Marvel Stars

in Marvel, Movies, Television

Four Marvel characters including Elisabeth Olsen as Scarlett Witch, Charlie Cox as Daredevil, Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, and Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool.

Credit: Marvel Studios

The SAG-AFTRA strike announced on Thursday is historic, as the Screen Actors Guild joins the Writers Guild of America (WGA) on the picket lines for the first time in 60 years. President Fran Drescher said actors are the “victims” in the battle with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which they allege fights for unfair working conditions for actors.

Related: Disney, Warner Bros, Netflix, Universal, to Shut Down Film and Television Production Effective Immediately

The Walt Disney Company stands some of the most to lose from the strike as Hollywood production and promotion grind to a halt. Fans have voiced concern about what the strike could mean for already-delayed Star Wars, Avatar, and Marvel Studios productions.

As SAG-AFTRA publicizes its conditions for an agreement with the AMPTP, one stands out among the rest. Like the writers, striking actors are worried about using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in filmmaking. According to Rolling Stonea “dystopian” proposal from the studios would destroy new actors’ chances of breaking into the industry.

Fran Drescher announcing the SAG-AFTRA strike actors strike
Credit: NBC News

The AMPTP allegedly proposed that background actors could be “scanned, get paid for one day’s pay.” The studio would then “own that scan of their image, their likeness, and to be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want with no consent and no compensation.”

This would leave thousands of actors without work, without guaranteed residuals, and without qualifying hours to earn SAG-AFTRA health insurance and benefits.

SAG-AFTRA offered its own proposal in response, according to The Wrap:

  • Groundbreaking AI proposal which protects performers’ digital likenesses, including a requirement for performer’s consent for the creation and use of digital replicas or for digital alterations of a performance

What Does This SAG-AFTRA Dispute Mean for Marvel Studios?

Nick Fury shocked in Secret Invasion
Credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios famously spends millions on its star-studded casts. The Avengers: Endgame (2019) cast earned millions each for the film, with Robert Downey, Jr. allegedly taking home between $50 and $100 million. The film ultimately cost the studio $356 million – but stood behind Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), which cost $365 million, as the most expensive Marvel film ever made.

If Marvel could save on background actors, they certainly would. Disney CEO Bob Iger hasn’t shied away from commenting publicly on the SAG-AFTRA strike, calling actors’ demands “unrealistic” and “disruptive.” (Notably, Iger made $65 million in 2018 alone.)

While Marvel Studios hasn’t publicly confirmed that it would try to use AI to supplement background actors or writers, they’re nearly there already. The opening sequence to the Disney+ series Secret Invasion was created using AI art, drawing backlash from fans who believe creatives should be compensated adequately.

Marvel 'Secret Invasion' Intro AI art
Credit: Marvel

Inside the Magic will continue to report on the SAG-AFTRA strike and its impact on Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Studios, and more.

Can background actors be adequately replaced by AI? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments.

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