Disney Faces Major Backlash as Marvel Show Accused of Using Hidden AI

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Tom Hiddleston as Loki

Credit: Marvel Studios

Is using AI in Hollywood ever a good idea?

Kang the Conqueror with the cast of Endgame in the background
Credit: Inside the Magic

Avengers: Marvel’s Favorite Duo Will Reunite, ‘Loki’ Producer Speaks Out

For years now, Kevin Feige has steered The Walt Disney Company’s Marvel Studios as its President, overseeing the superhero juggernaut inspired by Marvel Comics and leaving an indelible mark on the film industry through the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The apex of the MCU’s Phase Three was marked by the release of Avengers: Infinity War in 2018 and Avengers: Endgame in 2019, signifying a monumental triumph for the franchise.

These films showcased the remarkable growth of the genre and firmly solidified its position in the world of entertainment. The conclusion of this era also marked the end of the initial three phases of the MCU, collectively known as the Infinity Saga.

The Avengers original lineup featuring Hulk, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, and Nick Fury
Credit: Marvel Studios

After Robert Downey Jr.’s heroic sacrifice as Iron Man/Tony Stark and Chris Evans as Steve Rogers passing on the Captain America mantle, the Marvel Cinematic Universe now faces even greater trials. The Avengers are on the verge of confronting immense challenges as the franchise expands into the Multiverse Saga, spanning Phase Four, Phase Five, and Phase Six. This epic narrative journey will climax with Avengers 5 and Avengers 6, titled Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars.

However, as reports of superhero fatigue persist, new revelations might just give fans another reason to skip Marvel Studios projects.

Steve Rogers talking to Sam Wilson in Avengers: Endgame
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Everything Marvel Made in 2022, Ranked

Disney Faces Fan Scrutiny and Backlash

Following the landmark success of the recent WGA strike (Writers Guild of America), Hollywood’s writers managed to score a groundbreaking decision with the major Hollywood studios (Disney included) — where the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the writer’s room could no longer be mandated by those same studios.

With the use of AI clearly defined in ways that benefited writers’ original creativity, it seemed like the days of studios using AI freely in their TV and movies was over.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Mobius (Owen Wilson) in 'Loki' S2
Credit: Marvel Studios

Now however, it seems like The Walt Disney Company might be attempting to use AI on the down-low — if fan speculation is to be believed.

Recently, user Millie Fangs shared the following tweet from Discussing Film about the second season of Loki being the only Marvel project sans additional photography. They added some interesting context (and accusation) — that Disney and Marvel’s assets in this Loki 2 poster were in fact “AI generated”, adding that it could not be “that hard to download stock images of a clock”:

Millie Fangs: Assets in this poster are A.I generated. :/

(in quote tweet) Discussing Film: ‘LOKI’ Season 2 is the first MCU project to never have any additional photography.

(Source: https://variety.com/2023/tv/news/loki-season-2-jonathan-majors-ke-huy-quan-mcu-future-1235742792/)

(continued) Millie Fangs: Is it that hard to download stock images of a clock?

Near instantly, members of the general public reacted. Users like @andromelispads seemed to agree, adding that there were further indications of AI usage in the Loki poster.

They stated that the actors featured on the poster appeared to be “3D model(s)”, and potentially utilizing the “actors scans” that Marvel allegedly took of actors during the filming of prior Marvel projects for “VFX purposes”:

@andromelispads: The guy also looks like a 3D model, probably from those actors scans that the strikes mentioned.

Millie Fangs: I think so, too.

The SAG-AFTRA strike had previously brought to light issues of major studios using AI and body scans of actors without their knowledge. This accusation comes at a time when actors are currently striking — like the WGA, in the hopes of a fairer deal in rights and pay with the advent of AI technologies and lackluster streaming residuals.

But where are these “evidences of AI generation”, exactly?

Well, other users were also quick to point them out. @MoonHunt128 in particular noticed several glitched-looking portions of the clock behind Loki’s head in the background of the poster:

I don’t see the problem he- oh…

Fans looked even closer — with @chomper94 bringing up an image of the Roman numeral IIII used (with distorted lines around it) compared to the more typical IV numeral. Another user @luferreiroroche quickly bunked it, however:

@chomper94: I thought it wasn’t AI generated, but when I looked closely at the Roman numerals on the clock, I have everything I need.

@luferreiroroche: IIII was actually a thing tbh, the AI indicator are the weird glitches yoy can find on the clock and symbols above the roman numbers

With none of the V numerals looking more-or-less-the same, the precedence for the stealthy use of AI continues to rise.

User Diva Princess candidly call the company out:

Because god forbid actual experienced 3D artists get the opportunity to work for or at the very least get commissioned by Disney for promotional art 🤦🏾

Finally, users like @VMahughMann openly called out Disney for “wast[ing] millions” in other areas, only for them to lazily utilize AI instead of hiring an artist to produce the work:

Disney can waste millions on characters/alien/monsters designs just to be used for 2 seconds worth of screen time?

Yet they can’t hire someone to draw a clock spiral around Tom’s head?

Finally, it seems like members of the public are also willing to stand against Disney by boycotting their streaming platform, Disney+. @Notsonorm cites how it’s “never been easier” to unsubscribe:

With this, the prices raising and no more password sharing in November; it’s never been easier to unsubscribe. Just hope people have the spines to actually unsubscribe like they say they will

With public perception definitely souring, it seems like Marvel will have to actively do things to change the public’s stance on the matter — especially where Artificial Intelligence is concerned.

Do you think it’s a problem that Disney and Marvel Studios could be quietly using AI? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

More on Loki

In 2021, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) introduced the beloved TV series Loki on Disney+ (Disney Plus). Under the leadership of showrunner Eric Martin and directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, written by Michael Waldron, the inaugural season of the show revolved around Loki Laufeyson/Loki Odinson. Tom Hiddleston portrayed this mischievous Asgardian God, who also happened to be a Multiversal Loki Variant of the original Loki from a different timeline. This Loki embarked on a time-altering journey to unravel the mystery of the “Sacred Timeline” after the events of Avengers: Endgame, which commenced when he escaped with the Tesseract during the Avengers’ intricate time-travel mission.

In Loki Season 2, Tom Hiddleston reprises his role as Loki, charged with the task of restoring the timeline after the chaos of the previous season. Sophia Di Martino returns as Sylvie, the one responsible for triggering the Multiverse. Familiar faces making a comeback include Gugu Mbatha Raw as Ravonna Renslayer, Wunmi Mosaku Hunter B-15, and Owen Wilson as Mobius M Mobius. Joining the cast for the new season are Jonathan Majors as Victor Timely (an alternate Kang Variant of Kang the Conqueror) and Ke Huy Quan as Ouroboros (OB).

The ensemble for the upcoming season also features Eugene Cordero as Casey/Hunter K-5E, Rafael Casal as Brad Wolfe, Tara Strong as Miss Minutes, the animated TVA mascot. Additionally, Kate Dickie, Liz Carr, and Neil Ellice take on undisclosed roles. The season is set to premiere on October 5, 2023.

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