The world of Secret Invasion is decidedly sketchy. With thousands of shapeshifting Skrulls on Earth, you can’t trust what you think you’re seeing. One second, you’re looking at Nick Fury or an esteemed world leader; the next, you see their face morph into something (or someone) else entirely.
This is a description of the plot of the new Marvel Cinematic Universe show on Disney Plus (as well as its comic book counterpart), which follows Nick Fury as he uncovers — what else? — a secret invasion by the Skrull population on Earth. But the concept of shape-shifting is also seen in the series’ very different approach to its opening credits, which look like a sort of watercolor rendering of the key players and themes of Secret Invasion.
As we see a sort of jittery and ominous sequence of the Skrull green taking over more and more of the world, it looks a lot like if an AI was told to interpret the concept of “Skrull cubism” — which, actually, isn’t that far off of what it is. As director and executive producer Ali Selim tells Polygon, the intro sequence was designed by Method Studios using artificial intelligence, something he thinks plays with the very themes of the show.
“When we reached out to the AI vendors, that was part of it — it just came right out of the shape-shifting, Skrull world identity, you know? Who did this? Who is this?” Selim says.
Like many people, Selim says he doesn’t “really understand” how the artificial intelligence works, but was fascinated with the ways in which the AI could translate the sense of foreboding he wanted for the series. “We would talk to them about ideas and themes and words, 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.”
Method Studios did not respond to Polygon’s request for comment about how it designed the sequence. But the company has previously worked on Marvel shows like Ms. Marvel, Loki, and Moon Knight, in addition to Game of Thrones’ Battle of the Bastards and For All Mankind seasons 2 and 3.
The concept of AI art is certainly a hot-button topic at the moment, with concerns ranging from the rights of artists over their styles and how their work is used to the demands of those striking with the Writers Guild. But others, like Selim or Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa — a streamer using AI to build a chatbot version of herself — see AI as a tool that can prosper in the uncanny valley buffer of real life and artifice. In the case of Secret Invasion, Selim was excited by what Method Studios brought to the show: “It felt explorative and inevitable, and exciting, and different.”
Secret Invasion is hoping to make its own mark as a different kind of MCU project, leaning into the espionage and intrigue of projects like Captain America: The Winter Soldier as much as the connective lore tissue that binds all MCU projects. Whether you’re into it or not, one thing’s for certain: Secret Invasion’s approach to opening credits is unlike any other MCU show or movie to date.