The Avengers finally made it to the big screen in 2012, but the live-action production based on the Marvel comics was a long time coming. What if it had been made earlier and instead of Robert Downey Junior, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson, we had a cast of some of the biggest stars of the 1990s?
Well, this is one of those exercises that no longer has to remain in the imagination now that the latest AI text-to-image generators (see how to use DALL-E 2) can create pretty much any visual concept we could think of. And sure enough, someone's tried using AI to see what a 90s version of The Avengers would look like.
Posted by the digital creator Word Play on Instagram and Reddit, these AI-generated reimaginings of The Avengers star Tom Cruise as Iron Man, Brad Pitt as Thor and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Hulk. We also have Bruce Willis as Captain America, Milla Jovovich as Black Widow, Will Smith as Black Panther and Jim Carrey as Loki (yes, really).
The images were created using Midjourney, a text-to-image generator based on Discord, which has recently overcome the problems that occur with AI-generated hands. Their creator says AI made it possible to realise something that had long been on their mind.
"I chose the cast long before Midjourney gave me the tools to create these images," they said on Reddit. "I always thought, what would a 90s producer choose in the climate of the 90s film industry, rather than who would be the best choice. Although some of these would make for some knee-slapping B movies."
Fans seem to like some of the choices. "Damn I wanna live in that timeline," one person responded on Reddit. "Using AI to generate photos of hypothetical films or actually planned but cancelled is like having a multiversal TV magazine," someone else wrote.
Others wonder how long it will be before AI can be used to actually generate a real 90s Avengers film. "When we reach production level with the AI models, no one's going to use real actors anymore," one person warns, offering an interesting forecast: "Future AI models have more and more generated data and consequentially less and less real data in their training sets. Errors in the generated data will add up until the new models become unusable. That's when the demand for new original data will raise again and real acting will experience some kind of renaissance."