Disney insists controversial Loki poster wasn't made with AI

Loki Season 2 poster
(Image credit: Disney)

As AI-generated art becomes increasingly ubiquitous, we're seeing more and more instances of high profile brands getting called out for using it, whether as part of book covers or posters. And now even Disney has managed to anger artists by apparently using an AI-generated asset as part of the key art for Loki season 2.

A promotional poster for the new series features a spiralling clock in the background which eagle-eyed viewers believe was generated using artificial intelligence. From seemingly meaningless shapes to inconsistent styling, the hallmarks are there – and several AI image checkers seem to have confirmed that image, apparently taken from Shutterstock, is AI-generated. 

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The Shutterstock image, catchily titled 'Surreal infinity time spiral in space', isn't actually marked as AI-generated, even though one Twitter user ran four tests, three of which came back as 'AI positive' (is that the right terminology? I'm using it now). And if it is AI-generated, then it's even violating Shutterstock's own rules, which state that AI-generated images can only be licensed on the platform if created using Shutterstock AI

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But while plenty of social media users are complaining about the apparent use of AI art, others don't see it as such a big deal. "Oh no, employees of an industry-leading entertainment enterprise are using tools that speed up and create better entertainment," one Reddit user comments. But another adds, "But that's the whole point: it's not better. Can you honestly say you can't tell the difference between 2 hours in an AI generator and something that's been created from the ground up to match the aesthetics of the show?"

AI-generated image of a clock

The stock image was found on Shutterstock (Image credit: Shutterstock)

From Amazon's Fallout art to Niantic's Pokemon poster, we've seen plenty of huge entertainment brands catch heat for apparent AI use over the last few months. Ethical issues have plagued the tech since it hit the mainstream last year, with concerns over AI's potential to take artists' jobs, and be trained on copyrighted imagery. Even Adobe has recently faced controversy, with claims of copyright infringement from illustrators.

UPDATE: According to Mashable, Disney has reached out to the publication to insist AI art was "not used in the creation of this poster".

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.