In the past year, the concept of Artificial Intelligence and its many applications have garnered huge discussions both for and against its use in certain areas, particularly in the arts. More current news has brought the topic to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Secret Invasion and its use of AI in the show's main titles. But with Marvel and AI now closer than ever, connections to its long history with robotics and intelligence can't be overlooked.
Over the years, the Marvel Universe has encountered many villains with origins in tragedy, magic and, of course, robotics. But its villains based on AI proved to be the deadliest of all. No matter the arena, whether earthbound or cosmic, enemies born from AI were always incredible threats to Marvel's heroes. Now with ties being made between real-world AI and what was established in the comics, it's impossible to ignore how impactful these enemies were on the fabric of the Marvel Universe.
Marvel Comics Has Had A History With AI Villains
Artificial Intelligence wasn't the first type of enemy heroes of the Marvel Universe faced. In fact, The Avengers' first foe was Loki, while The Fantastic Four encountered the Mole Man and his subterranean army. However, when the time came for an AI-based enemy, the bar was set high with Ultron. The robotic villain was a creation of Hank Pym's that was meant to be a tool, aiding in Hank's research. Over time, Ultron grew more intelligent and eventually began to question humanity, seeing himself as a superior being and the answer to the world's problems, by being its destructor. Ultron later used its intelligence to create The Vision, who was an enemy of The Avengers at first, before he became one of their own.
When Bolivar Trask created the Sentinel Program, he also introduced the Master Mold, a self-sufficient mind that created the massive Sentinel army to torment Mutants. However, even after Trask, Master Mold continued to grow in power and, through his many creations, eventually led to a more advanced sentinel model, Nimrod. Now more than ever, Nimrod has proven to be the deadliest AI of the Sentinel Program due to its unstoppable nature and efficiency in eliminating Mutant threats no matter the power level. But none of it could've been done without an AI like Master Mold to lay the groundwork.
Off of Earth, the Kree developed their AI-based creation known as the Supreme Intelligence. Born of the minds of the most intelligent Kree at the time, the Supreme Intelligence eventually developed a mind of its own and was the governing body of the Kree Empire. The Intelligence was even worshiped as a religious deity due to its judgment being heeded for over a million years. While more complex than Ultron, it still had some villainous tendencies, such as when it ignited a second Kree/Skrull War at the slightest instant that their foes had grown weaker. While not as evil as Ultron, however, it was still better to treat the Supreme Intelligence as a threat rather than an ally.
Marvel's Tech Based Enemies Mirror Modern Fears Around AI
As AI has grown more adept at recreation, with programs such as ChatGPT being a major example, it's raised serious questions regarding job validity among people, especially creatives. Even in the world of comics, there have been instances of AI-generated comic books as well as art that have made the rounds. In the end, while the technology is nowhere near Ultron levels of intelligence, it offered grounded and valid concerns regarding its place among people who have made a living in the creative field. While it may not be the same level of fear as whether the Sentinels will turn their sights on humans isn't a concern, Marvel Comics has still mirrored many glaring concerns among people today.
Ultron, the Supreme Intelligence, and many others that serve as villainous AI in the Marvel Universe may be truly terrifying but also serve as a lesson in power. These characters may be threats but compared to modern concerns about AI, completely unrealistic. Nevertheless, there's no denying that Marvel Comics, in their own way, predicted these concerns decades ago, even if the AI in question was far more evil. But even though there's no Ultron in the immediate future, it's still a chance to take heed and understand that AI is a foreign concept where the heights it may reach are still unknown. Nevertheless, stories like the ones in Marvel Comics serve as the many ways that humanity has shown the risks of AI and even if they don't reach Ultron levels, they should still be understood.