Marvel Studios has seen more than its fair share of success in 2021 after going eighteen months without any new releases, largely due to the worldwide pandemic.
The franchise's run on Disney+ has pushed the studio to the top of the streaming charts at every turn, and the theatrical movies are back as well with the release of Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow.
Finally giving Natasha Romanoff her own solo movie, the MCU's twenty-fourth theatrical outing not only filled in some of the gaps following 2016's Captain America: Civil War, but it also set the stage for some dramatic reveals after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Even after Natasha's death, this movie found a way to move her legacy forward through other heroes and villains with stories continuing in Phase 4.
Even with all this success, Disney and Marvel have had quite the rough time with the movie releasing simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+, even leading to a lawsuit from Johansson against Disney. As it turns out, she's far from the only one who's not pleased with how the MCU's latest blockbuster movie came to the public.
KEVIN FEIGE NOT PLEASED
ComicBook reported on a newsletter from Matthew Belloni — former editor of The Hollywood Reporter — who broke down the lawsuit filed by Scarlett Johansson over the release of Black Widow. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was specifically noted as being unhappy about the film's hybrid theatrical/streaming release strategy.
Even while Feige is known as a "company man," he was said to be "angry and embarrassed" after pushing "against the day-and-date plan" for Black Widow's release. Preferring an exclusively theatrical debut and "not wanting to upset his talent," Feige was adamant about wanting Disney to "make this right" with the MCU star:
"[Feige is] a company man, and not prone to corporate showdowns or shouting matches. But I’m told he’s angry and embarrassed. He lobbied Disney against the day-and-date plan for Black Widow, preferring the big screen exclusivity and not wanting to upset his talent. And then when the sh-t hit the fan, the movie started tanking, and Johansson’s team threatened litigation, he wanted Disney to make this right with her."
FEIGE PUSHES BACK
Kevin Feige has been adamant through the entire Phase 4 release process about wanting the MCU's theatrical movies to remain exclusively in theaters at the start. This passion was shown not only for the stars of Black Widow and other Phase 4 outings, who had expected and wanted the big-screen experience, but also for the fans that make this franchise's success possible.
Even considering that extenuating circumstances forced Marvel Studios into this position, it's clearly had an effect through multiple levels of the film's release. Black Widow quickly became the most pirated movie of the year, thanks to its immediate debut on Disney+. This is a large factor as to why the box office numbers have suffered tremendously.
Feige has put his love for the Marvel Universe on full display for more than a decade, and he's always been one to give the studio's stars every opportunity to succeed with Marvel's stories. Considering all the trouble Black Widow has experienced since it debuted, his anger seems to be directed towards making sure stars like Scarlett Johansson are treated the way they deserve.
While Marvel is going back to an exclusively theatrical release with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in September, this saga will be one to pay close attention to before Black Widow's run in theaters comes to an end.
Black Widow is now playing in theaters and available to stream through Premier Access on Disney+.