While Marvel Studios got off to a flying start with its Phase 4 streaming slate in 2021, the theatrical side of things has not gone over nearly as smoothly as it had in the days of the MCU’s past.
Due to the worldwide pandemic, Disney was forced to utilize a new release strategy for Phase 4’s first movie Black Widow; this came with having the movie debut in theaters and via Premier Access on Disney+ at the same time in early July 2021. While the movie itself made its expected impact on the MCU’s overarching narrative, things took a turn for the worst due to these unforeseen circumstances.
In late July, Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney over the profits handling of the dual release, which led to a rollercoaster of emotions from all parties involved. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and numerous MCU stars privately and publicly backed Johansson, believing that she was deserving of a renegotiated deal that would financially benefit her.
It was even reported that Avengers: Endgame directing duo the Russo Brothers stalled talks with Marvel Studios about upcoming projects to show solidarity with Johansson.
Now, after two months of public drama, things have truly settled between the two parties.
Black Widow Lawsuit Finally Over
The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Walt Disney Studios and Scarlett Johansson came to a settlement over the breach of contract lawsuit Johansson filed regarding the release of Marvel Studios' Black Widow. Specific details of the deal were not publicly disclosed, although Deadline's Dominic Pattern reported that Disney will end up paying Johansson over $40 million via multiple payments.
A statement from Scarlett Johansson, shared by reporter Aaron Couch, celebrated the resolution and her experiences with Disney. Johansson shared her excitement for the opportunity to continue working with Disney "in years to come:"
"I am happy to have resolved our differences with Disney. I'm incredibly proud of the work we've done together over the years and have greatly enjoyed my creative relationship with the team. I look forward to continuing our collaboration in years to come."
Chairman of Disney Studios Content Alan Bergman issued his own statement via Variety in which he expressed his gratitude for the situation seeing a resolution. He praised Johansson's "contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe" while looking forward to continuing their work together on future projects as well:
“I’m very pleased that we have been able to come to a mutual agreement with Scarlett Johansson regarding ‘Black Widow. We appreciate her contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and look forward to working together on a number of upcoming projects, including Disney’s 'Tower of Terror.'”
Johansson and Disney In Sync Once Again
After a brutal two months filled with public jabs at one another seemingly every week, Scarlett Johansson and Disney appear to be on the same page once again following this unfortunate dispute. While the dollar amount is still a mystery, it appears that the two have resolved their issues over the Black Widow release and are ready to move forward from here.
Johansson's public statement is not only shocking but quite exciting as well, as she indicates that she is open to working with the MCU's parent company once again on future projects. Whether that means any sort of return as Natasha Romanoff after her death in Avengers: Endgame is a mystery, but the door is now open to that possibility with this agreement.
During the press rounds leading up to Black Widow's release, Kevin Feige expressed a desire to work with Johansson in any capacity should the opportunity arise. Now, with this ugly legal battle having come to an end, it appears that the top Marvel Studios executive may indeed get his wish.
Black Widow is available for purchase on DVD and digital. The movie will be available to all viewers on Disney+ on October 6.