Before the release of Marvel’s Black Widow, there were still a lot of people questioning Scarlett Johansson’s future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, there was her fate in Endgame that could very well have meant it was the end for her character, but this was also Marvel. They bring characters back all the time. Nothing is off the table. Except, now, the actress is suing Disney, Marvel’s parent company. The company that she just recently announced a new deal with for the Tower of Terror movie. Following the lawsuit, Disney has been criticized for its fiery public response to the suit. Now, thanks to one of our trusted and proven inside sources, we’ve learned that Disney has closed their ties and future projects with Scarlett Johansson.
We assume this means that Disney intends to not currently move forward with the projects they’ve publicly announced, like Tower of Terror, but they could certainly reconfigure the project with a new lead. It also means that projects that were quietly in the works for Scarlett Johansson are now out of the question. We were unable to learn what those secret projects might have included. Someday, that will probably come out, but for now, it’s being kept even more tightly under wraps. There are so many lingering questions, though. Before this lawsuit, what was Marvel planning for Black Widow? Before the lawsuit, were we supposed to see her character again?
Prior to Black Widow’s release, Marvel boss Kevin Feige talked up the movie in interviews. He was enthusiastic about finally seeing the Scarlett Johansson solo movie release. While speaking on that, and the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he refused to commit to whether or not the actress had a future with the company. In fact, he told Entertainment Tonight, “She was a producer on this film. She was the one that brought us our amazing director, Cate Shortland, and I am excited to continue working with her in any way possible if we’re so lucky.” That certainly sounded like the door was wide open. That interview was published on July 1, 2021. It’s shocking how fast things have changed.
On Scarlett Johansson’s part, she is also probably fairly shocked. While she’s the one who filed the lawsuit, Disney’s responses have been heavily criticized. Before the film’s release, the actress tried to talk to Disney about her contract, which includes bonuses that are tied to the box office. Since Disney decided to release Black Widow in theaters and on Disney+ at the same time, during a worldwide pandemic, box office expectations had heavily changed. That affects her pay as well as everyone else with a similar contract in the cast and crew, but Scarlett Johansson is the face of the movie. As the star, if she got Disney to negotiate her contract, it would affect the others. She had the most power.
However, Disney ignored her. Black Widow was released, and while it did well for a hybrid release during the pandemic, it didn’t do as well at the box office as the actress would have expected pre-pandemic when she signed her contract. So, with the studio refusing to listen, she filed a lawsuit.
In response to Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit, Disney issued a statement. It looked down on the actress, a little like she was being a whiny child. They said they’d already paid her enough. They implied that she is insensitive to the global pandemic when they said, “The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” which felt like a low blow and a bad look for the Mouse House. People around the world are renegotiating their contracts, including their working conditions and salaries, every day. Those renegotiations are even more important because of how the pandemic has changed the working environment. It has changed the way movies are being filmed right now and their releases. Why wouldn’t Disney have believed they needed to renegotiate her contract?
Now, they’re cutting ties with the actress, which again makes them look a little childish. When you’re a business as big as Disney, lawsuits happen. When you refuse to talk to the people you’re working with, you can expect even more lawsuits to happen. That’s an opportunity to bring in lawyers and work out the finer details. It’s an opportunity to be professional and get things on track. If this lawsuit has been publicly filed, and Disney had come out addressing the concerns of Scarlett Johansson, a person they’ve worked with on major projects, they could have shown that they are a company that cares about the people they work with. Instead, they’re cutting ties and running.