From the moment Scarlett Johansson was first announced as Iron Man 2‘s Natasha Romanoff to the release of Black Widow in theaters and Disney Plus Premier Access, over twelve years had elapsed, and in that time she’d become one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s longest-tenured and most popular stars.
Unfortunately, that relationship looks to have been damaged irrevocably after she filed a lawsuit against Disney for breach of contract in relation to lost earnings that could have reached $50 million had series of performance-related milestones been hit. However, it should be noted that her issues appear to solely be with the Mouse House and not Marvel, with Kevin Feige said to be furious over the whole situation.
A new report offers up some new details, explaining that Johansson didn’t think she’d actually have to go through with legal action due to her status and standing not just under the Disney umbrella, but in the industry as a whole.
“First, [Bryan] Lourd [Scarlett Johansson’s agent]is particularly close to and protective of Johansson. He’s represented her since 2008, guided her through the Marvel movies, the box office bona fides with 2014’s Lucy, and last year’s double Oscar nominations for Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit. Johansson never thought this lawsuit would end up having to be filed, and no one on the team was particularly anxious to pull the trigger, knowing it would generate international headlines, might hurt her ability to work, and would turn her into the public face of the debate, possibly for years to come.
There’s a reason that stars in their prime almost never sue, and some are already comparing her to Olivia de Haviland, whose lawsuit brought down the studio system. That’s a bit hyperbolic, but it’s a big deal. And Lourd, having made what I’m told were more than a dozen private attempts to resolve this matter over several months, was a strong advocate for standing up for her rights.”
Disney responded in rapid fashion, but the statement has been greeted with backlash after it made a point of noting that Johansson had already made $20 million from Black Widow, in effect calling her greedy. There’s already been talk that recent Premier Access headliners Emma Stone and Emily Blunt could be tempted to take similar steps, but as of yet nothing concrete has happened in regards to Cruella or Jungle Cruise respectively.
The Olivia de Havilland lawsuit came in 1943, when the Gone with the Wind legend took Warner Bros. to court after her seven-year contract had expired, but the studio wouldn’t let her go. Claiming labor laws had been violated, the Golden Age star emerged victorious and ended up causing a paradigm shift in Hollywood where the talent had more power than ever before, so it’ll be very interesting to see what comes of the Johansson case in the long run.