Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Scarlett Johansson on million-dollar Disney lawsuit and whether she'd work for them ever again

The Marvel actress sued the industry giant in 2021 after the mid-pandemic release of Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson attends the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards on February 08, 2020 in Santa Monica, California
Beatriz Colon
Beatriz ColonOnline News WriterNew York
Share this:

When Scarlett Johansson decided to sue Disney – starring in their Marvel films for ten-plus years since Iron Man 2 – in July of 2021, it came as a shock to the industry and beyond.

It's not often that a woman in Hollywood has had success suing their employer. It's mostly been men like Burt Lancaster, Kevin Costner, and Sylvester Stallone who have prevailed in such lawsuits; half a century before Scarlett, Olivia de Havilland and Elizabeth Taylor were rare exceptions to the rule.

The suit came shortly after the July 2021 release of Marvel's Black Widow, of which the star is the titular character, and just days before she was due to give birth to Cosmo, her second child and first with husband Colin Jost.

WATCH: Black Widow trailer

MORE: Scarlett Johansson makes rare comment about ex-husband Ryan Reynolds 

Prior to the suit, she had been engaged in months of back and forth with the industry giant over millions of dollars she had been promised, before they opted to release the action film in both theaters and Disney+ as the pandemic raged on. 

Her contract had initially agreed to an exclusive theatrical release, and her initial salary included a percentage of box office grosses, which were impacted by the move to release the movie simultaneously on Disney+ as well.

MORE: Drew Barrymore provides rare insight into Scarlett Johansson's married life

Disney subsequently called out Scarlett in a statement for her "callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic," of which, in a new interview with Variety, she has now confessed: "I was sad and disappointed. But mostly sad."

Scarlett Johansson of Marvel Studios' 'Black Widow' at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019 Marvel Studios Panel in Hall H on July 20, 2019 in San Diego, California© Getty
Scarlett promoting Black Widow at San Diego Comic Con in 2019

She continued: "It was such a surreal moment because we were all isolated and just sort of emerging a little bit. I was also really heavily pregnant, too, which in a weird way was amazing timing," adding: "Suddenly, your entire attention is drawn to this miracle of life. So, I had the most wonderful distraction in the world and soon after had a beautiful baby."

MORE: Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost's property portfolio: from the Hamptons to LA

MORE: Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost's private sanctuary to raise new baby boy

Two months later, Disney and Scarlett settled the suit, the latter coming out with a not disclosed but reported $40 million payout. 

Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh attends the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California© Getty
The actress and Black Widow co-star Florence Pugh at the 2020 Oscars

"I couldn't even walk through a restaurant without somebody saying, 'Good for you. Stand up for yourself,'" she now says, adding: "I could see that it had a bigger impact. I got support from strangers that have no skin in the game at all."

Her move to sue, while daunting, risky, and some might say unprecedented in the modern age of streaming giants, was well worth it, and not only did she get support from Hollywood colleagues and strangers alike, her relationship with the studio has surprisingly not been impacted because of it.

Paul Rudd (Antman), left, Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Robert Downey, Jr (Ironman), Disney CEO Bob Iger, Brie Larson (Captain Marvel), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) acknowledge the crowd after announcing charitable contributions © Getty
Marvel mainstays Paul Rudd, Robert Downey Jr., Brie Larson, Chris Hemsworth, and Jeremy Renner, plus Scarlett, next to Disney CEO Bob Iger in 2019

While not attached as a cast member, she is in business with Disney as a producer of the upcoming thriller Tower of Terror, based on the popular theme park ride (Disney made a previous television movie based on the ride in 1997 starring Kirsten Dunst).

Though a cast has yet to be made public, Taika Waititi is already attached as director; he has previously directed Marvel's Thor: Love and Thunder and voiced Korg on both Thor and Avengers: Endgame. For now, its plot simply reads: "Five people in a posh hotel take an elevator and disappear after it is hit by lightning."

Scroll below for more Scarlett and Marvel related photos.

David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle, Rachel Weisz and Scarlett Johansson of Marvel Studios' 'Black Widow' at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019 Marvel Studios Panel in Hall H on July 20, 2019 in San Diego, California© Getty
The star alongside Black Widow co-stars David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle, and Rachel Weisz at at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2019
Florence Pugh and Scarlett Johansson attend the afterparty for the 'Marriage Story' Los Angeles Premiere at the Sunset Tower Hotel on November 05, 2019 in Los Angeles, California© Getty
Florence and Scarlett starred as estranged sisters on Black Widow
Scarlett Johansson and  Colin Jost attend the 44th Kennedy Center Honors at The Kennedy Center on December 05, 2021 in Washington, DC© Getty
Scarlett is married to SNL writer Colin Jost and they have one son together

Read more HELLO! US stories here. Want to keep up to date with the latest stories? Sign up to our HELLO! Newsletters today.

More Celebrity News

See more