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