So it doesn’t seem like Black Widow 2 is going to happen anytime soon...

Or at least it’s not going to star Scarlett Johansson. She’s suing Disney, claiming they breached her contract by releasing Black Widow on Disney+ at the same time it was opening in theaters, allegedly costing her tens of millions of dollars that she would have been owed if the film had performed better on the big screen. (So far Black Widow has grossed about $320 million worldwide, on the very low end of what Marvel movies typically earn.) Disney’s response did not suggest they’re eager to settle; they said Johansson showed “callous disregard for the prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic” and claimed they “fully complied” with her contract.

But that’s Disney — what’s Marvel’s position on all of this? According to former Hollywood Reporter editor Matt Belloni’s newsletter, the rift between Johansson and Disney has made Marvel President Kevin Feige “angry and embarrassed.” Belloni adds:

Make no mistake, Feige is pissed. He’s a company man, and not prone to corporate showdowns or shouting matches. But ... he lobbied Disney against the day-and-date plan for Black Widow, preferring the big screen exclusivity and not wanting to upset his talent. And then when the s— hit the fan, the movie started tanking, and Johansson’s team threatened litigation, he wanted Disney to make this right with her.

Belloni says he “won’t suggest Feige would leave Marvel over this,” but he also makes it clear that Feige is far more important to Marvel and Disney’s future than Johansson, whose contract with Marvel was concluded with Black Widow. In other words, they might fight Scarlett Johansson in court, but they need to keep Feige happy. Disney can always hire new actors or focus on other Marvel characters. Producers with Kevin Feige’s track record are a lot harder to come by.

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