“Black Widow” star Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney sets a precedent for local actors

Marissa Finney

character Black Widow, otherwise known as Natasha Romanoff, has been a staple character of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) since some of its earliest movies. Now that the MCU has developed and grown far beyond its starting point, it has finally given a voice to a founding member of the Avengers.
The film “Black Widow” landed in theaters and on Disney+ (with Premier Access) on July 9, 2021. Disney decided to release the movie on both avenues, a decision Johansson strongly disagreed with. She claimed recently this breached her contract with Disney. Though I agree with the company’s caution surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, its response to Johansson’s raised concerns are shocking. Allegedly, Disney refused to renegotiate the terms of her contract after deciding to avoid a purely theatrical release of “Black Widow.” If Johansson’s contract was breached, it is in her rights to sue.

But beyond that, her response to the malpractice regarding her contract sets a precedent for those who can not afford to risk losing an agreement with a huge company like Disney. If Disney is willing to breach the contract of one of the most successful actresses ever, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is doing worse to smaller actors. Many other actors in the movie “Black Widow” have also claimed to lose money on it.
Unlike these smaller actors, Johansson actually has a chance of winning this lawsuit. I truly believe winning it will lead to change. Even if she doesn’t win the lawsuit, she has already exposed Disney’s treatment of actors and inspired others to act. For example, Emma Stone is reportedly considering suing Disney because of her contract for the movie “Cruella.”
Johansson’s fame and money has made this story live in the headlines, hopefully indicating a better alternative for smaller actors. Overall, she is working towards a more fair future in the film industry and Disney has responded poorly and unprofessionally.
At CHS, there is a large performing arts department filled with talented students. If any of them decide to go into the film industry, they should feel empowered to push for fair contracts. The legality of acting is hardly discussed, so I can appreciate bringing this huge issue into the limelight.

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