Avengers: Endgame Director Joe Russo Breaks Silence On Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow Lawsuit

Black Widow smiling at the end of her movie
(Image credit: Disney)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a well-oiled machine over the last decade of filmmaking, but there are still some major roadblocks every so often. The most recent was Scarlett Johansson’s legal battle with Disney over the release of Black Widow, which has since been resolved. And now Avengers: Endgame co-director Joe Russo has broken his silence on ScarJo’s lawsuit.

The long-delayed Black Widow movie kickstarted Phase Four of the MCU in theaters, but the project was also made available on Disney+. This decision ultimately led to Scarlett Johansson suing for money lost, as the box office suffered seemingly as a result of pirating. Joe Russo worked with Johansson in each of his MCU movies, and spoke to the overall climate of the film industry. As he put it,

There’s a lot of tension, just like there is in a lot of industries, because there’s a lot of disruption. People’s nerves are fraying, and it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen or where anything is going.

Well, he’s got a point. It’s been an unprecedented time for all of us, and the entertainment industry certainly suffered like others. And with theaters only starting to get back to normal, streaming services offer a unique complication. Joe Russo seems to feel everyone’s head is spinning as a result.

Joe Russo’s comments to Variety help to show what it’s actually like working in the film world, and specifically within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s a filmmaker working on both streaming and theatrical projects, so his perspective is certainly valuable. And that’s especially true when it comes to the recently resolved Black Widow situation.

Scarlett Johansson was ultimately able to reach an agreement with Disney about Black Widow, and she’ll continue working with the studio on projects like The Tower of Terror. In the same interview Joe Russo also spoke about that resolution, saying:

I’m glad that the lawsuit’s resolved. I do think it was indicative of significant change that’s been happening. The resolution speaks volumes about the respect for artists moving forward in this changing landscape.

Scarlett Johansson has worked with Disney many times throughout the years, outside of her role as Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While she’s seemingly retired as Natasha Romanoff, it’ll be interesting to see what comes next. And that includes the previously mentioned Tower of Terror movie that she’s set to produce and star in.

Black Widow’s box office performance and the fallout from Scarlett Johansson seemed to influence Marvel Studios’ strategy with future projects. Shang-Chi had an exclusive theatrical window, and broke records as a result. Eternals is also expected to arrive exclusively in theaters, allowing moviegoers to take on the scope of Chloé Zhao's movie.

The MCU will return to theaters with Eternals on November 5th. In the meantime, check out the 2021 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.