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How Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow Suit With Disney Was Reportedly Influenced By Shang-Chi

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi on San Francisco bus in Legend of the Ten Rings action sequence.
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

At the end of last week, the least surprising news about one of the more publicly divisive  lawsuits in recent memory finally arrived. Despite the fact that Disney and Scarlett Johansson were going at each other in the press quite liberally, the lawsuit between the two has come to a close as the pair have reached an out of court settlement. And it sounds like Black Widow may have Shang-Chi to thank for that.

Since the settlement between the two is sealed and we’ll likely never know for certain what’s in it, we’ll probably also never know for sure just what the factors at play were that led the settlement to happen in the first place. However, indications are that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings played a big role, as it gave Scarlett Johansson evidence of just how much damage Disney+ may have done to Black Widow’s box office.

Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit focused on the fact that her Marvel Studios deal for the film gave her financial bonuses based on the movie’s box office take. Her suit argued that the decision to release Black Widow on Disney+ alongside the theatrical release was a breach of that contract which prevented the movie from hitting those goals. 

According to Puck, the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings only strengthened Johansson’s case in that regard. Shang-Chi outperformed Black Widow in both domestic and global box office, despite the fact that the movie starred a much lesser known actor and introduced a brand new character that did not have the fanbase of Johansson or Black Widow

One assumes that, had this case gone to trial, both sides would have made various arguments with those box office numbers, but the conclusion that the reason Shang-Chi did better at the box office is because that was the only place to see it, is an obvious one to make, and certainly the argument Johansson’s legal team would have been making if it came to that.

While it seems almost certain this lawsuit was going to end in an out of court settlement, the fact that it did so now and not later, certainly may have been due to the fact that Shang-Chi inadvertently nudged things in that direction. If so, it likely also meant that the settlement that was reached was more favorable to Scarlett Johansson. Although, again, we’ll likely never know that for sure. 

Statements released by both sides say they’re happy this is now in the past and everybody is now looking forward to working together in the future. We know of at least one project that Johansson and Disney are reportedly working on, a new movie based on Disney’s popular Tower of Terror attraction. Whether that movie ends up in theaters, on Disney+, or both, we can probably assume that the contracts will be carefully scrutinized first.  

Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.