Benedict Cumberbatch Calls Black Widow Lawsuit Sad | Screen Rant
Doctor Strange actor Benedict Cumberbatch called Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow lawsuit sad in a new interview. The MCU’s highly anticipated return to theaters also served as Natasha Romanoff’s swan song. Released in July, Black Widow hit theaters and Disney+ at the same time, with the streaming service charging an extra $30 for subscribers. The hybrid release prompted Johansson to sue Disney for breach of contract, citing a loss of backend profits in the $50 million range. Disney responded by revealing Johansson’s upfront salary and accusing her of being unconcerned about the ongoing pandemic.
The studio’s response ignited a slew of responses from industry insiders, including those who saw it as a gendered attack on the actress. Johansson’s lawyers also called the response misogynistic and many have come out in support of the actress in the wake of the lawsuit. Johansson’s Marvel co-star Elizabeth Olsen voiced support for the Black Widow actress, but most other MCU alum have stayed mum. Now, though, Cumberbatch has offered his thoughts on the ongoing legal battle.
In an interview with THR Cumberbatch called the whole thing “a bit of a mess,” citing the lawyers without mentioning Johansson directly. The actor then goes on to discuss the changing landscape of the industry, saying that studios like Disney have an obligation to be fair when acting on behalf of the talent in their properties. As the industry continues to change, Cumberbatch acknowledges that everyone is operating in new territory. Check out his full statement below:
It’s sad what’s going on between the lawyers. Just the verbiage and the accusations of, ‘Put it in a global pandemic context.’ The whole thing’s just a bit of a mess. We’re trying to understand what the revenue streams should be for artists that contribute to the billion-dollar business that is Disney. And it has to be contractualized. How does an artist’s normal compensation with box office bonuses, how does it work? It’s a new paradigm, and it’s a very complex one. No one saw this coming, and no one should use hindsight to say, ‘Well, it should have been done.’ That was the first of these films that was going to get a cinematic release during the pandemic and got stalled and stalled and stalled. It’s very new territory.
Cumberbatch’s statement is about as diplomatic as it could be – the actor never directly voices support for Johansson which makes sense considering he is still full intwined in the Marvel machine. Coming out directly against Disney or Marvel could create tension as the actor begins to promote two major upcoming films for them. Cumberbatch will star in both Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, two of the most anticipated upcoming MCU features.
It also seems safe to say that the actor could serve as a figurehead of the MCU for years to come, making speaking out a more complicated endeavor. Still, Cumberbatch isn’t wrong in his statement. As the industry continues to change and release models continue to shift, a medium must be found between studios and artists that respects the talent involved. It’s clear from Johansson’s Black Widow lawsuit that she felt disrespected by Disney, as did many stars of Warner Bros. upcoming slate when they decided to release their films on HBO Max, and the actress is kickstarting a conversation that must be had.