Avengers… Assemble? In the midst of Scarlett Johansson’s ongoing Black Widow lawsuit against Disney, her Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame costar Benedict Cumberbatch has weighed in on the matter, calling it “a bit of a mess.”
“It’s sad what’s going on between the lawyers,” Cumberbatch said in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
On July 29, Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney, alleging that the company “intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of agreement, without justification, in order to prevent [her] from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel.” According to Johansson’s suit, the actress lost over $50 million that should have been tied to the box office benchmarks Black Widow can’t reach due to its streaming release.
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” Disney responded at the time. “The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Cumberbatch described the challenge of properly compensating stars during pandemic releases “a new paradigm” and “a very complex one.”
“No one saw this coming, and no one should use hindsight to say, ‘Well, it should have been done,’” he continued. “That was the first of these [Marvel] films that was going to get a cinematic release during the pandemic and got stalled and stalled and stalled. It’s very new territory.”
Another one of Johansson’s Avengers costars, WandaVision star Elizabeth Olsen, came out more firmly in support of her last month.
“I think she’s so tough and literally when I read [about the lawsuit] I was like, ‘Good for you, Scarlet,’” Olsen said during a Vanity Fair interview at the time. “When it comes to actors and their earnings, I mean, that’s just, that’s just all contracts. So it’s either in the contract or it’s not.”