Scarlet Johansson, 'Black Widow' & Disney: Suit Reveals Hypocrisy

Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in Black Widow. (Marvel Studios)

Hollywood actors are known for their enthusiastic support of progressive policies. Many in the industry have given their full-throated support to the socialist agenda. However, their behavior suggests a strong tendency towards personal financial self-interest. Recently, Scarlett Johansson launched a lawsuit against Disney over her compensation in Black Widow. Johansson argues Disney breached her contract and she deserves restitution. The lawsuit is another example of how when push comes to shove, actors are like everyone else: capitalists.

Scarlett Johansson is an unlikely person to promote leftists causes. For one, she’s incredibly wealthy and is a very hard-working actress. In fact, at one point, she was the highest-paid actress in all of Hollywood. Furthermore, some of her roles generated controversy from radical leftists in Hollywood. Her decision to play a canonically Asian character caused a minor stir, and she was forced to walk back her decision to play a transgender individual after outrage.

However, this has not stopped her from promoting left-wing political candidates. Johansson, despite saying she is not a political person, openly endorsed Bernie Sanders in 2020. At the time, Sanders was running as an open socialist. Johansson’s endorsement of a leader bent on addressing income inequality and the ills of the “1 percent” is frustrating in light of her recent suit against Disney. 

The legal reasoning behind the suit is slightly complicated. Johansson is alleging that Disney breached her contract by allowing Black Widow to play on Disney+, instead of releasing it only in theaters. CNN reports on the suit:

“To maximize these receipts, and thereby protect her financial interests, Ms. Johansson extracted a promise from Marvel that the release of the picture would be a ‘theatrical release,’” the suit claimed. “As Ms. Johansson, Disney, Marvel, and most everyone else in Hollywood knows, a ‘theatrical release’ is a release that is exclusive to movie theatres. Disney was well aware of this promise, but nonetheless directed Marvel to violate its pledge and instead release the picture on the Disney+ streaming service the very same day it was released in movie theatres.”

The legal case is interesting in its own right. However, technicalities aside, it is evident that Johansson is suing Disney because she believes she didn’t make enough money on her film. The suit openly refers to Johansson’s “financial interests.” It should be clear that if Disney’s decision to stream Black Widow had generated more income for Johansson, she would not be suing for breach of contract

The fact that Johansson wants to make as much as she can is not the problem. Individuals should pursue their interests, financial or otherwise, within the bounds of ethics and laws. Furthermore, Disney is hardly “the little guy” here. No, the problem is the blatant double standard. Johansson has already made $20 million from Black Widow, yet she endorses a candidate who blames the American system for income inequality

Johansson is not alone. In fact, she’s hardly the worst offender. Actors such as Mark Ruffalo are happy to make millions of dollars in a free-market economy but then call for socialism in politics. Americans notice those things. 

Hollywood actors are known for living opulent lifestyles filled with red-carpet galas, non-stop media coverage, and lucrative film contracts. For most Americans, their wealth is not an affront. What is maddening is that the same people who live in luxury have the temerity to call for political and cultural changes they don’t personally abide by. I hope Johansson wins her lawsuit and gets the money she is contractually owed. I also hope it shows us that Hollywood actors are the exact same capitalists they complain about on Twitter.

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