Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow lawsuit may stop the Russo brothers directing another Marvel movie

Chris Evans as Captain America in Avengers: Endgame
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow may no longer be part of the MCU, but the actor's lawsuit against Disney may have ramifications for Marvel Studio's future.

According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the Russo brothers – who previously directed Johansson in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame – have been put off returning for another Marvel movie. The publication signals that the duo "hit an impasse" with the superhero studio due to the Johansson case.

Johansson's suing Disney for allegedly breaking her contract on the recent Black Widow movie, which was released simultaneously on Disney Plus via Premier Access and in cinemas. Her contract means that she's entitled to a percentage point of the box-office profits, which her agent claims would have been greater if the movie had not been released on streaming at the same time.

The Russo brothers are said to be worried about how any future Marvel movies could potentially be released and how their pay could be affected by streaming. Of course, Marvel's latest movie, Shang-Chi, has only been released in cinemas and the studio looks set to continue to release movies exclusively in theaters.

The same report details how Kevin Feige pushed for a cinema-only release for Black Widow, but hands were forced due to needing Marvel Phase 4 movies and shows to be released in a certain order.

If the Russo brothers do end up returning to the MCU, there's a decent chance they could direct Secret Wars. The duo have spoken before about wanting to adapt the famous comic-book storyline, which sees heroes and villains of all timelines transported to a planet called 'Battleworld' and forced to fight.

"I read [Secret Wars] when I was 10 or 11, and it was the scale of getting all of the heroes together," Joe Russo said in a 2020 interview with Bro Bible. "It was one of the first major books to do that – that was really event-storytelling to me at its finest. And what happens when you put all of those personalities together. I also like the idea of villains having to team up with heroes. Anthony and I like complicated relationships between heroes and villains, we like villains who believe they're heroes in their own stories, so it's all sort of built into this notion of Secret Wars. To execute something on the scale of Infinity War was directly related to the dream of Secret Wars, which is even larger in scale."

The Russo brothers will next direct The Gray Man, a Netflix movie with Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Alfre Woodard, and Regé-Jean Page. Meanwhile, next on Marvel's line-up is Eternals – click through that link for more on the movie.

Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.