We’ve all been there. You go to the bank and try to deposit an eight-figure check, and the bank teller looks at you incredulously, but then he or she recognizes you from your Marvel superhero movies so it’s no biggie. That’s the situation that Scarlett Johansson now finds herself in, skyrocketing into that rarefied $15 million air that only the biggest Hollywood stars reach. Johansson has thus far appeared in six Marvel Cinematic Universe movies as Russian former-spy Black Widow, finally hitting paydirt as her character receives a standalone film that is poised to release in Phase 4 of the MCU.
The reported $15 million she will earn for the Black Widow film puts her in similar company as male co-stars Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth, who reportedly each made $15 million for their roles in Avengers: Infinity War. Evans and Hemsworth also each earned $15 million for playing Captain America and Thor, respectively, in Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Ragnarok, as well as in the upcoming Avengers 4 extravaganza.
Marvel usually plays it safe when it comes to salaries for its characters’ first outings, as Robert Downey Jr. only pocketed $500,000 for 2008’s Iron Man. That sum ballooned to $50 million when Marvel’s cinematic brand proved to be a money-printer by the time 2012’s Avengers steamrolled into theaters, while Johansson nabbed a low-seven figure salary for the first Avengers film after debuting in 2010’s Iron Man 2. Chadwick Boseman supposedly scored $2 million for then-unproven Black Panther prior to its stunning box office performance (earning over $1.3 billion worldwide), while Brie Larson will land $5 million for another new film property, Captain Marvel, which hits theaters on March 8, 2019. In essence, the $15 million payday for Johansson shows that Marvel and Disney have faith in Black Widow’s ability to pull in massive numbers at the worldwide box office, even without the support of flashier superheroes.
Multiple knowledgeable sources confirm Johansson’s Black Widow salary to The Hollywood Reporter, though Marvel refuses to officially comment on the money that their stars are paid. In response to the article on THR, a Marvel spokesperson said, “Marvel Studios disputes the accuracy of these numbers, and as a matter of policy, we never publicly disclose salaries or deal terms.”
Black Widow, directed by Cate Shortland, will likely arrive in theaters in 2020, and given the fan-favorite nature of the former Russian secret agent and the appeal of seeing Marvel fully embrace standalone films for their female superheroes, all indications are that the film will be a massive success. Johansson’s $15 million salary will inevitably be money well-spent, and her status as Hollywood’s highest-paid female movie star (as of 2018) shows little danger of being usurped anytime soon.