Benedict Cumberbatch has commented on his Avengers co-star Scarlett Johansson's legal battle with Disney over the release of Black Widow, saying "the whole thing's just a bit of a mess".

Johansson launched legal action against Disney in July, alleging breach of contract for streaming the film Black Widow on the Disney+ channel at the same time as the cinema release. She claims it reduced her compensation, which was based partly on box office receipts, from what was supposed to be an exclusive run in cinemas.

Disney responded by saying there was "no merit" to Johansson's claim, saying it had complied with her contract. It also called out Johansson's suit as being "especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic," stating that she had already made $20 million.

Doctor Strange star Cumberbatch has now weighed in, telling The Hollywood Reporter: "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."

In August, fellow Marvel star Elizabeth Olsen voiced her support for Johansson amid the legal battle with Disney.

"I think she's so tough and literally when I read that I was like, 'good for you Scarlett'," Olsen said in an interview with Vanity Fair.

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