But that doesn't mean the debate about the gender wage gap is over
A viral tweet (now deleted) started an online conversation Tuesday about Gal Gadot’s salary for Wonder Woman, which was erroneously reported to be nearly 46 times less than what Henry Cavill made for his first solo Superman outing in Man of Steel.
Warner Bros. and representatives for Cavill and Gadot did not respond to EW’s call for comment, but a source familiar with the contracts disputes widespread claims that Cavill’s salary (cited as being near $14 million) was significantly higher than Gadot’s (pegged at $300,000). “All first-time actors and actresses are paid an appropriate fee at the beginning,” the source tells EW, “which is then sweetened with backend participation and renegotiation as the franchise progresses.” Gadot is currently working on Justice League, the final film in her initial three-picture deal, but it’s an easy bet that Warner Bros. will soon begin lining up its talent for the hotly-anticipated Wonder Woman sequel. When Gadot signed a three-picture deal with Warner Bros back in 2014, it was for a much smaller amount than she will make going forward. A Variety report from that year pegs her salary at $300,000 a movie, although that suddenly omnipresent number is sourced separately, from an Israeli entertainment show called Good Evening With Gai Pines.
$300,000 is a small salary, in the context of Hollywood history. But Hollywood history changed in the past decade when the major studios moved gradually — and then almost exclusively — into cinematic-universe franchising. Many superhero stars have been paid in lower six figures for the franchise-launching film (including, reportedly, Chris Evans for Captain Ameica). Going all the way back to X-Men and Spider-Man, superhero movies have usually starred lesser-known up-and-comers, because young, struggling actors are cheap.
Take Cavill: Previous to signing for Man of Steel, his biggest role was in the cable series The Tudors, a modestly-rated Showtime series. Cavill had decidedly not appeared in Fast Five, one of the greatest action movies of this century. Gadot was in Fast Five, and like everyone else in Fast Five, she deserves an island continent made of moon diamonds.
Leaving aside questions of films’ relative merit (opinions are subjective) and ultimate financial success, however, we can all agree it’s wrong for a man to be paid more than a woman for the same job. But star salaries are fuzzy things: As reported by Kyle Buchanan of Vulture, Amy Adams actually made more than Cavill for her role in Man of Steel. “Is Lois Lane a bigger part of Superman’s film than Superman?” is the wrong question to ask, since obviously, Adams should be headlining a Lois Lane movie. But Adams was already established by then as a movie star, a frequent Oscar nominee, and an international treasure.
This is not to toss aside the very real and necessary outrage over the gender gap in Hollywood income. The first Superman film came out in the ’70s, and the first Batman film came out in the ’80s, and Wonder Woman only got her first theatrically-released feature film this year, after appearing in a film about Batman and Superman, two years after even Ant-Man. But it’s important to be outraged about the right things. And to celebrate the money Gal Gadot will soon receive for Wonder Woman 2, a paycheck that will take her one step closer to her long-deserved island continent made of moon diamonds.