Earlier this week, stories around the world [circulated] about [Gal Gadot]'s paycheck for Wonder Woman. According to several reports, Gadot received around $300,000 USD for the role, a fact that caused outrage not only because the big-budget film has already made more than half a billion dollars at the box office, but because the sum was laughable compared to the reported earnings of her fellow DC superheros Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill. According to reports, Affleck will earn around $26 million for his upcoming role in The Batman, while others suggested Henry Cavill earned around $18 million for his debut role in Superman: Man of Steel.
A couple of things have happened since then. The first is that initial reports of Cavill's exorbitant salary haven't been able to be verified. Vulture has directly disputed the claims, reporting instead that Cavill was actually paid a six-figure sum (no specifics, unfortunately) for the role compared to Amy Adams' (who played Lois Lane) seven-figure sum, as she was a bigger star when the film was released in 2013. Vanity Fair interviewed a Hollywood source that claimed that it would have been "insane" for Cavill to be paid that much as a relatively unknown actor in his first superhero film.
This was followed by a highly-circulated article by a website called The Richest titled '15 Marvel Actors Who Got Paid Way Less Than You Thought'. In the article it lists the supposed earnings of actors in their first superhero films, including Chris Pratt, Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth. Considering The Richest's "suggested articles" on this story included '16 Reasons Why Girls Hate Scarlett Johansson (But Guys Love Her)' and '18 Smokin' Famous Sisters Who Are Hotter Than Pippa Middleton', it didn't strike me as the world's most reputable source, so I fact-checked the information published against more reliable publications including Vox, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline. These publications report that Chris Evans earned around $300,000 USD to star in Captain America: The First Avenger and Chris Hemsworth made $150,000 for the first Thor film. These actors, as Gadot likely will, also earned more money after the film was released thanks to 'box office bonuses'—a contract stipulation which promises a percentage of the film's final earnings.
The point garnered from all of this is that Gadot's paycheck was, it seems, actually fairly normal for a relatively unknown actor in the first installment of a superhero franchise. Evans, Hemsworth and Chris Pratt—who according to The Richlist made $350,000 USD in Guardians Of The Galaxy—all went on to secure multi-million dollar payments in their film's sequels. Robert Downey Jr., for example, earned $500,000 USD in the first Iron Man film, and went on to negotiate a $50 million payment for his role in 2012's Avengers. And by all accounts, Wonder Woman's runaway box office success means a sequel is almost guaranteed.
It is important, however, when clearing up the misinformation that has been shared online on this specific story, that we don't lose sight of the bigger issue. None of this means the Hollywood pay gap doesn't exist. In fact, in and out of Hollywood it's is as prevalent as ever, and the success of Wonder Woman should serve as proof to Hollywood executives that female-led films, in any genre, make money. Not to depress you, but here are some stats to keep in mind/to use against assholes that think this story means something more profound than it does:
• According to a 2014 study, female movie stars' salaries increase until they reach 34, then rapidly decline—as do lucrative roles. Men's salaries only slow down when they reach 51, but don't ever decrease.
• Natalie Portman was paid three times less than Ashton Kutcher in the 2011 film No Strings Attached, despite having equal screen time and having won a fucking Oscar the year it was released. Portman was later quoted as saying "women make 30 cents to the dollar" in Hollywood.
• Jennifer Lawrence was paid less (seven per cent of the film's earnings) than Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper (who each earned nine percent of the film's earnings) in American Hustle, despite her being a main cast member and one of the biggest stars in the world at the time. She only discovered this after Sony e-mails were hacked.
• According to TIME, eight actors routinely claim $15 million per film, while only four actresses do.
• Only 22% of the top 100 earning films of 2015 had female protagonists.
• Meryl fucking Streep still gets paid less than her male co-stars despite having won three Oscars.
• Amanda Seyfried says she earned one 10th of what her male co-star earned on a film where they "were pretty even in status".
• Diane Keaton did not receive a box office bonus for Something's Gotta Give while Jack Nicholson did.
• Women make up 1.9% of directors, 11.2% of writers and 18.9% of producers in Hollywood.
• Rooney Mara has been in films where her male costars "got paid double what [she] got paid".
• Sienna Miller was offered less than half the salary of a male co-star in a play starring only two people.
• Jessica Chastain had to turn down a "huge" role because she refused to be paid less than a male co-star.
It's worth keeping in mind that actresses rarely speak out about the pay gap because either A) the salaries of their male counterparts aren't transparent (it took the Sony leak for Jennifer Lawrence to realise she'd been paid less than her male co-stars) or B) they are worried that speaking out could affect their already-lessened career prospects. It is also worth noting that women of colour have it even worse, are represented in film far less and, if statistics in other areas of the workplace are to go by, are paid even less than their white female counterparts.
It can, of course, be difficult to sympathise with women who are securing multi-million dollar pay checks, something Jennifer Lawrence tactfully touched on in her viral Lenny essay. But again, to focus on this is to miss the point. The Hollywood gender pay gap is a natural extension of the regular run-of-the-mill gender pay gap, a complex issue for which, despite all our discussions and think pieces and awareness, little progress has been made. A 2017 report revealed that there is still a 16 % pay gap between men and women working full time in Australia, which works out on average as a $261.30 difference per week.
In short, Gal Gadot getting her fair share for Wonder Woman is great, but we still have a long way to go.