Because the Internet loves outrage, a story circulated that Gal Gadot only got paid $300,000 for Wonder Woman while Henry Cavill got a whopping $14 million to do Man of Steel. If you even pause to consider that info, it’s ridiculous. When he signed on to do Man of Steel, Cavill was not an A-list actor, and his biggest claim to fame was the Showtime series The Tudors. Does it really make sense to pay $14 million to a rising star when the movie he’s leading is being sold off the Superman brand rather than his fame?
That being said, Gadot did earn $300,000 for Wonder Woman, which at first blush seems low. It was always going to be one of Warner Bros.’ tentpole movies, so shouldn’t Gadot have received a paycheck commensurate with the profile of the film she was starring in?
But her relatively* low paycheck is actually par for the industry. The way the model works, especially with regards to superhero films where the brand is more important than the actor, is that the actor gets a salary around $300,000 for their early appearances, and then they can negotiate for more if the film is a success and they’re brought back for sequels. As Vulture points out, $300,000 is what Chris Evans made for Captain America: The First Avenger. Now he makes much more thanks to the success of his Marvel movies as well as using his stardom to tackle other projects. The $14-million tag for Cavill actually includes many bonuses for box office performance and might include multiple films, and as such, isn’t a base salary.
There are exceptions like Ben Affleck getting a hefty payday for Batman v Superman, but he already had a strong relationship with Warner Bros. and he was far from an unknown. Additionally, the studio was hoping to use his directorial power as a way to woo him into leading the DC Universe, something that hasn’t really panned out as Affleck has remained Batman, but handed control of the hero’s solo movie over to Matt Reeves. Compare that to Gadot, whose biggest credits thus far where a supporting role in a couple of the Fast and Furious movies.
So if you’re upset that Gadot didn’t get paid more for Wonder Woman, fear not. She now has a bona fide hit under her belt, and she’ll not only be able to negotiate for a higher payday for future movies—she’ll get to lead non-superhero movies too.
*I would happily accept a check for $300,000 minus 10% to my agent and manager if it meant I could star in a blockbuster superhero movie.