Given that the Hollywood gender wage gap—i.e., the phenomenon that sees Jennifer Lawrence rank as Hollywood’s top-paid female star, and still make $30 million less a year than her male contemporaries—is demonstrably still a thing, people have been eyeing the paychecks headed to Warner Bros.’ latest female action star, Wonder Woman lead Gal Gadot, with heightened scrutiny. So when Elle reported this week that Gadot—whose film has been the first unequivocal critical win for the DC movie universe—got paid 46 times less than Henry Cavill got for the tepidly reviewed Man Of Steel, it was depressingly easy to believe.
Happily, this seems to be the rare time when studied cynicism about Hollywood’s gender politics appears to be at least partially unfounded; Vanity Fair dug deeper into the statistics, which claim that Gadot was only paid $300,000 for Wonder Woman, while Cavill got $14 million for Man Of Steel, and found that there was more to them than initially appeared. The discrepancy is mostly rooted in how the contracts for these big-budget superhero franchises work: a small payment for the first films, and then increasingly big paydays after the initial movie is a hit. (That way, you’re not paying, say, Josh Brolin $5 million for Jonah Hex.) The $300,000 Gadot’s been getting per movie is part of her initial contract, signed in 2014, and will almost certainly be revised now that she’s a guaranteed money maker. Assuming it’s a standard superhero movie contract, it also has plenty of bonuses built in for box office performance, meaning Gadot is likely to make way more than 300 grand off of Wonder Woman’s half-a-billion dollar success.
The Cavill number, meanwhile, already takes those bonuses into account, and, per a source quoted by Vanity Fair, almost definitely isn’t just for Man Of Steel. (“It certainly isn’t for one picture. That’s insane.”) Elle has posted an update on the original story, writing, “Reports that Henry Cavill earned $14 m for Man of Steel are unconfirmed. Although the pay gap persists in Hollywood, this example is not adequately supported by the information available.” So, hooray! The wage gap has been defeated (for this particular high-profile superhero franchise, in this very specific set of circumstances). Good job, everybody.