A viral meme claiming that Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot earned a meager fraction of Man of Steel star Henry Cavill's salary is based on unreliable attribution and a misunderstanding of how Hollywood actors structure their contracts.
The accusation that Gadot was stiffed originally started Monday from a Daily Dot article headlined "Gal Gadot's 'Wonder Woman' paycheck was surprisingly small." The Daily Dot noted that Gadot has publicly said that she earned $300,000 for her role in Wonder Woman.
"This situation carries a whiff of Hollywood’s gender pay gap," the news website argued. "Why? Because according to Forbes, Henry Cavill earned a sweet $14 million for Man of Steel, including box office bonuses."
That factoid took on a life of its own when it was tweeted out by Teen Vogue's Lauren Duca.
Gal Gadot made $300,000 for Wonder Woman as compared to Henry Cavill's $14M for Man of Steel. The most compelling DC villain is the pay gap.
— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) June 20, 2017
Among the outlets that subsequently highlighted the supposed discrepancy were HuffPost, Fox News, Maxim, Yahoo News, and, yes, Duca's Teen Vogue.
Most of those publications cited Forbes, or the Daily Dot piece that in turned cited Forbes. But that March 2016 Forbes article never actually cited a source for the claim that Cavill made a whopping $14 million for Man of Steel.
So where did Forbes get the figure? A week before its article was published, an unreliable clickbait site called GoBankingRates.com wrote a roundup of the net worths of all the cast members of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
But GoBankingRates appeared to confuse Cavill's salary with his total net worth. It claimed both that his net worth was $14 million, and also that Man of Steel netted him "$14 million for his role as Clark Kent."
Unless Cavill earned his entire net worth on one movie (unlikely considering his 15 years in major films), the simplest explanation is that a clickbait site made an error that found its way into Forbes, which was then repeated by other mainstream outlets.
Cavill's actual salary remains unknown, although a source familiar with star salaries for studio franchise movies told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday that "Cavill did not make anywhere close to $14 million as his base pay for Man of Steel."
But is it still true that Gadot made a shockingly low amount for a movie set to earn hundreds of millions? Not really. While her base salary is only $300,000, actors in superhero films typically earn most of their salary in the form of box office bonuses.
Chris Evan also earned $300,000 in base salary for his role in Captain America: The First Avenger. Thor star Chris Hemsworth actually earned less than Gadot and Evans in base salary, taking in only $200,000.
A knowledgable source told BuzzFeed that Gadot was paid "at least" as much as Cavill for their respective films.
Without knowing what they earned in bonuses and percentages, it is impossible to compare their final take.