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The Highest Paid Actors In The DCEU

The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) started off with a bang in 2013 when Henry Cavill donned Superman's signature cape in "Man of Steel." From there, the franchise has welcomed many familiar heroes to the big screen, including Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Harley Quinn. While the DCEU has faced a rocky road — no one is likely to forget the abysmal reviews for "Suicide Squad" any time soon — it's still been a rousing success. The massive fictional franchise has already raked in more than $6 billion worldwide, with many more paydays to come.

What's the secret to this success? Talent. The biggest DCEU projects have all been led by spectacular performances from some of today's brightest stars. "Wonder Woman," for example, would be nothing without Gal Gadot's irresistible charisma. Zachary Levi and Asher Angel's winning turns transformed Shazam from a C-list hero into a household name. Margot Robbie is so dazzling as the madcap Harley Quinn, she's managed to outshine the Joker. Naturally, these famous faces are paid big bucks for their work — especially after they get one or two solid successes under their belts. What sort of dough are we talking about here, exactly? We've got all the answers. These are the highest paid actors in the DCEU.

Asher Angel

Like "Man of Steel" and "Wonder Woman" before it, 2019's "Shazam!" starts out by depicting Billy Batson's pre-superhero life. Asher Angel plays the teenage foster kid, whose trouble with the law can't hide his heroic heart. This sterling nature leads the wizard Shazam to deem him a worthy champion. Thanks to his brand-new superpowers, Billy becomes able to transform from a wiry teenager into a powerful adult (Zachary Levi).

Because he was a minor at the time of filming, Angel's contract was filed in court and reported by TMZ. The outlet reported his salary for the feature was $85,000. However, if the movie made more than $400 million, he was set to rake in a significant bonus of $25,000. As the film made $365 million worldwide, he missed out on that additional $25,000. Hope springs eternal, though: Angel's contract stipulates he'll get a nice bonus if any further "Shazam!" movies top the $400 million mark.

The popularity of the franchise is already clear. The first film garnered glowing reviews, with much praise going to Angel in particular. His salary increase for the 2023 sequel, "Shazam! Fury of the Gods," represents that: Angel will take home $200,000 for the flick, with the potential for a $35,000 bonus. As TMZ noted, Angel has the potential to take home millions more if additional "Shazam!" sequels become a reality. If the franchise makes it to a fifth installment, for example, he's set to earn $1.6 million, with the potential for a $150,000 bonus.

Amber Heard

Amber Heard plays fierce Princess Mera of Xebel in 2018's "Aquaman." According to Newsweek, she took home $2 million for her efforts. Heard was set to reprise the character in the film's 2023 sequel, "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom," but has since been given a reduced role in the film. This is due to the storm of controversy created by her ex-husband Johnny Depp's highly publicized defamation trial against her in 2022. "They released me from my contract," Heard remarked on the stand (per Newsweek). "And I fought to stay in it, and they kept me in it. I just don't know how much I'm in, actually, of the final cut." The script she was eventually given contained what she described as a dramatically reduced role for Mera.

According to entertainment expert Kathryn Arnold, this meant Heard's salary stayed the same for "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom." The actor should have been looking at a $4 million raise for her sophomore trip to Atlantis — Jason Momoa, for example, was able to bump his salary up from $3 million to $15 million.

Amy Adams

Amy Adams was already an incredibly successful actor when she joined the cast of "Man of Steel" as Lois Lane. It's not surprising, then, that she was paid well for her time. According to Vulture, Adams earned a seven-figure salary playing the intrepid reporter — significantly more than her co-star Henry Cavill's six-figure sum.

Adams has reprised the role twice more, once in 2016's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and again in 2017's "Justice League." 2017 was a big year for Adams, according to Forbes, who named her one of the world's highest-paid actresses that year for reportedly taking home a whopping $11.5 million. Neither Adams nor Warner Bros. have released further details of her salary for her second and third DC films, but given her earnings outline by Forbes, it's easy to deduce what she might have made from "Justice League."

Adams starred in no other features in 2017, but the article notes that her late 2016 sci-fi drama "Arrival" factors into those figures. Since her neo-noir psychological thriller "Nocturnal Animals" was released after that, her earnings from it were probably also taken into account. Both of those features had much smaller budgets than "Justice League," so it's likely that she pulled in six figures for them, or perhaps something in the low millions. This means she likely took home between $1 million and $10 million for the superhero ensemble movie.

Jared Leto

"Suicide Squad" is the third installment of the DCEU. The 2016 film welcomes a large ensemble cast to the screen, with the likes of Will Smith and Margot Robbie taking center stage as the titular antiheroes. Jared Leto also has an important part to play in the movie as the infamous Joker. His devotion to immersing himself in the eccentric character was highly publicized: As Viola Davis recalled to Vanity Fair, he went so far as to send his castmates a dead pig.

News 24 reported that Leto was paid $7 million for all his hard work. However, according to the actor, most of his scenes ended up getting cut from the film. All he had to show for his impressive salary was less than eight minutes of screen time. This works out to just under $1,000,000 per minute. No one could complain about such a sum, but Leto's shock at his absence from the film is still understandable.

While Robbie has reprised her role as Harley Quinn in "Birds of Prey" and "The Suicide Squad," Leto's character is nowhere to be found in either flick. As director James Gunn told The New York Times, that's because having the Joker in the Suicide Squad just doesn't make sense. But as Leto told Variety, he remains open to returning to the role. If that happens, the actor and musician will undoubtedly add more millions to his bank account.

Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie has never confirmed what she made, starring alongside Jared Leto and Will Smith in "Suicide Squad." If their salaries are anything to go by, it was most likely a seven-figure number. But that sum certainly increased for the film's 2020 spinoff, "Birds of Prey," which sees Robbie lead the charge without Leto or Smith at her side.

Robbie was paid an impressive $10 million to portray the offbeat queen of Gotham City in "Birds of Prey," Forbes confirmed. To reach this eight-figure salary, Robbie took on an executive producer role. This also allowed the actor to have more creative control over the film and ultimately give it a more female-focused direction. "It was crazy to me that I hadn't really gotten to be part of a female ensemble on-screen. I felt that you would get to see the best sides of Harley's personality in a group of girls," she explained to Screen Rant

Robbie's earnings from "The Suicide Squad" are unknown, but educated guesses can be made. According to Variety, Robbie took home $12.5 million for 2023's "Barbie." Her previous earnings will certainly have played a role in what she was able to negotiate for that Greta Gerwig-helmed flick. Given that data point, plus the $10 million we know she took home from "Birds of Prey," we can estimate Robbie earned roughly $10 million for "The Suicide Squad."

Gal Gadot

Gal Gadot's biggest role before playing Wonder Woman was Gisele from the "Fast & Furious" movie franchise. Suffice it to say, she was far from a household name when she joined the DCEU — but that more or less changed overnight. After she took on the role of Amazonian warrior princess Diana of Themyscira, Gadot's star rose like a rocket. She was widely praised for her performance, as was her character's first solo movie, 2017's "Wonder Woman."

Despite all this success — which includes the fact that "Wonder Woman" grossed $822 million at the global box office – Gadot took home very little of the profits. In fact, per The Hollywood Reporter, Gadot's starting salary for the superhero feature was $300,000. However, her deal is industry standard for a relative newcomer, and included back-end bonuses based on the movie's success and likely opportunities to renegotiate as the franchise grew. According to Vanity Fair, the Israeli actor took home a far more substantial $10 million for the 2020 sequel, "Wonder Woman: 1984." Gadot also followed in Margot Robbie's footsteps and took on a producer role for the sequel, which likely gave her more creative control and a salary increase.

Henry Cavill

The rumor mill was working overtime in 2017 when an article from Elle alleged that Henry Cavill had earned a whopping $14 million for his DCEU debut, compared to Gal Gadot's measly $300,000. However, The Hollywood Reporter later confirmed that both actors actually raked in about the same amount of dough for their solo debuts. Prior to becoming Superman, Cavill's credits were limited to smaller projects like "Stardust" and "Immortals." This wasn't enough to earn him a major salary for his first outing as Superman.

However, the British actor's profile quickly rose after his performance in "Man of Steel" hit the silver screen. Ever since, he's been able to leverage higher pay each time he's put on Superman's cape. The exact details of his salary for "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Justice League" haven't been shared, but we can make some solid guesses. Based on the fact that both he and Gadot signed similar deals and the "Wonder Woman" actor took home $10 million for her second DCEU feature, it's likely Cavill experienced a similar increase in earnings. "Batman v Superman" grossed $873 million globally, which is on par with "Wonder Woman." So, if his renegotiation was similar to Gadot's, this would put him in the high seven or low eight-figure bracket for the sequel — and probably something similar for "Justice League."

Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck debuted as billionaire Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, in 2016's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." Affleck was already known all over the world for his performances in such hits as "Armageddon," "Good Will Hunting," and "Gone Girl," as well as his work as a director: He's helmed massively acclaimed films like "The Town," "Argo," and "Gone Baby Gone." According to Deadline, Affleck likely pulled in an eight-figure salary for his first DCEU outing, in keeping with his earnings for other films.

According to Bustle, Affleck took home $12.5 million for "Suicide Squad" — a film that gives him far less screen time than "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," which was released a few months earlier. According to the outlet, this is a pretty standard figure for him to make on a feature film. However, it's probable that Warner Bros. paid Affleck more than his standard quote to face off against Henry Cavill. Whatever he earned, we're sure it was significant.

Will Smith

Will Smith came into the DCEU as a high-profile star who regularly takes home millions for his blockbuster movie roles. Playing Floyd Lawton, aka Deadshot, in "Suicide Squad" was a calculated career move for Smith: As reported by Entertainment Weekly, he turned down "Independence Day: Resurgence" in order to portray the efficient assassin. For all his hard work in Task Force X, Smith took home roughly $13 million, according to Deadline.

Smith took on "Suicide Squad" out of a desire to move his career forward, rather than turn towards past successes. This might have been the right move for the actor creatively, but was it financially? $13 million seems like small potatoes, compared to the $100 million Smith took home four years earlier for "Men in Black 3," per The Hollywood Reporter. Additionally, Smith has gone on to earn much higher salaries: He took home $35 million for "Emancipation" (per Variety) and $40 million for "King Richard." Still, $13 million is nothing to sneeze at, and you can't put a price on creative risks.

Jason Momoa

Jason Momoa took home a cool $3 million for playing the titular superhero in 2018's "Aquaman," as reported by The New York Post. This is significantly more than his "Justice League" co-stars Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot got for their first solo features. But Momoa was already a sizable name by the time he picked up Arthur Curry's trident: Fans around the world knew and loved him as Khal Drogo from the HBO mega-hit "Game of Thrones."

Momoa's earnings massively increased in the wake of the film's success. And boy, did it find success: "Aquaman" took home more than $1 billion worldwide. This nearly doubled what "Man of Steel" raked in, and solidly tops profits from "Wonder Woman." Aglow with triumph, Momoa was easily able to renegotiate his deal for the second film, securing a much higher salary for his return to Atlantis. According to Variety, the actor earned $15 million for the 2023 sequel, "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom."

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix's turn as the titular villain in 2019's "Joker" is a dark and disturbing triumph. He plays aspiring stand-up comic Arthur Fleck, who eventually descends into madness and takes on the mantle of the infamous DC Comics baddie. This striking performance won him the Oscar for best actor and made him $4.5 million richer, according to Variety

"Joker" had a fairly restrained budget of $55 million. This didn't hamper it, however: "Joker raked in more than $1 billion worldwide. This meant that Phoenix had the opportunity to increase his salary for his second DCEU outing. Indeed, Variety confirmed that Phoenix took home $20 million for the sequel, "Joker: Folie À Deux." Will this sophomore effort measure up to the massive profits of its predecessor? And will this potential success secure Phoenix an even more whopping payday in the future? Only time will tell.

Dwayne Johnson

After pursuing the film for over a decade, Dwayne Johnson finally got to play the titular superhero in 2022's "Black Adam" (per Total Film). Though the film didn't earn the best reviews, Johnson is grateful for the experience. As he remarked on Twitter after the film's release, "After 15 years of relentless hard work to finally make 'Black Adam,' I'm very proud of the film we delivered for fans worldwide. I will always look back on the fan reaction to 'Black Adam' with tremendous gratitude, humility, and love."

Johnson didn't mention it in his Tweet, but his impressive salary probably also counts as one of the high points of making "Black Adam." According to Variety, the star made $22.5 million for his performance as the titular antihero. He was able to increase his earnings by serving as a producer on the feature, and for his efforts to hype up the film via social media. This is by far the highest salary of any actor in the DCEU. But, as one Warner Bros. executive noted, if anyone justifies that kind of salary, it's an actor like Dwayne Johnson.