Despite breaking all kinds of box office records here in the US, it appears Wonder Woman has underperformed in overseas markets, as compared to her superhero rivals.
Wonder Woman was hands down summer’s biggest earner at the North American box office, crushing solo-superhero competitor Spider-Man: Homecoming $411 million to $330 million. But taking into account overseas markets, Gal Godot’s Diana actually earned less overall than Tom Holland’s Peter Parker. According to Forbes, only 49.7% of Wonder Woman’s worldwide gross came from foreign territories, a portion usually expected to make up around two-thirds of a superhero film’s earnings.
Forbes puts forward a few theories as to why Wonder Woman trailed behind Spider-Man in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, Mexico, and South Korea (where Homecoming did unusually well), including less familiarity with the character, Gal Gadot’s anti-Palestine stance, and good old fashioned sexism. Yet Wonder Woman triumphed here in the US in spite of all those things, becoming a cultural phenomenon. While it ranks second for the year in the US, behind only Beauty and the Beast, it’s seventh in grosses worldwide, falling behind The Fate of the Furious, Despicable Me 3, and the Chinese Wolf Warriors 2, which has earned less than $3 million stateside.
Here’s another theory. Wonder Woman didn’t underperform in international markets—after all, $407 million at the international box office is still a huge success. Its lower-than-average percentage of foreign income to worldwide gross is a mark how unusually well it performed here. And it's not hard to see why. The female superhero movie came along at a critical moment for women and girls in the US, who had just experienced the crushing pain of watching an underqualified, sexist man defeat a strong, gracious, overqualified woman in the 2016 presidential election. Girls needed a confidence boost, a reminder that they are “valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world,” and the fearless, talented, multilingual Wonder Woman was just that.
Hillary Clinton may have been the Wonder Woman America deserved, but after her defeat, Gal Gadot became the one that it needed.