'Wonder Woman': Her Other D.C. Universe Includes Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as Producer

Gwynne Watkins
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Chris Pine and Gal Gadot in ‘Wonder Woman’ (Photo: Warner Bros.)

Wonder Woman‘s creator was steeped in progressive politics, but she owes her Hollywood triumph, in part, to a member of Donald Trump’s administration. If you watch Wonder Womans credits, you’ll see the name Steve Mnuchin as an executive producer; he also happens to be U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. How is it that the man in charge of reforming the tax code is also behind one of the year’s biggest blockbusters?

Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner and hedge fund manager, began financing films in 2005 when he expanded his Dune Capital Partners hedge fund into Dune Entertainment. Dune backed a number of 20th Century Fox movies like The Devil Wears Prada and Avatar before forming a partnership with director-producer Brett Ratner to become Ratpac-Dune in 2013. Ratpac-Dune formed under an agreement to co-finance as many as 75 Warner Bros. movies, and Mnuchin’s 41 executive-producer credits thus far include The Lego Movie, Mad Max: Fury Road, Suicide Squad, and yes, Wonder Woman.

In May 2016, Mnuchin joined Trump’s campaign as finance chairman; in February 2017, after Trump was sworn in, a divided Senate confirmed Mnuchin as treasury secretary. During his confirmation hearings, he agreed to divest his interests in Ratpac-Dune, per the federal rule that public office should not be used for private gain. Yet according to Deadline, Mnuchin is still “very much involved in Hollywood,” and has sold his interests in Dune Entertainment to his fiancee Louise Linton rather than fully separating himself from the operation. (If they were married, this would legally be a conflict of interest; because they are not, it’s an ethical gray area, according to an expert consulted by Deadline.) Mnuchin also found himself in hot water with the Office of Government Ethics in March when he plugged LEGO Batman, which he produced, in a press interview.

Steven Mnuchin testifies before a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be Treasury secretary in Washington, Jan. 19, 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

In addition to Wonder Woman, Mnuchin is credited as executive producer on several upcoming films,  including James Franco’s The Disaster Artist (in theaters Dec. 8) and the lost-in-the-wilderness thriller 6 Below (in theaters Oct. 13).

Mnuchin isn’t the only member of Trump’s cabinet to have a hand in the entertainment business. White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has produced and directed several films (mostly right-wing political documentaries), and reportedly made millions from a stake in SeinfeldAnd of course, when he entered politics, Trump had to stop hosting Celebrity Apprentice… though he clearly was watching the new host, Arnold Schwarzenegger, one high-profile recipient of the president’s Twitter scorn.

And while the Trump administration has faced huge protests from women, the star of the movie Treasury Secretary Mnuchin produced has been quick to identify her character as a feminist. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Gal Gadot said, ““Wonder Woman is a feminist, of course. I think people have a misconception about what feminism is. People think hairy armpits and women who burn bras and hate men. That’s not it. For me, feminism is all about equality and freedom and [women] choosing what we want to do. If it’s salaries, then we get paid equal to men. It’s not men vs. women or women vs. men.”

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