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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

Superman gay? no way, honey

My review of the film is here.

Um, where is this “Superman is so totally GAY, ohmigod!” stuff coming from? I saw Superman Returns last night — it is awesome and stupendously geeky and I absolutely loved it; watch for my review next week — and I gotta say: I don’t see it. Now, sure, maybe the actor, Brandon Routh, plays for the other team — I don’t know and that’s not the point, not even allowing for the fact that plenty of gay actors have played straight, and totally convincingly. (Though it would be very sad if Mr. Routh was wasting all that delicious hunkiness only on other men…) The question is, Is the depiction of Super/Clark Kent a bit limp in the wrist or light in the loafers or whatever dumb gay euphemism you care to use?

Sure, the cape is a bit gay, which is more obvious today than it was in the 1970s, when no one realized that even the Village People were gay, but I’d bet the rent that director Bryan Singer felt far less free to futz with Superman’s supercostume than he did with the X-Men’s attire — I’d bet the next month’s rent that for most people, Singer’s movies were their introduction to the X-Men mythos, but when it comes to Superman, his image is iconic even among people who have never read a comic book in their lives. The cape, we’re stuck with it.

And, absolutely, Clark is a dork, if charmingly so, in that square-jawed, apple-pie-eating, all-American farmboy way, but that’s always been true of Clark, hasn’t it? Which, it seems, may be part of the reason why some folks are calling homo on the poor boy, not that there’s anything wrong with that: because he’s something of a gentleman. (The rather ill-mannered debate about the actor’s, ahem, natural endowments, which may or may not be, oh my, rather or rather not prominently, um, highlighted by the Superman tights appears to be the other end of the idiotic controversy.)

Now, it’s true, as really spectacular as the film is, that there isn’t much chemistry between Routh and his costar Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. But I think it’s safe to say that any deep-down romantic, hotblooded, heterosexual American gal will find quite a bit to swoon over in this Superman. And please: if it’s naught but a fantasy that there are no straight men who are sweet and kind and honorable and something less than purely hormonally driven horndogs, for gawd’s sake, don’t spoil our fantasies.

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  1. I saw the film, too. I loved it! Here’s a pretty interesting review that draws parallels between Superman and Christ. It’s really positive as well:


  2. Not to disparage Hollywood Jesus, but you’d have to be both blind and deaf not to see the explicit Jeebus-ness Singer is playing with with his Superman.

  3. I started reading a bunch of those wacky articles and the only thing I found out is that Singer himself plays for the other team. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  4. What MaryAnn said. The Christian/Catholic/whatever references are so obvious in this movie that I kept expecting someone other than me to start calling it “The Passion of the Ubermensch.”

  5. Aw, calling it *The Passion of Superman* is a bit much, I think. It’s not like Singer depicts Supe being flayed to within an inch of his life or anything.

    Actually, that coulda been pretty funny, cuz you couldn’t flay Supe to within an inch of his life, could you? You’d think Jeebus would have more superpowers than Superman, but I guess not…

  6. It’s coming from the current obsession among the fangirl community whereby everything and everyone must be gay because ZOMG GAY IS HAWWWWT. :P

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