So, Really, How Gay Is Superman?

6.18.2006

By Jeffrey Epstein

After an absence of nearly two decades from the big screen, Superman is back. Under the helm of director Bryan Singer, it was suggested (and in many circles, feared) that Superman would somehow become 'gay.' From our sister publication The Advocate to queer journo Mark Simpson who takes on the idea in his http://marksimpson.com/blog/2006/06/ " target="_blank">blog (and penned the 'Sporno' feature in our July issue), everyone has their take on the sexuality of the guy who wears tights. Unlike the X-Men films Singer directed, which easily lent themselves to queer parallels, Superman is fairly straightforward and'straight. (An early draft of the script had Jimmy Olsen as gay, but that detail was excised.) That said, the movie could have certainly used a little queering up, as it lacks a strong sense of cohesion. At the start we learn Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent has been on a quest to find the remnants of his home planet, Krypton, for five years. He returns and learns that life has gone on without him, although somehow there seem to be so many crises happening in the world, it's a wonder the planet didn't self-destruct a week after he left. Clark (Brandon Routh) returns to his job at the Daily Planet to discover that the love of his life, Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth), has a boyfriend (James Marsden) and a son (whose lineage comes quickly into question), but photographer Olsen is just as eager and perky as ever, which begs an interesting question: How is it that five years have passed and no one looks a day older than 22? Were they all interning at the Planet before Superman took off? Meanwhile, Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) has gotten out of prison and inherited a fortune, which he plans to use to take over the planet, along with his ditzy girlfriend (Parkey Posey, flawless as always, although eerily channeling Valerie Perrine from the first Superman movie). Singer tries (perhaps unwisely) to balance the action with human drama, and soon Lane begins questioning whether she should accept a Pulitzer Prize for writing a story called 'Why the World Doesn't Need Superman' since he's back and the world clearly does, until her editor, Perry White (a hilarious Frank Langella) quips, 'Pulitzer Prizes are like Academy Awards: Nobody remembers what you got them for.' For whatever it may lack, Singer's film has a lot of great humor'not to mention dazzling special effects (Clark's X-ray vision is fun to watch). Bosworth starts off a little wooden, but ultimately pulls off her role (although I'd be lying if I didn't note I missed Margot Kidder, who so brilliantly balanced Lois's confidence with her fragility). And Spacey is, well, Spacey'not a bad thing in a role, which calls for a maniacal villain who seems totally sane. It's Routh who is in a bit over his head. He's incredible to look at, but while he does shine in moments, his acting is all over the charts. That's not to say Superman Returns doesn't have its share of emotional moments, thanks, in generous part, to gay composer John Ottman's soaring score, which wonderfully builds on John Williams's original theme (also used in the movie). Unfortunately, the directing feels heavy-handed (just wait for the Christ-like symbolism!), and while there are many terrific parts, the sum is ultimately not so super.

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