Friday, June 30, 2006


What do Malkolm Alburquenque, Kirk Alyn, Dean Cain, Stephan Bender, Gerard Christopher, Bud Collyer, Timothy Daly, Danny Dark, Tim Dutton, Jeff East, Paul Hasenyager, Bob Hastings, Ralph Hodges, Emmanuel Jacomy, Yuri Lowenthal, Jason Marsden, George Newbern, John Newton, Michael O'Hearn, Sam Parker, Christopher Reeve, George Reeves, Johnny Rockwell, Brandon Routh, Aaron Smolinski, Beau Weaver, Blayne Weaver, Tom Welling, Chris Wilson and David Wilson have in common? That's right they have all played Clark Kent\Superman.

I've been a huge fan ever since I was a boy and I'm really looking forward to the new movie coming out; Superman Returns.

The press seem to be trying to create some controversy though. Have a read of this article from the Melbourne age .....

Up in the sky, it was a superhero straying to fey. Studio bosses hope director Bryan Singer has stopped the rot in the latest outing.

WHEN the first big-screen Superman, Kirk Alyn, hit the mean streets of Metropolis in 1948's Superman, a man in a uniform still got respect; even if the uniform comprised a red cape, a tight blue body suit, calf-high red boots and a pair of Jantzen-style swim trunks with faux belt.

Despite Superman Mark I's showy get-up back in 1948, no one drew on its silliness to speculate about the Man of Steel's sexuality or even workday fashion sense. The obvious rhetorical question was, "What was he thinking when he put that outfit together?" The Cold War was on and Superman fought for "truth, justice and the American way". The fact that he could fly made people think, in the iconography of the day, more of Pan Am than Peter Pan; more of steel-bodied jet than boy who wouldn't grow up."

But then all the gay stuff started cropping up on the internet and then ... The LA Times ran a long piece," says Bryan Singer, the man behind Superman's latest and most expensive big-screen outing. "I actually think Superman is probably the most heterosexual character in any movie I've ever made. I suspect the reaction is more a judgement about me and some of the themes I pursued in X-Men, and Superman is an innocent bystander."

What Singer is talking about is that, on the eve of the release of Superman Returns, Singer's $US260 million ($A355 million) relaunch of the clean-cut crime fighter and mildmannered reporter, there's a very 21st-century media frenzy playing out. It boils down to this.

Doesn't Superman seem a little, well, gay? Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say, but in both his incarnations, crime fighter and reporter, he also seems a bit closeted. The Las Vegas chorus-boy clothes, the lame excuses about why he couldn't ever marry, the Jimmy Olsen thing (whatever that was). It's hardly an unusual area of speculation in Hollywood, although it usually centres on reallife action stars rather than comic book superheroes.

Fearful that the emphasis on the Man of Steel's softer, sensitive side might turn off the legion of hard-core fans who want to see Lex Luthor brought low, the Superman PR machine has been in overdrive to straighten out his image before the film's debut."

When I made the first two X-Men movies," Singer says, "I did actually throw in a few metaphors about the mutants facing the same lack of understanding. I had this coming-out scene in X-2 where the mother says to the kid, 'Have you ever thought about not being a mutant?' So I suppose it put the issue in people's minds. But we're trying here to revive the oldest superhero franchise, so I was pretty focused on the Superman-Lois romantic dynamic."

It's partly to do with the fact that Singer resisted studio pressure to go with a well-known actor for his leading man, as Christopher Nolan did in casting Christian Bale for his Gotham City crime fighter in Batman Begins last year.

Instead, Singer opted for an unknown, the very boyish Brandon Routh, 26, and stuck with his choice despite a stand-off with studio honchos. The execs preferred someone better known but would have settled for anyone with a macho swagger. But first the gay news magazine, The Advocate, went with a cover story last month that posed the question: "How Gay Is Superman?" And suddenly it was out there.

The latest pantheon of superheroes and their studio handlers don't make it easy for themselves. The rather theatrical outfits they get around in - the capes, the tights, the stylised bat and and, in Superman's case, the muscular "S" logo and a penchant for garish colours - definitely have a flamboyant quality.

And then there's the fact they're either loners (Daredevil, the Ben Affleck character who brings to mind the 1980s New York subway vigilante, Bernard Goetz) or have close mentoring connections with younger males (Superman's Jimmy Olsen or Batman's Robin).

When the openly gay director, Joel Schumacher, did his second Caped Crusader foray, Batman and Robin (1987), he went all-out on the swish factor: George Clooney, as another celebrity Caped Crusader (following Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer), had prominent nipples and he and Robin, Chris O'Donnell, got around Wayne Manor like a pair of dilettantes. The franchise went into limbo and Singer might be smart to steer clear of celebrity casting.

Superman Returns cost $US260 million. This film is serious business. It would have to do even better than last year's Batman Begins, which made $US370 million worldwide, to be judged a success because Batman Begins cost less.

Before Singer dug a steel trench around his boy, Routh, almost as many names had floated in and out of contention for Superman as later swirled around James Bond.

Brendan Fraser, Josh Lucas, Scott Speedman, Jude Law, and Martin Henderson were among them. Tom Welling, of the Superman TV spinoff Smallville, was also a contender. But the guy the studio wanted was actor Jim Caviezel, Mel Gibson's Jesus Christ in The Passion of the Christ, and there was quite a standoff between studio and director.

Singer resisted and his ambivalence is understandable. After all, they're both messianic types with distinctive sartorial styles on the job - Kal-El, the ethnic Kryptonese name Superman changed to a WASPy Clark Kent, had a better haircut - who both use a superlative in their stage names. But Superman isn't Superstar and each brings way too much baggage for a neat fit: overlay a Christian cross over the man of steel's S and the result looks like a dollar sign.

That's not a good box-office look; not for a $US200million sci-fi extravaganza that requires clear, uncomplicated narrative lines. Suddenly, any number of action scenes could ignite a full-scale theological debate.

In one, Superman loses his footing, takes a deep sea plunge, fails to walk on water, gets a lungful, then has a sort of baptism: enough competing scriptural kryptonite to blow the scene. And then there's Lois Lane. In this film she's a mum and, while engaged to a rich newsroom executive at The Daily Planet, has never married. So after 60 years of honest newspaper journalism, and a little judicious flirting, is she now Mary Magdalene?

"I felt that our Superman needed to look like he came out of a certain evolutionary process and fit a certain look that we're familiar with, but that it just doesn't work if we see him and immediately think of actor X or Y," says Singer."

We're trying to reinvent the Superman franchise, 20 years after the last Christopher Reeves film (Superman IV: Quest for Peace), so we're not going to hitch our fate to someone's celebrity."

For Christ's sake, it's only a film!!! Sit down, shut up, and enjoy it.....

1 comment:

Lowcarb_dave said...

Yeah, ridiculous speculation!

I can't wait to see this Sunday!