Poor X-Men director Bryan Singer got fired from the third installment of his Fox franchise in 2006 when he defected to Warner Brothers to make Superman Returns. He wanted to simultaneously revive the comic-book icon in a bold new blockbuster and pay slavish tribute to the original Richard Donner films. Bad idea. The result was a mess that pleased no one, though it does have one truly perfect sequence and most agreed that star Brandon Routh looked great as a stand-in for the beloved Christopher Reeve.
But perhaps he looked too great. Before the film even arrived in theatres, there were bizarre rumours circulating that Singer, an openly gay director, would turn Superman gay (Gawker depressingly called it “Brokeback Krypton,” har de har) and, weirder yet, that his new suit for Routh was so tight, CGI artists had to digitally reduce the size of the bulge in the actor’s shorts! Amusingly (though perhaps embarrassing to Routh), the lovely muscle-obsessed French lads at OhLaLa Mag later went right to the videotape for the real story.
All this hyper-focus on Superman’s crotch quickly went from amusing to stupid to creepy, overshadowing whatever actual merits the movie might have had. Singer had to explain to Entertainment Weekly that no one could possibly find time to airbrush every frame of the star’s pants and even BBC News featured the humiliating headline, “Superman ‘not gay’ says director.” Nevertheless, the story never went away — years later, bloggers still go on about it and one guy in particular has spent five years railing against the film and making homophobic screeds against Singer and Routh. Geez dude, even Lex Luthor takes a break once in a while.
But now, Warner Brothers is currently filming a new Superman film, one featuring the square-jawed manly-man Henry Cavill, guided by the resolutely heterosexual Zach Snyder, director of such resolutely heterosexual films as Sucker Punch, Watchmen and, umm, 300. Finally, straight Superman fans scarred by Singer’s take on the character will have a hero who won’t distress them with vague homoeroticism or any unsettling bulge in his spandex. This Superman will—oh myyyy…