Superman Returns finally hit Australia’s big screens last week. And there’s been a lot of attention focused on the film’s openly gay director, Bryan Singer.

Several months before the film opened, the US national gay and lesbian magazine, The Advocate, made Singer’s sexuality the subject of a range of not-so-unexpected headlines which spread across the US press and all over the internet: How gay is Superman?

Reportedly, it was tough for Warner Bros to decide whether this kind of rumour-mongering would be good for the box office of their $US220 million budget movie or not.

In fact, Superman Returns has had a pretty hot opening, hitting the $US84 million mark in its first five days in the US alone, making it the largest five-day opening in Warner Bros production history.

Before this record was broken, Singer was provoked by the gossiping into issuing a statement on the Man of Steel’s sexuality. In it, he described Superman as probably the most heterosexual character in any movie I’ve ever made.

But of course, Superman has always been a subject of identification for the LGBTs of this world. And not just as an object of lust, although it is worth appreciating that newcomer Brandon Routh reportedly put on 20 pounds of muscle for the title role.

Clark Kent is a closeted superhero. And that’s what The Advocate was really talking about.

In fact, Singer comes to the project having directed the first two X-Men films, already popular with the lesbian and gay community. Singer even brought over his production and writing crew from X-Men 2 for Superman Returns to bring his latest superhero to life.

Singer and team have also turned Lois Lane into a kind of superhero. She’s Supermum, raising the son she birthed in Superman’s absence, taking on her boss’s sexism in her high-powered career, battling for her life in plane crashes and shipwrecks and still managing to buy the takeaway dinner for the family.

Bryan Singer’s next project will be his most explicitly gay-themed film to date. The Mayor Of Castro Street is slated for production in 2007. Keep an eye out for it.

Also keep an eye out for our very own gay celebrity, Ian Roberts, playing one of Luther’s henchmen, Riley, in Superman Returns. It’s a nice little resonance for our Australian audiences to see Roberts working alongside Kevin Spacey’s wonderfully evil Lex Luther.

Roberts follows in the lineage of low-level Australian celebrities stepping up to the sidekick roles since Hollywood started moving its big budgets to Sydney. Anyone still remember the Matrix movies picking up some surprising Neighbours has-beens?

Yes, it all happened right here in Oz with the Superman Returns production occupying two workshops and seven sound stages for eight months at Sydney’s own Fox Studios.

And it’s not only Sydney that gets the Warner Bros treatment. The Kent family farm where Superman first crashes back to earth was filmed in Tamworth. The crew reportedly spent 12 weeks growing their own corn for these scenes, all 15 hectares of it.

Let’s hope Singer’s new film, The Mayor Of Castro Street, gets the same kind of tender loving care.

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