'How Gay Is Superman?'

ByABC News
June 19, 2006, 4:37 PM

June 19, 2006 — -- He's clearly into fitness, and splashy summer colors.

The new film about the Man of Steel, "Superman Returns" -- which comes out, er, on June 28 -- is being advertised on Logo, the gay and lesbian cable TV channel. Now, the gay magazine, The Advocate, is asking "How Gay Is Superman?"

The Advocate is not claiming that Superman is gay. It's making a larger point -- that like many gays and lesbians, Superman has a secret life. In the closet or phone booth, as the case may be, Superman has another identity that he doesn't share with anyone.

Nonetheless, Warner Bros. executives -- perhaps afraid questions about the Man of Steel's sexual orientation may marginalize the film -- have pushed back on The Advocate's query and the Internet buzz it has created.

The film's director, Bryan Singer, who is gay, insisted to Reuters that Superman "is probably the most heterosexual character in any movie I've ever made." Whatever that means.

It's an unusual time for superheroes and outing.

DC Comics, which publishes "Superman," recently revealed that Batwoman would become a lesbian socialite and crime fighter by night. Over at rival Marvel Comics, one story line has superheroes required by law to reveal their identities -- outing themselves, as it were -- which Spider-Man, also known as Peter Parker, has just done.

Questions about Superman's real identity had been raised long before he became a gay icon.

In the Quentin Tarantino film "Kill Bill: Vol. 2," the character Bill shares his view on what Clark Kent -- Superman's other half -- says about humanity.

"An essential characteristic of the superhero mythology is, there's the superhero, and there's the alter ego," Bill says. "Batman is actually Bruce Wayne. Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When he wakes up in the morning, he's Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic that Superman stands alone. Superman did not become Superman -- Superman was born Superman."