Will Superman be outed?

Is it a plane? Is it a bird? No, say gay pundits, we're pretty sure he's one of ours

On the eve of the hero's return to the big screen after nearly 20 years, gay magazines and online message boards are asking: is Superman gay? And they think they know the answer.

US gay magazine Advocate has the world's most famous man in tights on its cover with the headline: "How Gay is Superman?" Reports that Warners Bros have bought advertising on time for the film on an American gay cable TV channel have only added fuel to these flames.

Superman has had historic struggles with heterosexual romance, as the LA Times pointed out last week. If he did turn out to be homosexual, Superman would certainly be in tune with the superhero times. Only last week it emerged that his creators, DC Comics, were relaunching Batwoman, after an absence of almost 30 years... as a lesbian socialite. This is a far cry from her origins in 1956 when, as Kathy Kane, she carried a handbag and was given to swooning.

Batman and Wonder Woman are already well established gay icons, but not everyone is convinced Superman should join them. The comic books expert Liam Dineen admits he is surprised at the suggestion. "He doesn't really seem that type of guy," says the 33- year-old, who has been collecting comics since he was 12. "Superheroes in general don't seem to be gay icons to me." An assistant manager of the Megacity Comics shop in London, he is used to Wonder Woman's large lesbian following calling in.

DC Comics has not always taken a progressive attitude towards the sexuality of its superheroes. Last year it took legal action against a New York gallery that exhibited paintings of Batman and Robin in bed.

Flying Colours: 'How can he be straight?'

For Neil Geraghty of 'Gay Times', the news that Superman could be gay comes as no surprise. The tell-tale signs are:

HAIR: "Looks like he has spent some money on a good stylist."

CHEST: "Buffed."

COSTUME: "It looks like Eighties Lycra, which is still very big in the gym with a lot of gay boys, and blue is quite a popular colour."

TRUNKS: "The real giveaway. How can this man be straight?"

BOOTS: "They look like something out of Brokeback Mountain."

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