It wouldn’t be a reach to say Bryan Singer is a fixture in the modern superhero genre. His work with the X-Men movie franchise is partially responsible for the current booming success of the genre. The movies garner a mixed reception among fans. Still, their success helped pave the way for comic book movies to be seen as legitimate cinema.
Be that as it may, it’s hard to give the filmmaker the credit he may deserve for that because of all the controversy surrounding him. It’s no secret that he has a history of accusations of sexual misconduct that dates back 20 years. Recent allegations came in the form of a lawsuit from a man named Cesar Sanchez-Guzman in December of 2017. The plaintiff claims Singer raped him on a yacht in 2003 when he was 17.
Earlier this week, The Atlantic published an exposé chronicling his alleged history of both seducing and raping teenage boys who attest he knew they were under 18. The article is a thorough depiction that spans nearly his entire career, starting an allegation during the production of his second movie, Apt Pupil. Eventually, the article covers his most notorious accuser, Michael Egan, and four new anonymous accusers’ accounts of his sexual misconduct. The four men contend Singer groped them and manipulated them into having sex with him.
The article paints him as a man who preyed on vulnerable young men, with a circle of enablers who introduced him to teenage boys. The movie industry keeps him employed because of his resume of top grossing films. Last year, he was fired during the production of Bohemian Rhapsody for his erratic behavior and notorious disappearances, and not for Sanchez Guzman’s impending lawsuit. Incidentally, the studio quietly rehired him to help edit the film, but he wasn’t involved in any of the press tours or award ceremonies.
Back in November, Millennium Films signed Bryan Singer to direct Red Sonja. Coincidentally, the titular character, who spun out of Conan the Barbarian, is a survivor of sexual assault. In the days following the release of The Atlantic‘s article, they plan to continue to develop the film with Bryan Singer at the helm. Millenium’s founder and CEO, Avi Lerner, issued the following statement to The Hollywood Reporter regarding the allegations:
“The over $800 million Bohemian Rhapsody has grossed, making it the highest grossing drama in film history, is a testament to his remarkable vision and acumen. I know the difference between agenda driven fake news and reality, and I am very comfortable with this decision. In America people are innocent until proven otherwise.”Avi Lerner
Singer also responded to the exposé in a statement given to Deadline. He went as far as calling it a “homophobic smear piece conveniently timed to take advantage of the success of Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“The last time I posted about this subject, Esquire magazine was preparing to publish an article written by a homophobic journalist who has a bizarre obsession with me dating back to 1997. After careful fact-checking and, in consideration of the lack of credible sources, Esquire chose not to publish this piece of vendetta journalism. That didn’t stop this writer from selling it to The Atlantic. It’s sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity. Again, I am forced to reiterate that this story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention. And it is no surprise that, with Bohemian Rhapsody being an award-winning hit, this homophobic smear piece has been conveniently timed to take advantage of its success.”Bryan Singer
As if the allegations weren’t bad enough, Singer is conflating homophobia with the very real outrage surrounding accusations of pedophilia. Intentionally or not, that’s dangerous, irresponsible, and plays into a narrative that homosexuality is synonymous with sexual deviance. Above all, attempting to weaponize homophobia is harmful to the LGBTQ community.
Thursday, GLAAD removed the 53-year-old director from consideration for the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, stating:
“In light of the latest allegations against director Bryan Singer, GLAAD has made the difficult decision to remove ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ from contention for a GLAAD Media Award in the Outstanding Film – Wide Release category this year. This week’s story in The Atlantic documenting unspeakable harms endured by young men and teenage boys brought to light a reality that cannot be ignored or even tacitly rewarded … Singer’s response to The Atlantic story wrongfully used ‘homophobia’ to deflect from sexual assault allegations and GLAAD urges the media and the industry at large to not gloss over the fact that survivors of sexual assault should be put first.”GLAAD
Time’s Up also issued a statement about the situation:
All thing considered, Singer shouldn’t continue to be a go-to director. It’s time to stop letting him produce and direct comic-related projects. There needs to be some accountability. His record of producing hits for the genre doesn’t matter anymore.
Since 2000, at least half of his filmography has been comic book movies, and there’s no denying they’ve made him into a noteworthy director. In order to make a statement to the rest of the industry, Fox and other studios that produce comic book movies need to draw a line in the sand here. They can no longer ignore these allegations, and apparently the company he keeps.
Millennium Films signed Bryan Singer on for 10 million dollars. If he continues to profit off the genre, production companies like them are indirectly complicit in wanton predatory behavior and the allegedly vicious attempts to silence anyone who comes forward. In the end, it’s also important for fans of the genre to actively condemn his actions. Consumers must stop supporting his films so studios will see he isn’t profitable anymore and that he no longer represents a standard for comic book movies.
Characters admired for high morals and protecting the downtrodden shouldn’t be attached to a man who allegedly preys on children. Admittedly, it’s sobering to think the man who helped contextualize Magneto’s motives for mainstream fans may have also caused irreparable damage to these young men. That harm doesn’t erase what he did to elevate the genre, but it is just cause to stop supporting him.
Phil is a comics, wrestling, movies and music enthusiast. He knows more random factoids than he probably should and is more than often in his feelings. He can often be found dying on a hill to prove a point most people don’t care about.