Wolfgang Petersen to direct ''Batman vs. Superman'' -- The ''Perfect Storm'' filmmaker plans to shoot a comic-book epic that would turn Warner Bros.' two biggest franchise superheroes against each other

Warner Bros. has had difficulty in recent years getting new ”Batman” and ”Superman” pictures off the ground, but that hasn’t stopped the studio from greenlighting a movie that would feature both superheroes. In the works is ”Batman vs. Superman,” which already has a screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker (”Seven”) and a director in Wolfgang Petersen (”The Perfect Storm,” ”Air Force One”). No stars have been cast yet, though the studio expects to do so within the next month, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Apparently inspired by an old DC Comics side project, the story involves DC heroes Batman and Superman teaming up to fight a menace, only to differ on tactics and turn against each other. ”Superman stands for what is powerful, clear, bright, noble and just; Batman is dark, obsessive and vengeful,” Petersen tells the Reporter. ”Because they are so different, they will inevitably end up clashing. It will be a battle of the titans.” He says the film will be character-driven and not just an action spectacle. ”We are not going to go with typical action stars but great actors who will do an action-oriented part.” (Think Tobey Maguire in ”Spider-Man.”)

Although Petersen says he hopes to shoot the film early next year, Warner Bros. still has two unrelated movies in development featuring the same characters. Darren Aronofsky (”Requiem for a Dream”) is attached to direct ”Batman: Year One,” which would be the first Caped Crusader film since 1997. Superman, who hasn’t been on screen since 1987, is poised to return in a movie written by J.J. Abrams (”Alias”) and to be directed by McG (”Charlie’s Angels”) — this after the studio spent $140 million commissioning at least three screenplays (including one by Kevin Smith) and doing abortive pre-production on a Superman movie in 1998 that would have had ”Batman”’s Tim Burton directing Nicolas Cage as the Man of Steel. Neither ”Batman: Year One” nor the Abrams/McG ”Superman” has a cast or a start date.

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