By Piya Sinha-Roy
SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A sequel to last month's hit "Superman" film "Man of Steel" is not only in the works, but will feature two of DC Comic's best-known caped crusaders - Superman and Batman - facing off against each other, director Zack Snyder said on Saturday.
Snyder, who directed British actor Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent, was a surprise addition to the end of the Warner Bros. film panel at San Diego's Comic-Con, an annual comics convention, and received thunderous applause from the 6,000-plus in attendance.
After announcing the plan to bring the two superheroes together, Snyder issued a statement via Warner Bros. saying the two would be fighting each other, and conceded this might surprise some.
"Let's face it, it's beyond mythological to have Superman and our new Batman facing off, since they are the greatest superheroes in the world," said Snyder, who has been confirmed as director of the as-yet unnamed sequel.
While both Superman and Batman are superheros in the DC universe, they have been portrayed as nemeses in DC's "Dark Knight" comics, from which Christopher Nolan adapted his "Dark Knight" Batman franchise. Nolan will serve as executive producer to the sequel, Warner Bros. said.
The studio is banking on the success of other recent films that have paired up heroes from the comic book universe, such as Disney's Marvel superhero ensemble "The Avengers" in 2012, which made $1.5 billion at the worldwide box office.
Nolan's 2012's "The Dark Knight Rises," starring Christian Bale as Batman, has made more than $1 billion at the global box office.
"Superman" has not always seen a success at the box office and 2006's sequel starring Brandon Routh did not perform up to industry expectations.
But Snyder's darker reimagining of the complex superhero in "Man of Steel" grossed $621 million worldwide and with Nolan as executive producer, rumors had been circulating that Batman and Superman could soon appear together on screen.
Cavill will reprise the role of Superman in the sequel, and "Man of Steel" stars Amy Adams, who plays Lois Lane, and Laurence Fishburne will also return, Warner Bros. said.
The film is slated for release in summer 2015, but there has been no word on who will play Batman. Bale has previously shot down rumors that he would play the masked hero again.
Greg Silverman, president of creative development at Warner Bros., said the studio could not think of any director better suited to bringing Superman and Batman together.
"Zach Snyder is an incredibly talented filmmaker, but beyond that, he's a fan first and he utterly gets this genre," he said in a statement.
Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc, showcased a number of upcoming films on Saturday at Comic-Con, including "Seventh Son," "300: Rise of an Empire," "Godzilla" and "The Lego Movie," which will bring together Superman and Batman in animated Lego form.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Mary Milliken and Eric Beech)