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    "Superman vs. Batman" Pushed Back

    Superman, Batman: You've been dissed.

    You know how you used to think of yourselves as super-powerful superheroes? Well, according to a Hollywood exec, you're "good wine." And you're being put where good wine is stored--in the cellar.

    Hot plans for the would-be blockbuster Superman vs. Batman--much touted when the flick was announced in July--are cooling. This, after director Wolfgang Petersen, a month ago talking up Matt Damon as a possibility for the team-up franchise, opted to direct another movie before turning his attention to the "World's Finest" heroes.

    Petersen will first mount the Trojan War epic, Troy, today's Hollywood trade papers report. That film is set to begin production next spring, with a 2004 release planned.

    The German-born filmmaker (The Perfect Storm) remains committed to Superman vs. Batman. ("I'm looking forward to directing [the movie] in the future," he says in Variety.) He's just in no rush to make it. Neither, curiously, is the studio.

    "We decided that Batman vs. Superman is like a good wine--it will find its time and only get better," Warner Bros. exec Lorenzo di Bonaventura says in The Hollywood Reporter.

    So, what's really up? Maybe nothing. It's not like the project was that far along to begin with--although Petersen had been talking up his vision of the two characters. (Superman good--"powerful, clear, bright, noble and just"; Batman weird--"dark, obsessive and vengeful.") Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven) had been tapped to write the script, but you'd be hard-pressed to find any buzz about it in fan circles.

    The Reporter speculates Petersen isn't so much down on superheroes, as he is motivated to make his historical epic before a bunch of Gladiator-esque projects come roaring into the arena. One of the competing projects is set to star XXX's Vin Diesel as Hannibal the Conqueror (not to be confused with Hannibal the Flesh-Eating Psycho).

    And if you want to get technical about it, Troy does have loftier source material than Superman vs. Batman. It's based on Homer's The Iliad. Brad Pitt's name has been floated for the Homeric hero, Achilles, according to the Reporter.

    Superman vs. Batman originally was pegged for a 2004 release, but that's not going to happen now. If it's so inclined, Warners can go to its cellar and next uncork its long-planned Superman solo flick (now with a script by Alias' J.J. Abrams) or its equally long-planned Batman: Year One project (to be directed by Pi's Darren Aronofsky).

    Unless, of course, the studio wants those wines to age a little longer, too.

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