Bryan Singer is in talks with Warner Bros top brass to direct a high-action Superman sequel to open no later than 2009.

Speaking at the COMIC-CON popular culture convention here in San Diego, Singer said he had not agreed terms yet but confirmed he was keen to make the picture.

"Now that there's a context with characters who we're invested in, now we cango into the action realm," Singer told jubilant attendees. "It's a way ofrolling it out that I learned on X-Men."

The status of a sequel and Singer's role in it was thrown into doubt following the release of Superman Returns, which is believed to have cost Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures morethan $250m and despite a strong critical reception has taken a relatively light$178m at the domestic box office, and $288m globally.

Singer's comments would appear to dispel much of the uncertainty surrounding a second Superman episode, although the filmmaker stressed he wanted to make a smaller film before returning to the blockbuster realm.

The four-day event hosted a number of high-powered studio presentations thatscreened exclusive footage from Spider-Man 3 and Ghost Rider (Sony), Saw III(Lionsgate), Pirates 3 (Disney),and Snakes On A Plane (New Line),among others.

Speaking at an all-star Spider-Man 3 panel director Sam Raimi offered an olive branch to Danny Elfman, whocomposed the score on the first two Spider-Man episodes before a personal rift appeared to endtheir professional relationship.

The composer's baton literally passed to Christopher Young, a genre specialistwho previously collaborated with Raimi on 2000's The Gift. But Raimi clearly believes this intriguing sub-plotmay have a twist in the tale.

"Danny created a lot of the themes on Spider-Man and I would like him to get involved," Raimi, currently in post-production ahead of the May 4 2007 release, said. He added: "I would like Chris to give me an assist on that."

This was the only sombre note on a generally lighthearted panel as Raimi joked with cast members Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Thomas Haden Church, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Topher Grace.

Church and Grace play the villains Sandman and Venom, while Raimi let slip that James Franco's Harry Osborn character will go after Peter Parker in some kind of goblin incarnation. Raimi added that he was considering an Evil Dead picture once work on Spider-Man 3 ended, and said he was discussing it with producing partner Rob Tapert and Evil Deadstar Bruce Campbell.

On the subject of villains, the Marvel Studios panel unveiled a pair ofcharacters in upcoming productions. Jon Favreau's Iron Man will pit his wits against The Mandarin, while The Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier, whose credits include the Transporter series and Danny The Dog, said the green ogre would battle Abomination.

Marvel Studios chief Avi Arad suggested The Incredible Hulk would represent a departure from Ang Lee's ill-fated 2003 version. "The idea is to make the action adventure we're all trying to make," Arad said. "We got a glimpse of it before and now we're really going to see it. It's going to be a bit more like the TV show in tone."

"We know the origins of the character and the new version will be more aboutBruce Banner hating the monster he becomes and looking at how he deals with it," Leterrier added. Zak Penn is writing the screenplay in time for an April 2007 shoot.