With a recent flurry of casting announcments surrounding James Mangold’s The Wolverine (including Will Yun Lee as the villain Silver Samurai and Tao Okamato as love interest Mariko Yashida), it looks like the long-gestating project is finally happening. The seeds were planted in one of the three theatrical alternate endings to X-Men Origins: Wolverine where we saw Logan (Hugh Jackman) in Japan, drowning his sorrows in a dive bar. It was a hat tip to fans that the next film might be an adaptation of Wolverine’s landmark original limited series, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Frank Miller. In it, Wolverine seeks out his former lover Mariko in Japan and finds her married to a ruthless businessman entangled with a clan of ninja assassin known as The Hand.
Today’s big news (via Twitch) is the announcement that Marvel is seeking Jessica Biel to play Viper (aka Madame Hydra), a character most often associated with Iron Man and Captain America and not Wolverine. Viper has been heavily involved with Silver Samurai, and played a part in an assassination attempt on Mariko, but it’s a bit of a surprise that Marvel licensed a character that’s so entrenched in HYDRA lore out to the X-Men franchise. Could it be a bit of a power play on Fox’s part to use the character now so that Marvel Studios won’t be able to in future films?
Biel was last seen in a Marvel film as vampire hunter Abigail Whistler in Blade Trinity, which is unconnected to the X-Men films. She’ll soon be gracing the screen in this Summer’s Total Recall remake. Fox is eyeing a July 2013 release date for The Wolverine.