JESSICA BIEL AND SEVERAL JAPANESE ACTORS CAST IN ‘THE WOLVERINE’

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(Updated 07/25/12: Contract talks with Biel broke down; she will not be doing the film.)

Despite over a year of setbacks, and despite losing visionary auteur Darren Aronofsky, FOX is still determined to get a shirtless Hugh Jackman back on the screen someday. Things finally seem to be moving forward on the long-delayed project, as FOX has set a release date of July 26, 2013, with director James Mangold (Walk The Line, 3:10 to Yuma, Knight & Day) behind the lens.

Several days ago The Wolverine added a bunch of well-known Japanese actors to fill out the supporting characters  featured in original Frank Miller WOLVERINE mini-series that the film is adapted from. The biggest name is Hiroyuki Sanada (Dogen from TV’s LOST and Kaneda from Sunshine) as Lord Shingen, and rest of the cast includes Hal Yamanouchi as Yashida, Will Hun Lee as The Silver Samurai, Rila Fukushima as Yuriko, and Tao Okamoto as Logan’s love interest, Mariko.

I’d rather stare at this photo for 72 hours straight than watch ten minutes of ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine.’

Today FOX also made a huge splash by offering Jessica Biel the role of Viper — a femme-fatale type who, in the Marvel comics, had ties to Wolverine and was closely associated with The Silver Samurai, one of the main baddies in The Wolverine’s screenplay. She is also known under the moniker of “Madame Hydra” because of her links to that organization, but since Marvel Studios has the rights to HYDRA locked up for their Captain America and Avengers franchises, there’ s no chance in Hades that aspect of her character will be mentioned.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Justin Timberlake’s main squeeze is unquestionably a beautiful woman, but this feels like another example of a Hollywood production looking for a “name” to stick on the marquee. Beil is kind of a blunt object, and the character of Viper is more of the slinky, seductive, and manipulative type. The role requires more finesse than I think Biel is capable of. But, I’ve been proven wrong in the past. Even though I love Scarlett Johannson, I hated that she had to replace Emily Blunt in the Black Widow role. I thought she was completely wrong for the part, however, after starting off rocky in Iron Man 2, she made the part her own in The Avengers. So, I guess we’ll see if Biel has the chops to pull this one off. If she doesn’t, this flick is going to turn into the Biel’s butt vs. Jackman’s pecs show.

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Jeff Carter

Jeff is the defining voice of his generation. Sadly, that generation exists only in an alternate dimension where George Lucas became supreme overlord of the Earth in 1979 and replaced every television broadcast and theatrical film on the planet with Star Wars and Godzilla movies. In this dimension, he’s just a guy from New England who likes writing snarky things about superheroes, monsters, and robots.