The Wolverine

Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper?

It was recently reported that Hugh Jackman’s upcoming solo run at a superhero movie, The Wolverine, was looking to include the green-haired, Hydra-trained, poisons expert Viper as one of its main villains. The talk at the time was that Jessica Biel had been offered the role, but soon after word broke that negotiations with the actress hadn’t gone so well, and she probably wasn’t going to be an option going forward. This, of course, left those in charge with a conundrum. Word had gotten out about one of their big villains, but they didn’t have an actress to announce as playing the part. What to do? Well, according to Twitch, they’ve moved their focus over to a Russian actress named Svetlana Khodchenkova. Though she’s mostly done work in her native country up to this point, many English-speaking audiences will remember Khodchenkova from her role in last year’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, where she received the great honor of getting to smooch on Tom Hardy.

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UPDATE: Collider now reports that “talks have broken down” between Biel’s people and the studio, so Biel is no longer in the running for the role. After a handful of announcements came out a few days ago filling the roles of Hugh Jackman’s new love, father-in-law, partner, and arch-enemy for his upcoming Japan-based adventure The Wolverine, it looked like all of the big parts in this film were probably close to being taken. But some new casting news that hit today might be the biggest yet. Twitch reported earlier in the day that director James Mangold and company had offered Jessica Biel the role of the villainous Viper, and Deadline Madripoor has since taken things a step further and reported that she’s officially been cast. So, who is the Viper? She’s a Marvel villain with a long history and complex relationships with several of the other characters who appear in this story. Part terrorist, part secret agent, Viper was an operative trained by the evil organization Hydra, who you might remember as appearing in last year’s Captain America: The First Avenger. She has no real superpowers, but she’s ridiculously good at all things deadly, with poisons being something of a specialty. Think of her as a more evil, less Russian version of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow.

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UPDATED: ComingSoon throws a real wrench in (some of) our awesome speculation with news that Will Yun Lee has joined The Wolverine as Kenuichio Harada, otherwise known as the Silver Samurai. Read on, though, as we can still have a lot of fun with our initial thoughts. Casting appears to be underway for James Mangold’s upcoming entry into the X-Men franchise, the Japan-set solo story of the world’s scruffiest mutant, The Wolverine. Of course, we already know that Hugh Jackman is on board to once again star as the title character – that’s pretty much the only thing that’s been set in stone about this project since development began an eternity ago – but now ComingSoon has some scoops on the names that will be making up the gaijin’s supporting cast, and if you know anything about Wolverine’s Japanese past, these are some big roles. Ralph Lauren model Tao Okamoto is set to play Mariko Yashida, a young Japanese girl who Wolverine falls in love with and becomes engaged to, while relative newcomer Rila Fukushima is on board to play Yukio, a sort of ninja-trained thief who often works as the clawed Canadian’s ally. The next bit of news is a little bit confusing. Listed as being cast are two more characters, one named “Shingen” and one named “Yashida.” In the Wolverine comics, the young bride Mariko has a father who is named Shingen Yashida – the head of a once great clan who disgraced their name by turning them into […]

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Movie News: Dredd

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movie news. That is all. We begin this evening with a look at Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby in Dredd, the revival of the Judge Dredd franchise. First impressions: Karl Urban’s helmet is huge and Olivia Thirlby needs more leather. Or something along those lines. Either way, it’s a good conversation starter.

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Dalek Pumpkin

What is Movie News After Dark? As of this evening, it’s a nightly movie news column that’s just happy to have a place to call home. It’s thankful for hard working code monkeys and developer-types who worked countless hours to put Humpty Dumpty (that’s actually what we call our server — coincidence, perhaps) back together again. Now it’s time to do the news. We begin tonight with the best pumpkin design I’ve seen thus far, a Dalek from Doctor Who. It was sent to me by our spooktacular Managing Editor Cole Abaius this afternoon in an email titled “Just in case we have a website ever again…” It’s been a stressful weekend.

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He hasn’t even started shooting yet on the next Hugh Jackman-starring superhero movie The Wolverine, but director James Mangold has already got his next project ready and waiting. Mangold and his producing partner Cathy Konrad have procured the remake rights to an Icelandic film called City State, which was something of a crime film, and Mangold intends on directing said remake himself. I don’t even think that City State has been released in the States, so I don’t know anything about it, but it was made by a filmmaker named Olaf de Fleur Johannesson, and according to the Mangold story that appeared on Deadline Heimaey it tells the story of four lives that intersect when foreign drug lords try to take over the Icelandic drug trade. The four characters include, “ … a crooked police captain in love with a prostitute, an aging crime boss with a heart condition looking to get out of the game alive, a mechanic determined to avenge the death of his unborn child, and a female cop who is attacked by thugs and takes matters into her own hands.” Probably my favorite thing that Mangold has done is Copland, which was also a character piece set largely in a criminal underworld, so it sounds to me like this project would be a good fit for him. The Wolverine I’m still kind of worried about though, because his work on Kate & Leopold did NOT convince me that he could direct Hugh Jackman as a believable […]

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During a little sit down meeting of the minds with MTV, Hugh Jackman and one of MTV’s interviewers talked turkey about the upcoming X-Men spinoff The e and what sort of rating Jackman and director James Mangold would be shooting for. The big, headline grabbing news is that there is actually talk of an R-rated Wolverine on the table. During their discussions, Jackman and Mangold have acknowledged that, “There’s such great temptation to make an R-rated Wolverine. I’ve always felt that. I know a lot of fans would like that. I totally get it. If there was ever a superhero that was going to be R-rated, it’s Wolverine.” These are going to be exciting words to hear for a lot of comic book fans, and many will probably come away from the interview spreading the word that an R-rated The Wolverine might happen, but I’d like to throw some cold water on that. When speaking further on the subject Jackman says that the problem with making an R-rated superhero movie is that, “In the last ten years I’ve also met many 12, 13, dare I say 10, 14, 15-year-olds, who for them Wolverine is not just cool, you see it in their eyes, he’s everything to them … you’d need to have a really good reason to exclude those fans.” Despite the quality of the reason I just don’t think there is any way that any studio anywhere would ever exclude the teen and tween crowd from a Wolverine movie. […]

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When Bryan Singer’s first X-Men came out, pretty predictably Wolverine became the breakout character of the film. Wolverine has been the most popular X-Man for decades now, and even though it had some other flaws, since that first film nailed the writing and casting of the Wolverine character so well, it was bound to be a success. Two X-Men sequels later and the Wolverine lovefest was still ongoing, so the character ended up getting his own spinoff movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That movie was such a conceptual mess and creative failure that I didn’t imagine I’d ever want to see another go around of Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine in this X-Men universe again. It started out good, but then you ran it into the ground. Let’s all move on. But then the impossible was announced. Darren Aronofsky would be making a sequel called The Wolverine, it would have little to nothing to do with X-Men: Origins, it would be set in Japan, and it would very closely follow the first Wolverine in Japan limited series from the comics. Holy heck, I desperately wanted to see a Wolverine movie again. Unfortunately, over the course of the development of this film, everything that initially excited me about it has been systematically stripped away from the concept. First the director, the man whose name got me excited about this movie in the first place, dropped out of the film because he couldn’t spend so much time shooting in Japan. That was a devastating […]

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It didn’t take long after the character of Wolverine got added to the X-Men back in 1975’s “Giant Size X-Men #1” for him to take the pop culture world by storm and become one of the most beloved and prolific characters in comic book history. By the time 1982 rolled around, the character was so big that he was ready for his first solo title, and so a Chris Claremont-penned Frank Miller-penciled four issue mini-series was released seeing the character travel to Japan, get engaged to a woman named Mariko, and battle some modern day samurai. That first Wolverine in Japan storyline showed the most human side of the character we had seen yet, and over time it has become pretty seminal. That’s why the upcoming sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, adapted to the screen by The Usual Suspects writer Christopher McQuarrie and simply titled The Wolverine, will be drawing on it heavily for inspiration. But we’ve known all of that for a while. What is the new news on the development of this project? The Wolverine used to be a highly anticipated upcoming film back when Darren Aronofsky was attached to direct, but once he dropped off the hype machine died down quite a bit. The last we heard about it, 3:10 to Yuma director James Mangold was most likely to be stepping into Aronofsky’s shoes, and shooting would most likely begin in fall. That news was met with a collective “meh” from the online world, so we haven’t […]

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Ever since acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky unceremoniously dumped The Wolverine as his next project, scholarly people all over the planet have been asking themselves what he would end up doing instead. Suddenly, that situation is a little less unclear, as Deadline Daberath reports the director is close to getting his long gestating project Noah off and running. Several years ago, when talking about possible future projects, Aronofsky described Noah to /Film by saying, “I think it’s really timely because it’s about environmental apocalypse which is the biggest theme, for me, right now for what’s going on on this planet. So I think it’s got these big, big themes that connect with us. Noah was the first environmentalist. He’s a really interesting character. Hopefully they’ll let me make it.” Back then he hadn’t made a bunch of money and acquired a bunch of high profile awards from making Black Swan, so the chances of the studios letting him make a biblical epic didn’t seem quite so plausible. But today, in a post Black Swan world, Aronofsky’s vision suddenly seems a lot more likely to happen. Apparently the filmmaker is looking for $130 million to get the film made, and New Regency is already trying to set themselves up as co-financers of the project. In order to make this proposal a reality, Aronofsky is going to have to find another studio to pick up the rest of New Regency’s financial slack; but that might not be so much of a problem as […]

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Variety has gotten its hands on the director shortlist for The Wolverine, and it, mostly, consists of fairly safe and obvious choices. But, like many of these lists, a great and head scratching question is posed: Does Hugh Jackman and company actually know what type of movie they want to make? When a list of favored directors features the likes of Mark Romanek and the director of Tokyo Drift, it boggles the mind. Here’s the apparent list of favored options that, per usual, you should take with a slight grain of salt:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It is a nightly movie news column dedicated to featuring painfully overtread characters from the part of the Marvel universe owned (cinematically, at least) by the 20th Century Fox corporation. It might as well be called X-Men After Dark. Hmm… maybe Fox will buy some sponsorship rights. They need all the help they can get after X-Men Origins: Wolverine. “A good Wolverine film could be an amazing thing.” Duncan Jones said this mere days before he confirmed that he will take a meeting with 20th Century Fox about the possibility of directing The Wolverine, taking a director’s chair left empty by the departure of Darren Aronofsky. As geek cred goes, Jones has perhaps as much as anyone working right now following Moon and Source Code, and he’s smart enough to pull it off. Here’s hoping the project is a good fit and that Fox makes the right call.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s your definitive source of Pixar pandering, at least for tonight. But hey, at least we get it out of the way in a single article. Try reading other sites — it’s Pixar this, Pixar that, even the new Batman reboot will be done by Pixar. Good grief. That said, we watched The Incredibles on Blu-ray this evening and it was INCR… you get the idea. Now on with the news. We begin tonight with news that excites me. It’s no secret that Max Brooks’ book “World War Z” is a personal favorite of mine. It’s exceptional in every possible way and one of the great zombie apocalypse stories ever written. So to see it come to life as a movie is risky, but worth it. When the project was reportedly in danger a few weeks ago, I was sad. But now I’m happy(ish) again, as a new report says that World War Z could get financing and even begin shooting this summer. If I could, I would will this project to happen. It may be impossible, but I’m going to try.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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Since the production would keep Darren Aronofsky out of the country and away from his family for a year, The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the director will no longer be directing The Wolverine for Fox. It’s up to industry people smarter than I am to figure out whether that’s a political answer or the honest one, but as a movie fan, this is incredibly bittersweet. Aronofsky is a director with a vibrant vision and the brass buttons to make films the way he wants to make them, so seeing him dig his heels into the genre fare of comic book movies felt like seeing Andy Warhol paint a landscape. On the other hand, it would have been a challenge in and of itself to make something so broadly, commercially appealing while still taking chances (if Fox was set to allow him to take any).

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With DJ Caruso directing Preacher, it becomes the second cult western literary adaptation to be taken on by an averagely talented, workhorse director (although Caruso doesn’t even come close to Ron Howard’s league). This might be the natural evolution of “geek” properties being co-opted by Hollywood. A decade ago, it was Sam Raimi bringing his Evil Dead prowess to a web-slinging comic of note. Now, the grittier material is getting notice, but middling directors will start earning the paycheck. So it goes. The list of directors who could bring the story of a Texas preacher man whose been imbued with the power of pure goodness and pure evil (and the power to command people to do his bidding) to life is a long one. So is the list of directors better suited than DJ Caruso. Here are just seven of them (ranging from the obvious to the not-so), but feel free to brainstorm more:

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