More news on the prospective cast of the upcoming comic-book-to-film adaptation The Wolverine emerged this morning with word that Jessica Biel has been offered the role of Viper. As Twitch points out, Viper is a very complex character who, at various times, has served as a B-list Avengers villain, an international terrorist, and Wolverine’s wife (it’s a long story).
Fans of the comics will no doubt know that there have been three separate characters known as “Viper” throughout the long history of Marvel Comics. Both the first and third iterations of Viper were men, so it seems reasonable to assume that Biel, were she to accept the role, would be portraying the second Viper, a character originally known as Madame Hydra who forcibly stole the alter ego from the original Viper, a man with the undeniably cool, yet totally unlikely name of Jordan Stryke. Given that the Madame Hydra incarnation has the most complicated backstory of the three, the role could be quite meaty, especially since that particular Viper has quite a bit of history with both Wolverine and the Silver Samurai (a character who, we recently learned, will be played in The Wolverine by Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada).
While we have no idea what the plot for The Wolverine looks like (aside from word that the film is based on the 1980s-era work of Chris Claremont and Frank Miller), this news does indicate that the film is attempting to ape the comic book adventures of Marvel’s favorite clawed antihero quite strictly. To the average person, Viper is likely a total unknown. Likewise, Silver Samurai is statistically only familiar to people thanks to his appearance in Capcom’s Marvel-themed fighting game series’ or the early 90s X-Men cartoon. Thus it seems a risky financial move for Fox to cast these two as key antagonists in the movie, unless the studio is specifically hoping to make a film that appeals directly to the hardcore comic book geek demographic.
This, of course, could prove disastrous, but if we’re to be optimistic about the flick it’s also quite likely that Fox is attempting to appease the Internet’s noisy masses, instead of creating a movie that appeals to the average person. If so, we applaud Fox for having the testicular fortitude to go ahead with such a project, as it also indicates that this movie may be as bloody, dark and tragic as the comic book storylines upon which it is based. In the Claremont/Miller books, Wolverine kills literally hundreds of ninjas, eviscerating them and hacking off limbs by the dozens. That kind of thing wouldn’t fly in a PG-13 movie, but in a truly accurate, R-rated Wolverine movie, it would be par for the course, and exactly what the hardcore fan base is hoping for.
Whichever direction Fox hopes to take this film in won’t be known until The Wolverine hits theaters in July of 2013, though the studio’s attempt to offer this role to Biel certainly makes the production more interesting. Consider our anticipation ratcheted up a few notches.