[UPDATE: Jessica Biel has officially signed on for The Wolverine.]
Fox is pressing ahead with three major Marvel comic-based projects, including: a rebooting sequel to Daredevil, which recently lost David Slade as director; a Fantastic Four reboot, which recently gained Josh Trank as director; and, The Wolverine, a film treatment of Chris Claremont's famous mini-series (where Logan goes on an adventure in Japan).
Jessica Biel (Blade: Trinity, Total Recall) has been offered a key role in Wolverine 2, where she would portray a well-established character from the X-Men comic universe. Meanwhile, Trank's F4 reboot has secured a screenwriter in the form of up and comer Jeremy Slater.
There was a time when Wolverine 2 was poised to arrive in theaters this month, but the X-Men spinoff/sequel ended up being delayed by a year after Darren Aronofsky vacated the director's seat (and Hugh Jackman went to work on Les Misérables). Pre-production has since gone smoother - with shooting locations, production start date, and supporting actors being locked down with relative ease.
Twitch is reporting that Biel has been approached to play Viper/Madame Hydra in Wolverine 2. The villain blackmailed Logan into marrying her at one point in the comics, and worked alongside the Silver Samurai (the main villain in Wolverine 2). Previous reports indicated that Viper plays a "newly-expanded" role in the film, and serves as the Japanese Minister of Justice's secretary - though, it's not clear exactly which elements from her comic book backstory will be carried over.
UPDATE: Deadline says that Biel has officially been cast as Victoria/Viper in Wolverine 2, which the site describes as a "juicy role."
The Wolverine begins production next month, with Fantastic Four being the next comic book flick on Fox's to-do list. That accounts for the latest report from Heat Vision which indicates that Jeremy Slater is finalizing a deal to script Trank's F4 reboot. It will serve as the director's followup to his hit found-footage film (with a superhero twist), Chronicle.
Slater, as mentioned before, is ready to breakout as an in-demand screenwriter, with his horror spec Tape 4 and action-comedy script My Spy being fast-tracked for development. He and Trank are well-versed in geek culture, which bodes well for them producing a Fantastic Four movie that needs to better please the fanbase than its predecessors (while also replicating their financial success). Moreover, Trank in particular has proven adept at crafting engaging superhero drama and action while working on a restrictive budget.
That ability should come in handy, as Fox seems intent on pushing F4 down the production pipeline as quickly (and cheaply) as possible. Trank is arguably the best man for that difficult job (given his previous experience).
It will be interesting to see how F4 and Wolverine 2 fare at the box office, given that competition from Marvel Studios is only going to intensify in the foreseeable future (with sequels like Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and Captain America 2 on the way).
Fox has to start delivering more quality Marvel movie adaptations, if it doesn't want to get left in the dust - though, many fans would be perfectly happy if Fox just gave up the film rights to those properties (*knock on wood*).
The Wolverine hits U.S. theaters on July 26th, 2013.
We'll keep you updated on Fantastic Four as the story develops.
Update Source: Deadline