Marvel films have been making big buzz all year long, with The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man both seeing major success at the box office and speculation about spin-offs and sequels dominating the headlines. While Sony/Columbia and Disney/Marvel enjoy the spotlight, Twentieth Century Fox is about to begin work on the next installment for the X-Men franchise with Hugh Jackman returning to his career-defining role in The Wolverine.
The film begins shooting next month and conveniently timed on the eve of Comic-Con 2012, the same venue where Hugh Jackman told Screen Rant last year that Silver Samurai would be The Wolverine's main villain, we find out that multiple actors have joined the cast in key roles.
The news comes from Coming Soon, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety who report that five Japanese actors (and one American-Korean) have signed for the X-Men Origins: Wolverine sequel. CS claims two newcomers in Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima, and two veteran actors in Hal Yamanouchi and Hiroyuki Sanada have signed, with Hal Yamanouchi playing crime boss "Yashida" and Hiroyuki Sanada playing "Shingen" - in the books, those names together (Shingen Yashida) is the name of the father of the original Silver Samurai and their report doesn't clearly explain who's playing who. The second Shingen in the comics is the son of original Silver Samurai Kenuichio Harada who goes by the name of "Shin" (short for Shingen Harada).
According to Variety, it's Will Yun Lee (Total Recall) - the only non-Japanese actor reported to join the cast today - who will step into the shoes as the mutant antagonist Kenuichio Harada, known as the Silver Samurai. The character has the ability to charge up his weapons in such a way that it can cut through any metal, including (conveniently), Wolverine's Adamantium bones and claws.
Tao Okamoto is playing Mariko Yashida, love interest of Wolverine and daughter of Hal Yamanouchi's character who we can safely assume is Shingen Yashida, leader of The Hand organization. Rila Fukushima is playing Yukio, an assassin and ally of Wolverine. THR has word that Brian Tee (Crash) has also joined the cast as Noburo Mori, a corrupt politician who Mariko is supposed to marry as arranged by her father.
The casting at least offers further credence to the idea that The Wolverine will follow the source material closely, which in this case directly refers to the popular '80s Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Wolverine series set in Japan. It also seems to indicate that the leaked plot/character details for the film (that Fox asked us to take down) were rather accurate.
The Wolverine hits theaters July 26, 2013.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.
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