Since the news broke that Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova snagged the coveted role of Wolverine’s homicidal ex-wife Madame Hydra in the upcoming sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, titled The Wolverine (AKA Wolverine 2), fans of the film series have been eagerly anticipating what route director James Mangold (Knight and Day, 3:10 to Yuma) would be taking the serpentine seductress.
Khodchenkova was appropriately cast as the lethal femme fatale when preliminary talks with actress Jessica Biel fell through and today, the first set photos have popped featuring the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy actress in costume as Viper.
Released via HughJackMania, the new photos features Khodchenkova decked out in a classy black dress, long gold stunned gloves and yellow reflective sunglasses. Some comic book sticklers may be upset to see that Viper’s trademarked emerald green locks are noticeably missing. What is also visible is that in one shot Viper is holding a green digital camera - perhaps doing some reconnaissance on her future love?
IMAGES REMOVE DUE TO STUDIO REQUEST
For those not so familiar with the Viper AKA Madame Hydra character - it’s time to brush up on your Marvel bad-guy back stories. Born Ophelia Sarkissian, the young Hungarian girl that would grow up to be known as Viper was taken by the terrorist organization Hydra at an early age after she was orphaned under mysterious circumstances. For twenty-two years, Viper excelled under the cruel tutelage of Commander Kraken and would quickly become his prized pupil.
Known for her expert marksmanship, keen martial art skills and unbridled brutality Viper quickly rose to become the leader of Hydra, taking up the moniker of "Madam Hydra." During her time with Hydra, Viper frequently matched wits with the likes of Captain America as well as the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – but she would later battle both Wolverine and the X-Men when she aided her then- lover Silver Samurai in an attempt to assassinate his half-sister and Wolverine’s lover, Mariko Yashida.
Viper would later use the ancient code of "giri," (or honorable debt), to blackmail Wolverine into marrying her. Although the marriage existed for political purposes and the two eventually divorced, it was hinted that they shared a strong mutual attraction (at least from Viper's perspective).
Of course, the Hydra backstory, the connections to S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America, and even the "Madame Hydra" moniker all cannot be used by Fox in this movie since Marvel Studios owns the rights to these characters and trademarks.
Not too much about the finer story details of The Wolverine adaptation outside of the obvious connections to the books. It will be a non-sequential sequel based on the fan-favorite Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's 1982 limited series and features Logan (Hugh Jackman) traveling to Japan. There Wolverine will encounter a mysterious figure from his past in a fight that has lasting consequences as "samurai steel clashes with adamantium claws".
What exactly Viper’s role will be is still unclear, but with both Mariko Yashida (Tao Okamoto) and her yakuza half-brother Kenuichio Harada AKA the Silver Samurai (Will Yun Lee), both making an appearance it seems likely that events may go similarly to those of the comics.
The Wolverine hits theaters on July 26th, 2013.