[UPDATE: It's Confirmed that Svetlana Khodchenkova is playing Viper.]
The upcoming X-Men movie sequel, The Wolverine (a.k.a. Wolverine 2) has had its fair share of troubles. Even if director James Mangold (Knight and Day, 3:10 to Yuma) makes a perfect followup film about the X-Men's burly bruiser, fans will still be left wondering what could've been, had Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (Usual Suspects) brought their version of the film to the screen.
Besides the complete breakdown of that earlier version of The Wolverine, the current version in production has had its fair share of issues, including production snags and, more recently, the near-miss casting of actress Jessica Biel as pivotal Wolverine villain, Viper. With the role of the serpentine femme-fatale still vacant, we are now hearing word of an actress who may step up to replace Biel.
You may not know the name Svetlana Khodchenkova, but that's okay. Unless you're a fan of Russian cinema, the only place you would have seen her stateside is if you sat down to watch the slow-burn (some say boring) spy thriller, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. If you've seen the film: Khodchenkova played the wife of a Russian agent who was turned into a not-so-confidential informant by an MI6 agent played by Tom Hardy (Dark Knight Rises). Her performance and... 'exit' from the film is surely something that left impression on me, at least.
Twitch is reporting this story and was the site to first jump on the Biel casting news; confirmation of the casting comes from The Wolverine's Facebook Page. What we've heard is that Viper - a longtime staple of Wolverine comics - has been given a "newly-expanded" role in the film, which will reportedly establish the character as a secretary for the Japanese Minister of Justice - though, answering phones and fetching coffee probably won't be in her job description. (Kicking Wolverine's ass? Assassinating key figures? Much more likely.)
The comic book version of Viper has also served as the head of HYDRA; but with that organization being part of the Marvel Studios Cinematic Universe (see: Captain America) - which is separate from the X-Men movie universe owned by 20th Century Fox - don't expect to see any cross-blending of those two worlds. If anything, the role of Viper in Wolverine 2 sounds pretty close to the Lady Deathstrike role played by actress Kelly Hu in Bryan Singer's X2. While that might not seem as juicy as the complex character of Viper we've seen in the comics, this could yet and still be breakout role for Khodchenkova as a Hollywood actress.
The Wolverine will be in theaters on July 26, 2013.
Updated Source: The Wolverine's Facebook Page