Well, that didn’t take long. In a week that saw Jessica Biel land and then abandon the role of Viper in “The Wolverine,” it looks like a replacement has been found, although it’s a name that’s going to need a bit more room on the poster.
Twitch reports that Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova is now in talks to play Viper in James Mangold‘s film, with the deal for her role expected to close quickly. She’s probably best known for her part in last year’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” as the mysterious and enigmatic Irina. Khodchenkova joins Hugh Jackman in the Japanese-strong cast that includes Hiroyuki Sanada as gang boss Shingen, Tao Okamoto as his daughter Mariko, Rila Fukushima as assassin Yukio, Hal Yamanouchi as gangster Yashida, Will Yun Lee as villain Silver Samurai and Brian Tee as a corrupt politician.
Originally a Captain America antagonist before becoming the presumed lover of Silver Samurai, Viper has no real powers but is best known for her athletic ability and skills in martial arts as a swordswoman and a markswoman. She first comes across Wolverine when thwarted by the clawed anti-hero in trying to poison gang boss daughter Mariko but, in later comics, she became more ambivalent, blackmailing Wolverine into marrying her, and developing real feelings for him.
Considering that we really haven’t seen Khodchenkova in anything but ‘Tinker Tailor,’ we have no idea if she’s right or wrong for the role, other than matching the character’s Eastern European background. But she did impress in Tomas Alfredson‘s film, so she’ll be bringing some strong acting chops here. Production gets underway next month and the film hits theaters on July 26, 2013.