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If you were starting to believe that "The Wolverine" was never actually going to happen, that would be understandable.
After all, when Darren Aronofsky left the film, it seemed to drop off the radar. Sure, we've heard that James Mangold is now attached to direct, and we've heard vague rumbles from Hugh Jackman over the last year or so, but it's been a fairly quiet development process for a while now.
Today, four names were added to the film's cast, and it appears to confirm not only the creative direction the film is headed but that the film is indeed gearing up now for production and release in 2013. For longtime fans of the character, some of the characters names of the new cast members may seem familiar, and it definitely seems like they're taking the Japan-based run of stories by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller and using them as the basis of the script that they plan to shoot in Japan and Australia later this year.
According to Coming Soon, Hiroyuki Sanada is going to play Shingen Yashida, who was a Yakuza boss and the father of Mariko Yashida, the Japanese woman who Wolverine loved. It's a tragic storyline, and it looks like Tao Okamata will be playing Mariko in the film. There's another important woman in Wolverine's life during the Japanese storyline, Yukio, an assassin who works for Shingen. She'll be played by Rila Fukushima. I'm a little confused by their report that Hal Yamanouchi is playing "Yashida" in the film, since that's Shingen's last name, and I doubt both of them are playing the role. However, Shingen does have an illegitimate son who was also a mutant known as the Silver Samurai, and I wonder if the confusion over the roles has to do with him appearing in the script as well. Then again, Variety is reporting that Will Yun Lee is playing one of the film's villains, and they have him pegged for The Silver Samurai, so I guess we'll see.
It's a really dense and interesting storyline to draw on for a film, and even better, it doesn't feel anything like the other movies in the "X-Men" universe so far. I'm excited to see if they can successfully build a non-traditional superhero film around the rock-solid characterization that Hugh Jackman has contributed since the debut of the first film in 1999. It's great to see them casting these characters because it suggests that they're really going to try to do this story right.
Right now, "The Wolverine" is scheduled for release in July 26, 2013.