Based on a much-loved four-issue Marvel Comics arc by X-Men luminary Chris Claremont and The Dark Knight Returns maestro Frank Miller, The Wolverine follows Logan to Japan, where he finds love, a sense of honor, and all manner of trouble with the local underworld. Naturally, one would expect that the Japanese setting would entail hiring no small number of actual Japanese actors, but such a common sense approach doesn't always win out.
In this case, it looks like common sense may very well be prevailing, since the first word on casting consists exclusively of, you know, Japanese actors and actresses. Coming Soon/Superhero Hype have word from Fox that four important roles have been filled, with more on the way. Playing Mariko and Yukio, respectively, are two newcomers, Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima. While those two are not known here in the States, the actors playing Shingen and Yashida might be a bit more familiar. As the former, we've got Hiroyuki Sanada, a big deal in Japan whose American credits include The Last Samurai, Lost, Revenge, and Danny Boyle's underseen Sunshine. And playing Yashida is Hal Yamanouchi, who appeared in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Way Back.
Beyond the characters' names, we don't know any more about just what these roles entail.
Now that Hugh Jackman has finished up his work on Les Miserables for director Tom Hooper, he's getting back to the character that made him a big deal Stateside. The Wolverine will shoot principally in Jackman's native Australia next month, though the production will also spend some time in Japan.
Darren Aronofsky was originally set to direct the standalone X-Men adventure until he abruptly dropped out last spring. 20th Century Fox spent some time finding a suitable director before eventually hiring James Mangold, the 3:10 to Yuma and Knight and Day director who will reunite with Jackman, his star in Kate and Leopold. Oscar-winning The Usual Suspects scribe Christopher McQuarrie wrote a screenplay about which everyone seemed thoroughly psyched, but that script was nonetheless revised by Mark Bomback, whose work includes Live Free or Die Hard and the upcoming Total Recall remake.
The Wolverine is scheduled to hit theaters on July 26, 2013.