SuperHeroHype is reporting that four actors of Japanese decent have been cast for The Wolverine. The casting seems to confirm that the sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine will based at least in part on the classic Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Wolverine miniseries, although roles credit to each actor call into question exactly how the characters from the miniseries will be portrayed on screen.
Model Tao Okamoto has been cast as Mariko Yashida. Mariko is the daughter of Japanese crime boss Shingen Yashida and a romantic interest for Wolverine. Mariko is at first repulsed by Wolverine’s savagery, but eventually falls in love with man beneath all the rage. The feeling is mutual, and Shingen uses Logan’s love for Mariko to manipulate the mutant. The love affair becomes complicated when Shingen and Wolverine become at odds with one another.
Model/actress Rila Fukushima has been supposedly cast as Yukio. Yukio was another love interest for Wolverine in the Claremont/Miller miniseries. She is a Japanese martial arts expert who is portrayed as a free-spirit with a wild, devil-may-care attitude. She is not above getting her hands dirty in battle, which appeals to the similar qualities in Logan. However, Yukio is not what she seems, and this duplicity will spell danger for Wolverine in his conflict with Shingen.
Where the stars don’t completely align is with the male actors cast. SuperHeroHype has Hiroyuki Sanada, left, playing Shingen and Hal Yamanouchi, right, playing Yashida. However, there is only one Shingen and male Yashida in the original miniseries–Shingen Yashida, the main antagonist, pictured at center. While Yamanouchi bears a stronger physical resemblance to the comic book character, Shingen is portrayed as more than a physical match for Wolverine, defeating him at least once in the miniseries, a plot point that would be more believable with Sanada in the role.
Now the question is, what role exactly are these actors playing, and how far does it vary from the original miniseries? Is Sanada playing Yamanouchi’s son? Are they playing two different characters with no relation to one another? Or, since the press says that Wolverine faces off against a “mysterious figure from his past,” both Sanada and Yamanouchi playing the same character, albeit at different points in the character’s life?
I guess we’ll find out more as we get close to The Wolverine’s July 26, 2013 release date.