Who is Viper? The premier femme fatale of the Marvel Universe, a master manipulator, cult leader (HAIL HYDRA!), and criminal mastermind who has dogged a parade of heroes for decades. She’s now lined up to be the heavy in the new movie The Wolverine, so the question is: who is a compelling enough actress to fulfill the critical role of villain, a factor that absolutely makes or breaks any superhero film? While Jessica Biel was rumored to be in talks for the role, she backed out just before production. With the film scheduled to begin shooting in August, here are some suggestions to fill this prominent hole.
The ability to convey an aura of menace can be a challenge for any actor, but for Gina Carano it comes naturally. The former MMA standout has recently made the leap to the silver screen, scoring a lead role in the moderately well received Steven Soderbergh action-thriller Haywire, a film that played to her literal strengths if not her still-nascent acting ability. Carano has the physical gifts that will make her a convincing ‘dancing partner’ for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Help from him and the sequel’s director could help her come all the way across as convincing, well-rounded threat to the mutant hero.
The former That 70s Show actress has come a very long way from her sidekick role on a multi-camera television sitcom. She has shown great range with her roles in comedies like Ted and Friends with Benefits (the superior entry in the recent spate of sex-buddy comedies) to serious, dark roles like her role opposite Natalie Portman in Black Swan. Kunis has also shown an interest in tackling genre entertainment, being a good sport taking a role in the abysmal Max Payne movie, sidekicking in The Book of Eli and set for an appearance in Disney’s upcoming Wizard of Oz revival/reboot. If she can deliver some of the wickedness she showed in Black Swan (minus the cattiness-evil, instead some evil-evil) she’d bring a nice intensity to the role of Viper.
Introduced to the world though her role in the breakout international sensation, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Zhang Ziyi transcended the copious wirework that aided the presentation of her skills with her performance as an ingenue who develops her hidden strengths and rises to the level of hero in her own right. In the decade plus since Zhang has established herself as one of Asia’s premier actresses whose films, both dramatic and action-orientated have had her winning world-wide critical acclaim. If anything Zhang would make a great choice for Viper just so her last ‘western’ role won’t be in Rush Hour 2.
Evan Rachel Wood
After blasting on the scene with a shockingly mature performance in Thirteen when she was not much older than that herself, Evan Rachel Wood has since collected acclaim in a number of similarly smaller pictures directed by luminaries like Darren Aronofsky and Woody Allen. Her extended role on HBO’s True Blood proves she’s up for some supernatural action and the superhero movie genre could use an infusion of pure acting talent (and some of that Thirteen malevolence) rather than the shoehorning in of flash-in-the-pain media sensations (Megan Fox, Rihanna) seen in most Hollywood blockbusters.
Another young star on the rise who seems ready to break out onto to the larger scene, Olivia Thirlby has already been cast as Judge Anderson in the upcoming ‘more faithful’ theatrical adaptation of Judge Dredd, signaling her willingness to work in genre action. Being the one main heroic character who will be allowed to take her helmet off will work wonders for Olivia, rising her profile from just the person who played the best friend in Juno to a star in her own right.
Jade. The Last Seduction. Unforgettable. If there is one actress who has mastered the art of playing the femme fatale, it’s Linda Fiorentino. All but typecast in the role of the manipulative seductress already, everything right down from her acting ability to her sharp, angular features would make it seem that the character of Viper was created retroactively to fit her in same way that Robert Downey Jr. seemed such a head-smackingly obvious casting choice as Tony Stark. This coupled with a wit proven in such films as Dogma and Men in Black, Fiorentino as Viper would be more than a match for a measly feral Canadian mutant.