Gambit from the X-Men comics is a remarkably charming cad with a devil-may-care attitude masking a deeper soul and a genuine long-lasting love for Rogue. He’s been one of the characters fans were clamoring to see on film, and unfortunately when it finally happened it ended up being Taylor Kitsch (John Carter) brandishing the cards, fancy stick, and Cajun drawl in the hellscape that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Well, Fox is calling a mulligan, but despite early reports it it is not yet guaranteed to involve Channing Tatum.
On the red carpet outside the premiere of X-Men: Days of Future Past producer Lauren Shuler-Donner, who has been with the film franchise since she purchased the film rights from Marvel in the mid-90s, was asked which X-Men characters she’d like to bring to the screen. She name-checked Gambit, and when pressed as to who might play him she confidently replied:
“It’s Channing Tatum. He’s a rogue, Channing, he’s a rascal just like Remy Lebeau. And he can handle the action, we all know that. And he’s got a really good heart, ‘cause I know him personally, I did a movie with him. So I think he’ll be great, he’ll be great for Gambit. And he’s a Southerner, too. He’s not from New Orleans, but he is a Southerner, he understands that world, and you know Gambit loves New Orleans.”
That quote was literally all we had to go off of as, rather tellingly, it was not followed by any kind of official announcement or statement on the subject from the studio. Speculation from that point forward was greatly informed by the years of rumors that Fox was looking to develop a solo film centered around Gambit as well as a separate solo film about Deadpool, development which in both cases hit a brick wall when the characters were wasted in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. However, now that X-Men: Days of Future Past has hit the big re-set button on the franchise’s continuity and, as expected, 100% ignored anything that happened in Origins: Wolverine (e.g., nothing about Wolverine and Stryker in Days of Future Past makes any sense if Origins: Wolverine actually happened) they can have a second crack at it.
Whether or not Channing Tatum will actually be involved is another story, though. Wwhile at the Cannes Film Festival promoting his apparently Oscar-caliber new drama Foxcatcher he told The Hollywood Reporter (THR) that tales of his casting had been exaggerated:
“I hope to be joining — everything’s not done yet. I’ve obviously been in talks, and we’re on the one yard line. I’m always afraid of being like, ‘Yes it’s totally happening’ and then it doesn’t happen.”
When specifically asked about playing Gambit in Days of Future Past sequel X-Men: Apocalypse, Tatum replied, “I’m dying to do it.”
Citing multiple (unnamed) sources, THR concluded that from what they’re being told Tatum’s deal would involve a character introduction in Apocalypse as prelude to a stand-alone film, which is in development with no official writer or director attached.
This is a role Tatum has made no secrets about wanting, even auditioning for the part when the character was meant to be included in X-Men: The Last Stand. However, for many we simply cannot think of Gambit without flashing to the Cajun-accented version from the legendary animated X-Men series from the mid-90s in which voice actor Chris Potter made a practical art form out of Gambit’s continual usage of the phrase “My cherie” in reference to eventual love-of-his-life Rogue.
It is surprisingly difficult to imagine Tatum attempting such an accent. For more reasons than just the accent, though, to some Tatum is not a perfect fit for the part even though, as Donner pointed out, like Gambit he is actually from the American south. Then again, Hugh Jackman was entirely wrong for the part of Wolverine. So, there’s always that.
Beyond who ends up playing Gambit, if he is to feature in X-Men: Apocalypse and do so not as a little kid who will grow up to be Gambit someday but as an adult then that would likely mean that a potential solo film would technically be a period piece. Director Bryan Singer has already made it known that Apocalypse will take place during the 1980s just as Days of Future Past primarily involves the 70s and First Class the 60s. A solo Gambit movie then set in the later part of the 80s or even the 90s is not a good or bad thing. In fact, since I only know Gambit from the X-Men cartoon which aired in the 90s there’s a part of it that feels right to me. However, it is a bit odd as outside of Wolverine the X-Men films from this point forward might all be period pieces.
The Wolverine proved that a comic book movie can really be just a quiet character study building to a big finish, and a Gambit film could be similar. It seems wiser to first introduce him as part of the ensemble in Apocalypse, but, then again, you just know they were hoping the Taylor Kitsch version in Origins: Wolverine would spark with audiences enough to kickstart a solo film. So, history could just repeat itself. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.