Fox seems to be hell-bent on making Gambit. It is an X-Men film that they have faced a lot of problems with, and maybe they should just go ahead and scrap it. The film has seen various directors come and go, and the release date has been postponed repeatedly. If there is one thing that has not changed then it is Channing Tatum’s enthusiasm about playing the “swamp rat” from X-Men. However, that’s not enough to propel the movie on to the big screen. Production has now been again delayed, and it is not ruled out that Fox won’t ever make this movie after recently losing Gore Verbinski and the release date being pushed back to next year. That’s how it has been for several years now.
There has to be something terribly wrong with this project, and Fox needs to take a deep, earnest look at Gambit. Although their X-Men movie slate looks awesome, this is a title that we believe should be canceled.
FOX HAS BEEN TRYING TO MAKE A GAMBIT MOVIE FOR YEARS
It’s been a number of years that Fox has tried making this film. In fact, Tatum was almost cast as Gambit in the 2006 film X-Men: The Last Stand, but, the character got written out. Later when was occupied with filming G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and Gambit ultimately debuted in X-Men Origins: Wolverine after a few years (the role was bagged by Taylor Kitsch). Still, Fox stayed hopeful about the character being capable of successfully carrying a solo spin-off. There were reports about Kitsch having signed a three movie deal.
Move ahead to 2014, Lauren Donner disclosed that she had started planning a Gambit movie with Tatum. In October 2014, Fox roped in Josh Zetumer to write the script. Tatum was going to co-produce, and the movie was given a release date of October 7, 2016. After a search spanning across several months which witnessed Gareth Evans, Bennett Miller and J.C. Chandor passing it on, Gambit ultimately found Rupert Wyatt in June 2015. But, instead of resolving, things became more complicated from that point.
That was the time when Fox was dealing with the scenario of losing Hugh Jackman and felt that they need to find another franchise lead. They pinned their hopes on Tatum’s Gambit, aiming to make it a blockbuster. However, rumors came up about Tatum being unimpressed about the thought; the film wasn’t shaping up like he had expected it to. Wyatt exited in September 2015. At the time Wyatt had attributed his exit to scheduling issues, but, reports indicated that he had become unmanageable and wanted to redo the script.
GAMBIT’S RECURRING DIRECTOR WOES
Keen to stick to the release date, Fox searched frantically and found Doug Liman, who had started redoing the script by November 2015. That’s when producer Simon Kinberg figured out that the movie might turn out to be very different. Fox had spotted the growing interest in R-rated characters such as Deadpool and Kinberg started thinking of Gambit as a “sexy thriller.”
While the script was being reworked, Fox canceled Gambit’s release date, and Liman started filming other movies. With the passage of time, Liman became disconnected from the project and ultimately in August last year, he formally exited. Ironically, Liman was hired to work on DC’s Dark Universe.
Few more months lapsed with an occasional update on Gambit. Tatum and Fox maintained that the film was “in active development,” but, the studio could find another director only in October when Gore Verbinski came on. The movie got a new release date of February 14, 2019. Further compounding the matter, Verbinski exited last month. Fox has once again rescheduled the release date to June 7, 2019. At present, there is no director working on the movie.
FOX HAS NO CLUE WHAT THEY WANT FROM GAMBIT
Gambit’s problem is not very complex. Channing Tatum wants to make a Gambit film, and Fox wants Gambit to be a big film, but, neither the actor nor the studio has a clear idea of what they are expecting from it. Is Gambit expected to be a franchise leader similar to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine? Or do they want to produce another low-cost R-rated film like Deadpool and Logan? Fox’s plans keep changing according to their latest success, but, the fact that they are so fickle minded implies that they have no clear vision for Gambit.
Tragically, it has a reason. This is happening because even Marvel Comics was pretty much clueless about Gambit. Iconic X-Men writer Chris Claremont created the character, and he was originally planned to backstab the X-Men. However, the character’s acceptance among fans surprised Marvel and track was changed by including him in the X-Men Blue Team during the 90s. The decade was witness to the start of a long-term romance between Gambit and Rogue. The relationship is extremely popular with fans, and it pretty much defines Ragin’ Cajun.
It is often female characters who evolve beyond being love interest, but, Gambit is an exception. He is the bad guy whom Rogue wants to redeem, the guy who wants to get the girl whom he can’t touch. Their on-off love affair has been steady since the 90s (they presently feature in a Gambit and Rogue series which has further scaled things up. But, Rogue has also been able to survive solo as a character and even led an Avengers team. On the other hand, Gambit has been marginalized. His current series hasn’t been doing well in sales generally and has had short runs. Even team comics depicting Gambit have not done well. During 2014, when his All-New X-Factor got canceled, the writer Peter David remarked that “it’ll probably be a long time before [Gambit] gets to star in another book.”
TIME HAS MOVED ON FROM GAMBIT
Gambit was great in the 90s, mostly because he was a bad boy with a great heart. The inconsiderate flirt who was in love and was trying to be loyal. The mystery person who is aware of the fact that he doesn’t deserve to be loved by a woman, but, longs for it nonetheless. Fans such as Tatum have grown up with Gambit and consider him to be the epitome of cool.
However, the time has changed, and even Gambit’s love affair with Rogue has adapted darker shades. If a film is really going to recreate that affair, Gambit would have to be different. He was the guy who didn’t know how to say no, who would hoist Rogue in his arms and try to kiss her despite her squirming and telling him to stop. It was all depicted in a weird, and slightly uncomfortable way; that Rogue also was tempted by him, but, was restraining her own desires. The arc has aged terribly.
All these things imply that there is not much for Fox to play with. In Logan, they made a superb film which merged a classic Wolverine narrative “Old Man Logan” with the popular X-23. In Deadpool, they encashed a highly popular and entertaining character of today’s Marvel comics. With the upcoming New Mutants, Josh Boone is making a horror film based on a classic comic book series. However, there is hardly any compelling background to Gambit, and whatever little there is, doesn’t sit well with prevalent culture.
We know Channing Tatum is in love with Gambit’s character, but, that can’t be reason enough for Fox to make a film. The film has been rotting in development hell since 2014, and once more a director has abandoned the project. It would be best for Fox to shelve it, and let Gambit rest in peace forever.