Who is your favorite X-Men character? Wolverine? Rogue? Deadpool? The answer depends on who you ask and where you ask it. (Don’t pose this question in Reddit, fair warning!) It’s a subjective debate, to be sure, but one name that continually rises to the top of every online X-Men ranking: Gambit. That’s right, Remy LeBeau, the “Ragin’ Cajun” himself.
Gambit was created by Marvel Comics’ revered X-Men creative team of writer Chris Claremont and artist Jim Lee. The character first appeared in Uncanny X-Men Annual #14 (July 1990) and Uncanny X-Men #266 (August 1990). He’s a mutant with the power to transfer kinetic energy to inanimate objects, such as his signature “charged” playing cards — using them as exploding projectiles. He’s also known for his mastery of hand-to-hand combat and the use of a Japanense bo staff.
If that’s not enough intel for you, here’s a comprehensive, fan-made video explaining the character, his abilities, and his overall popularity:
Gambit is regularly associated with New Orleans, which doubles as his base of operations and frequent hideout (he’s equal parts gambler, trouble-maker, and ladies’ man). Actor Channing Tatum, who hails from the gulf coast region, has long championed the Gambit at 20th Century Fox, who holds the character’s rights. As an aside, Disney is in the process of acquiring all of the X-Men characters from Fox; the ambiguity of the Disney deal — it’s 12-18 months away from closing — is likely contributing to the film’s development struggles.
Fox, to their credit, has been trying to get a solo Gambit film off-the-ground since 2014; they’ve been close a couple of times… and yet, still no Gambit movie. It’s strange that despite the combination of a highly-popular Marvel character, an A-list actor, and Fox’s consistent success with the X-Men franchise that this project hasn’t quite come together.
Tatum met with MTV last August, where he talked excitedly about rebooting the script after Deadpool and Logan’s successes, which were darker, offbeat films with relatively tight budgets. It speaks volumes that six months later the process appears to be stuck in neutral. Here’s a clip from that interview:
Since Fox’s initial Gambit announcement, multiple writers and directors (including Rupert Wyatt and Doug Liman) have come and gone, including the recent departure of Gore Verbinski in January, as reported by Deadline. Tatum has been attached since the beginning of this process — much like Ryan Reynold’s shephearded Deadpool for so many years. Fox has committed to a February 14, 2019 release date, but it’s hard to see this date holding up, as any new director will want to put their thumbprints on the project.
And then there’s the latest Gambit bad news: it won’t be shooting in New Orleans, at least for now, according to OmegaUnderground. Production might be moving to Montreal, Quebec, which shares some cultural elements with the Big Easy — like cool French accents — and is well-known for giving studios lucrative tax breaks. But as recent as two weeks ago Variety reporter, Jeff Sneider, indicated via Twitter, “last I heard, it was being rewritten to make it ‘more New Orleans.'”
Say one thing about Fox and Gambit: they’re consistently confused about the state of this project.
Given the constant fluctuations in this film’s development, it’s anyone’s guess what happens next. If Tatum is to be believed, Gambit is leaning into R-rated territory, which probably also implies a smaller budget to reduce risk (this worked well for Deadpool and Logan). Tatum remains married to Gambit, but it’s uncertain whether Fox is currently as enamored with the character as he is. Everyone, it seems, wants this movie to happen, and yet no one seems to know how to make it so.
Gambit is a cool character with intersting abilities and a lot of potential. Whether any of this will be realized on the big screen… let’s see what happens next weel. The struggle continues.