Building from the critical and financial success of X-Men: First Class and The Wolverine solo film, 20th Century Fox has placed an enormous amount of trust and financial backing in X-Men and X2 director Bryan Singer for the time-traveling shared universe kickoff X-Men: Days of Future Past. The film will bring back both the original X-Men cast (lead by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen) as well as the First Class team (lead by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) while also attempting to sew-up plot holes and controversial filmmaking choices that plagued earlier installments (most notably Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand) – in order to streamline the franchise in preparation for the recently announced X-Men: Apocalypse movie.
Days of Future Past is an ambitious project, and X-Fans will have to wait another month (from the time of this writing) to find out if Singer is able to make good on all of these goals – on top of delivering a smart and entertaining X-Men movie experience. Still, the filmmaker knows what’s at stake, already talking up characters he’d like to utilize in the Apocalypse movie – including everyone’s favorite Ragin’ Cajun, Gambit (along with Nightcrawler).
But who could play Remy Etienne LeBeau? In the build-up to Days of Future Past, X-Men series producer Lauren Shuler Donner mentioned the studio had met with Channing Tatum for the part – indicating, at the time, that she was eyeing the 22 Jump Street star for a solo Gambit movie. Now, following months of speculation about whether or not Shuler is actually “dying to do a Gambit movie with Channing Tatum,” the actor has officially confirmed that he met with the film producer and “would love to do [a Gambit movie].”
Speaking with MTV, here’s the full quote from Tatum:
I met with Lauren Shuler Donner. And I would love it. Gambit is really the only X-Man I’ve ever loved. I mean I’ve loved them all, they’re all great, but I guess from being down south – my dad’s from Louisiana, I’m from Mississippi, Alabama, Florida – I don’t know. I just related to him. He’s just kind of suave… He’s the most un X-Men X-Man that’s ever been in X-Men. Other than maybe Wolverine, who’s like the anti-hero. He’s a thief. He’s not even a hero. He’s kind of walking the line of grey. He loves women and drinking and smoking and stuff so he’s just a cool guy who happens to have a moral center. I hope it [comes together]. You never know it’s a weird industry. If the stars align, I would die to play it. I’m already working on the accent. It’s crappy at the moment.
If the “stars align” and Tatum is given the part, he’d be replacing Friday Night Lights star Taylor Kitsch. Despite a respectful turn in Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor, Kitsch has been the victim of one box office bomb after another – starting with his turn as Gambit in the derided X-Men Origins Wolverine solo movie.
Still with Shuler talking up solo films for everyone from Gambit to Mystique (if Jennifer Lawrence was willing to continue in the role), it’d be naive to think that any of the producer’s recent wish list projects will be announced any time soon. While a Gambit (or Mystique) movie would be fun to see and, inherently, include solid potential, 20th Century Fox has yet to see knockdown blockbuster returns from any of their previous X-Men series films – and, before tie-in projects can be taken seriously, the studio needs to ensure a successful launch for Days of Future Past.
Most entries in the series earn-back solid profits (especially after merchandising) but the franchise is not the ticket selling powerhouse some fans might think (or hope). Currently the combined worldwide box office of the six X-Men movies is $2.3 billion – whereas the four installments in Sony’s Spider-Man franchise have, collectively, raised 3.2 billion at the global box office. As a result, until the studio receives stronger returns from the core film series, it’s highly unlikely that any new solo characters will be launched – especially one that wasn’t included in any of the successful team-up movies. If Fox is going to start a new solo series to accompany Wolverine and the X-Men, Deadpool is the most likely candidate – especially given his ties to X-Force (a shared universe movie that is actually in development and more than casual producer name dropping).
That said, with the news that Singer wants Gambit in X-Men: Apocalypse, it’s probable that Tatum is a frontrunner for the role – even if Shuler’s interest in a solo film is farther down the line. Unfortunately, the actor only confirms prior talks and did not elaborate on when the conversations took place. For that reason, the current state of his potential involvement is unclear – since his meeting with Shuler might have been months back, long before Singer began laying out a plan for Apocalypse, or relatively recent (meaning that Tatum could even be in active/on-going talks for the project).
Upon the original revelation that Tatum had met with 20th Century Fox for a Gambit role, fans were mixed about whether or not the actor could actually deliver a satisfying version of the character – with many skeptics pointing to Tatum’s extremely buff physique as a drawback. That said, the actor has earned a lot of goodwill the past few years with enjoyable performances in a number of successful films (especially 21 Jump Street) – even flexing solid dramatic chops in Magic Mike and Side Effects. In spite of fan outrage, Tatum is an understandable choice for the studio – given that he’s an increasingly well-known, and likable, leading man that casual moviegoers turn out to see.
Nevertheless, while Tatum isn’t the meathead that some naysayers think, and could easily slim-down for the role, he’ll still need more than a love for the character to win-over skeptics. Of course, that doesn’t mean that he might not surprise his critics either – should Singer actually choose to cast Tatum in Apocalypse.
X-Men: Days of Future Past releases May 23, 2014, followed by Fantastic Four on June 19, 2015, X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016, The Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 on July 14, 2017, and an unspecified Marvel film on July 13, 2018.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates on the X-Men franchise as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.