No one is more excited about the potential of a Gambit-centered X-Men movie than Channing Tatum, the actor who’s not only set to headline the solo character spinoff, but is the driving force behind the project becoming a reality. It’s a situation similar to Ryan Reynolds patiently waiting years for the same studio, Twentieth Century Fox, to greenlight Deadpool – the other 2016 X-Men spinoff that he’s helping actually produce.
Unfortunately for Mr. Tatum at the moment, he can’t seem to find a director who shares the same passion as him for the project. Where Reynolds has director Tim Miller, who’s been attached since the beginning for Deadpool, Channing Tatum reportedly has nothing but a series of “no thank you” responses from the directors he’s reached out to so far to helm Gambit.
In April, Umberto Gonzalez reported that directors Bennett Miller (Moneyball, Foxcatcher) and Darren Aronofsky (Noah, The Wrestler) were both offered the directorial gig for Gambit, but each one ultimately passed. Miller of course, worked with Tatum on the Oscar contender Foxcatcher and Aronofsky is no stranger to the X-Men franchise – having been attached originally to help The Wolverine, where he would have re-teamed with Hugh Jackman.
We’re currently at a point of time where Gambit needs to begin shooting this fall to meet its October 2016 release date. The first draft of its script by screenwriter Josh Zetumer (RoboCop) has already been turned in. Tatum, producers Lauren Shuler Donner (longtime X-Men franchise producer) and Simon Kinberg (current overseer of Fox’s Marvel universe), and the studio already know how and where Gambit fits into the larger X-Men cinematic universe – and now, they have to find someone who will play by their rules. And historically, that’s been tricky.
Gavin Hood infamously had a troubled time with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Matthew Vaughn was rushed with X-Men: First Class and their are reports of all sorts of behind-the-scenes problems for Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four (but there’s no telling how much of that is true). Still, Fox seems to be turning over a new leaf in terms of taking their Marvel licenses seriously. That’s why Gambit and Deadpool are happening as passion-fueled projects and why the studio is putting resources behind both launching in the same year as their biggest superhero movie to date in X-Men: Apocalypse).
According to Meet the Movie Press (via ScreenCrush), both Gareth Evans (The Raid: Redemption, The Raid 2) and J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year, All Is Lost) were approached about directing Gambit as well; and like the aforementioned pair, they also reportedly turned down the job. We can’t verify if any of these talks actually turned into full-fledged offers, but the four names that we know about so far emphasize that Tatum and the studio are interested in making Gambit something unique and different (like has been promised), again raising comparisons to Deadpool. This is needed given the current climate of superhero movies coming out every month or two beginning in the next two years.
Fantastic Four opens August 7th, 2015, Deadpool on February 12th, 2016, X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27th, 2016, Gambit on October 7th, 2016, Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3rd, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 on June 9th, 2017, and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13th, 2018.