Fox Don't Know What They Want From Gambit
The problem with Gambit is a simple one: Channing Tatum wants to make a Gambit movie and Fox believe Gambit could be on the big screen; but neither star nor the studio seem to have a solid idea what they actually want from the film. Is Gambit intended to be a franchise-lead, akin to Hugh Jackman's Wolverine? Or does the studio want to make another low-budget R-rated spinoff, in the vein of Deadpool and Logan? Fox's intentions vary depending on their latest success, but the fact they could pivot so easily suggests they lack a clear vision for Gambit.
Ironically, there's a reason for that. It's because even Marvel Comics has never had a clear vision for Gambit. The character was created by legendary X-Men scribe Chris Claremont and was originally intended to betray the X-Men. Marvel was surprised at the character's popularity and quickly changed direction, making him a member of the X-Men's Blue Team in the '90s. That decade saw Gambit begin his longstanding romance with Rogue. As popular as this relationship may be with fans, it's essentially come to define the Ragin' Cajun.
Related: Gambit Movie Character Breakdowns
It's usually female characters who become little more than the love interest, but Gambit is the exception to the rule. He's the bad boy who Rogue longs to redeem, the one who wants to have the girl he can't touch. Their on-again-off-again relationship has been a constant since the '90s (they're currently starring in a Gambit and Rogue series that's kicked things off once more). However, Rogue has been able to stand on her own two feet as a character, even leading an Avengers team. In contrast, Gambit has been sidelined. His ongoing series have rarely performed well in sales, and have had short runs. Even team books featuring Gambit have struggled. In 2014, after the cancellation of his All-New X-Factor, writer Peter David noted that "it’ll probably be a long time before [Gambit] gets to star in another book."
Culture Has Moved On From Gambit
Gambit was a successful character in the '90s, largely because he was a walking archetype; the bad boy with a heart of gold. The irreverent flirt who's actually fallen in love, and is trying to be faithful. The secretive figure who knows he doesn't deserve a woman's love but wants it nonetheless. Fans like Tatum grew up with the character and considered him to be the height of cool.
But culture has moved on, and even Gambit's romance with Rogue has taken on sinister undertones in retrospect. If a modern film actually recreated that relationship, Gambit would be a sleaze. He was the man who couldn't say no, who would cradle Rogue in his arms and try to kiss her even as she squirmed and told him to back off. It was all portrayed through a strange, now slightly disturbing lens; that Rogue was attracted to him too, but was denying her own desires. The arc simply hasn't aged well.
All this means Fox actually have precious little to develop. With Logan, the studio produced a breathtaking film that blended a classic Wolverine arc - "Old Man Logan" - with fan-favorite X-23. With Deadpool, they tapped into one of the most popular and entertaining characters of modern Marvel comics. With New Mutants, director Josh Boone is creating a horror film inspired by a classic comic book run. But there is barely anything solid behind Gambit; and what little there is, doesn't fit with contemporary culture anyway.
It's true that Channing Tatum loves the character of Gambit, but that's not a good enough reason for Fox to make a movie. The film's been in development hell since 2014, and yet another director has passed on the project. It's time for Fox to call it a day, and let Gambit slip off their radar once and for all.
- Deadpool 2 (2018) release date: May 18, 2018
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020
- Gambit (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020