Over the course of the past two decades, the X-Men franchise has experienced its fair share of ups and downs. Marvel's original big-screen super team, has quietly been crafted into an expansive cinematic universe complete with mutant teams, prequels, and solo spin-offs. However, there have been plenty of bumps along the way.
After setting the template for how to adapt a superhero story with X-Men and X2 in 2000 and 2003, the franchise faltered with a series of disappointing releases. With the latest release, X-Men: Apocalypse, 20th Century Fox finds itself at another crossroads with the franchise. It follows their biggest comic book movie hit ever, Deadpool, which grossed nearly $800 million dollars, on a meager $50 million dollar production budget. So the studio is thinking very carefully about their next new character to get a solo release, specifically Gambit.
The long in-development project has Channing Tatum attached as a producer and to star as the Cajun thief, Remy LeBeau a.k.a. Gambit. Meanwhile, producer Simon Kinberg is overseeing the entire X-Men universe for Fox and masterminding exactly how the universe will expand in the near future. It's no secret that the Gambit project has had a rocky beginning including lost directors, actors, and conflicts with the lead, that has made many people lose faith that the film will ever be made. Kinberg addressed the tough pre-production in a recent interview with /Film:
“I think the truth is when you have these movies that need a very special and unique tone, it takes a little while to find that tone. Deadpool feels like it exploded out of nowhere but it was a ten-year development process on that movie. I think it was honed over those 10 years. I hope that Gambit doesn’t take 10 years but it takes a little honing to get that tone and that voice exactly right. The character has such a specific voice in the comic in the same way that Deadpool has a specific voice in the comic, that we want to make sure that we capture that voice on the page. Really it’s just about getting a screenplay that is worthy of that character and I think we’re really close right now.”
The success of Deadpool can be attributed to many more factors than simply its R-rating. Most important of them was the filmmaker's ability to translate the unique tone, comedy, and perspective of the comic book onto the big screen. The result was a movie that not only felt fresh, but also one that felt necessary and relevant due to its distinctive outlook. Kinberg explains that they are trying to take the same type of patience and care to create an authentic adaptation of Gambit as well. While Gambit isn't as popular of a character as Deadpool in the comics, he does have nearly as many idiosyncrasies and personality quirks that can set him apart from the pack.
Many have questioned the need for Fox to make an entire movie focused on Gambit. Kinberg's quote does shed a little light on why he has become such a high priority for the studio. Their last release, X-Men: Apocalypse, received mixed reviews with most critics seeming exhausted by a plot that felt formulaic and familiar. However, Gambit definitely has a unique viewpoint and history within the world of the X-Men. Lebeau has his roots as a Louisiana thief, who doesn't begin as an inherently heroic figure, which would open up a whole corner of the X-Men universe that has yet to be explored.
While the superhero genre seems to be as strong as ever at the box-office. Audiences are demanding authentic and trend-setting takes on their characters, not simply rehashes of what has come before. Hopefully, Kinberg and company have an approach to Gambit that will make the wait worth it for eager superhero fans.
Wolverine 3 opens in U.S. theaters on March 3rd, 2017, followed by unannounced X-Men films on October 6th, 2017, March 2nd, 2018, and June 29th, 2018.