Among the slate of films set in 20th Century Fox's Marvel universe, none have been as anticipated, or as troubled, as Gambit. For such a popular figure among fans of the comics, Gambit’s lack of screen presence in the X-Men universe has been puzzling. For years now, Fox has promised that the Cajun mutant (played by Taylor Kitsch in X-Men Origins: Wolverine) would make his way to the big screen in a spinoff movie of his own, albeit now played by Channing Tatum. A series of delays, however, has resulted in the film being pushed back again and again.
Originally set to be helmed by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Gambit lost its director last year due to clashes between Wyatt and the studio over his “auteur vision” for the film. Tatum successfully lobbied for director Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow), who then officially signed onto the project late last year. The production was then set to begin in March 2016, but the film was delayed again in order to, as producer Simon Kinberg (the screenwriter of X-Men: Apocalypse) put it, get its “voice” right. Now, with the movie currently set to begin filming next year, Gambit has received yet another unfortunate blow to its production.
THR is reporting that Liman has officially left the project in what’s being called a “mutual parting of ways.” Fox is still supposedly aiming for production to start in January of next year, but as of yet no replacement for the director has been named. This news comes hot on the heels of the news that Liman is instead taking over directorial duties for the Justice League Dark movie.
At this point, fans of Gambit might have serious concerns about whether or not Gambit will ever see the light of day. It’s certainly beginning to look like the words production hell are apt for the project, but the film does have several things working in its favor. Tatum has been vocal about his desire for this movie for years now, and star power is often enough of a motivating factor to keep things moving even when it looks like everything is falling apart. Fan interest is certainly alive and well for the film, which suggests that the studio will make money off the project once it’s finally released. Hollywood, after all, is a world of bottom lines, and if fan interest is any indication the bottom line on Gambit looks pretty good.
Then there’s the persistence of Kinberg. It’s hard to accurately call a movie doomed when its producer is so intent on getting things right. If Gambit were truly stuck in production hell, it’s likely that Kinberg would’ve moved on by now. After all, there are literally thousands of characters in the X-Men universe, any number of which would make for an interesting solo movie. Kinberg’s undying commitment to both the character and the film speaks loudly in Gambit’s favor.
The reality is that these type of changes happen in the course of making movies, and losing its director at this stage of the game isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. There are still a few months to go before Fox wants to get the production rolling, which is more than enough time to find a director willing to take on a film with this much anticipation and backing. For now, it’s wait and see. We’ll keep you posted on updates as they’re available.
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. Deadpool 2, Gambit, New Mutants and X-Force are currently in development.