After yet another release date switch and director exit, most people have pretty much given up on the prospect of seeing Channing Tatum’s Gambit star in his own solo movie. Even though the actor signed on for the role four years ago and still hasn’t appeared as the character in any capacity, Fox still wants to make Gambit a reality.
While Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox will change the direction the X-Men are heading in, the actual purchase will not be official for a while, so there is still time to get this film off the ground. However, since Gore Verbinski was the third director to leave the film, this is probably the right time to pull the plug. What might be most telling are the reasons directors have quit this project. Rupert Wyatt was said to have quit because he thought the movie was heading in the wrong direction, and not because of scheduling issues, the originally report reason. Fear of studio involvement is always an issue when dealing with big-budget movies, and this has been a recurring problem at Fox in particular
Part of the reason it’s been so difficult to bring Gambit to the big screen is the nature of the character. While Gambit has been the focus of several series of solo comics, he is most well known for his appearances as part of the X-Men team. Gambit is certainly a popular character, partly because of his role in the 1990s X-Men animated series—however, he isn’t on the same level as Wolverine and Deadpool, the only other Marvel characters Fox has recently given solo films.
It looks like Fox was leaning pretty heavily on Channing Tatum’s star power to get people excited about Gambit, as the character doesn’t have the same cinematic appeal as the most popular on-screen superheroes. Filmmakers could definitely create some cool visuals with Gambit’s kinetic card-throwing abilities, but it wouldn’t appeal to mainstream audiences in the same way as characters like Iron Man and Spider-Man. Of course, groundbreaking visuals aren’t necessary for a movie to be good, but it’s a pretty dependable way of getting people interested in a movie.
So what can Fox do with the character? It seems like a no-brainer to me to make Gambit an important piece of the inevitable MCU version of the X-Men, but the timetable makes things a bit complicated. By the time the details between Fox and Disney are sorted out and Marvel Studios gets a new X-Men film off the ground, will Tatum still be interested in the project? It took seven years for a proper version of Deadpool starring Ryan Reynolds to hit theatres, but Tatum might not have the same patience. Also, Marvel Studios might want to go in a different direction with the character.
Even if a Gambit solo movie does end up happening, I think at the very least Fox needs to rethink their strategy for it. The budget for Gambit
was originally supposed to be over $150 million
, and the latest reports surrounding the film say the movie will have a comedic tone
. First of all, that seems like a lot of money for a heist movie with a card-throwing protagonist. Also, Gambit has been a funny character in the past, but making the film an outright comedy is definitely an unexpected direction.
It’s clear that Fox still needs to iron out lots of details for this movie, and since there’s been very little progress made over the course of four years, it might be best to just bring Gambit back into the X-Men where he belongs.