Since 2014, Fox’s solo Gambit film starring Channing Tatum has been the film that keeps chugging along in development limbo yet seemingly never gets any closer to the destination that is the big screen. After missing out on playing Gambit in the much maligned X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Tatum signed a contract to play the card-throwing Cajun mutant in May of 2014.
Over those four years, the film has restarted its script and has lost three different directors (Doug Liman & Rupert Wyatt being the first two), as news recently broke that the latest director Gore Verbinski has moved on despite the film reaching finally the point of casting & filming set to begin in March.
Losing another director has led to the film also being pushed back from its February 14, 2019 release date to a June 7, 2019 release.
Channing is still attached to star in the film but now the search for a director has begun again.
That’s why it’s time to just let this film die.
Gambit is a character that even in comic book and animated form has met with a pretty divided fanbase. He’s not really one of the X-Men top tier well-known characters that general audiences can name, but he’s managed to be a prevalent character since his debut in the 80s.
With an X-Men film franchise that is seeming all over the place when it comes to film, the main series showing its age lately with diminishing returns caused by a bogged down & confusing mess of a timeline among other things, and giving a main feature to a character that isn’t that well known seems like a poor choice.
Giving Hugh Jackman his own solo films, despite how poorly the first one did, was a no-brainer after he pretty much dominated the first three X-Men movies. There is also the fact that Wolverine is one of the most popular and well known X-Men characters.
The fact that three directors have all decided to just move on rather than bring this film to life says a lot. If there is nothing for a director to really connect to (which is what Liman said about the previous script after his departure) why would fans really connect to this character and film?
Because of how much fans know about films and their development these days, there is also the fact that many in the audience will know that this film has been toiling away in limbo with no one wanting to stick around that that is likely to color many opinions.
Not those of the vast general audience of course, as most of them do not follow this sort of news the same way that us fans of the original adapted materials do.
Channing Tatum wants to play Gambit, and that’s great, but maybe it’s for the best if that is done through one of the ensemble films first. That allows the audience to gauge his version of the character and decide if they truly want to see more of him.
Recently there have been reports of James Franco handling a Multiple Man film for Fox and reports of a possible Kitty Pryde film as well. Fox wanting to expand the X-Men brand is a good move, but this is starting to feel like they are just throwing things against the wall to see if it sticks without really wanting to put in the effort to reshape and make their universe work again.
They had hits with Logan and Deadpool but really both of those are down to the directors and the stars that were putting their all into the products, as well as the fact that Logan had a ton of emotion attacked as it was the final time that Jackman played the clawed mutant and Patrick Stewart played Professor Xavier.
These other characters, who are at various levels of popularity with Kitty being the most popular of the three, just don’t feel right to slap into solos just for the sake of it. Deadpool at least has the popularity of being one of the silliest Marvel characters and is known for being a more solo character like Wolverine.
All that being said, this film could very well turn out to be really great and I could end up eating all these words. In fact, I would love for that to happen.
I would love to walk out of the theater after seeing Tatum’s Gambit and tell everyone that I was wrong and making a Gambit film was the smartest move that Fox has made since Deadpool or Logan.
Realistically I’m not that certain that will happen.
At this point after scrapping multiple release dates and losing a trio of directors, Fox (or Disney once they buy these parts of Fox) should just scrap what they have and really look at their universe as a whole. As mentioned in another of our articles this week, hitting the reset button on the entire franchise is the best move that could be done.
That way you could easily fit in a Kitty or a Gambit into films that feel right for them, and test out the characters alongside the main X-Men team that is allowed to develop and isn’t just stuck in a gimmick of decade jumping and cramming as many mutants as possible into a film.
Gore Verbinski is out on Gambit, and now it’s time for Fox to get out on the film as well. It’s for the best.