It cannot be denied that cinema is currently awash with superheroes, and is certain to stay that way for many years to come if studio release slate announcements are anything to go by. While the partnerships between Warner Bros. and DC, and Disney and Marvel respectively are uppermost in the minds of most fans, the reality of comic book film adaptations is less straight-forward, with different characters belonging to different studios.
For example, while the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be considered to have begun with Iron Man back in 2008, 20th Century Fox was way ahead of the game, enjoying success with an X-Men franchise – beginning in 2000. That franchise has so far generated seven movies, with a further six planned, including spinoff titles for Deadpool and Gambit.
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The character of Gambit is a mutant with a heavy Cajun accent and a shadowy personal life. He first appeared in the Marvel comic books in Uncanny X-Men in 1990 – created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Jim Lee – and has the ability to create, manipulate and control pure kinetic energy as he sees fit. He can turn objects into explosive weapons with his mind and has a complex romantic involvement with the character of Rogue.
His appearance in the X-Men film franchise in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, saw him played by Taylor Kitsch but, as plans to give the character his own solo movie have taken shape, Fox has determined that the role will be played by Channing Tatum going forward. In a recent interview, Tatum discussed the project, and highlighted the fact that, while Gambit will be an origin story, its creative team is working hard to make it unlike any other.
“Josh Zetumer just turned in the first draft of the script, and it’s killer. None of us were sure how he was going to deal with the X-Men world. But we’re going to be changing some of the tropes of these movies. It’s always about saving the world [laughs], but maybe we’re going to shift things a little bit. There’s so many ways you can take [an origin story]. You could do it like Batman Begins, or a different take and go the Guardians Of The Galaxy route. All I can say is, I’m super excited.”
This is a refreshing approach, to say the least. While many fans bemoan the restrictions that rights issues place on the inclusion, or cinematic expansion, of certain characters (such as Hulk, for example), it is certainly the case that such issues create competition, and competition requires creative thinking. Add to this the fact that the initial treatment for the film came from Gambit creator Chris Claremont – on which Josh Zetumer’s script is reportedly based, and this Gambit solo project sounds very intriguing indeed.
Tatum also discussed Gambit himself – explaining his personal understanding of the character, and giving a glimpse of the kind of portrayal we can look forward to seeing.
“I love Gambit… I grew up in the South; my father’s from Louisiana. We’d go to New Orleans and I heard all the dialects. It felt so different from the rest of America; it has its own ancient culture. So I identified with that. And he always felt the most real of the X-Men to me. He’s kind of a tortured soul and he’s not a good guy. But he’s not a bad guy, either. He walks his own path. And of course, he plays cards and drinks and is a martial-arts badass!”
Gambit will be produced by Lauren Shuler Donner, Simon Kinberg, Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin, although a director has yet to be announced. We should expect that reveal soon, however, as the film is set to be released on October 7th, 2016.