Originally planned for a November 2016 release, with Channing Tatum starring as the titular card-slingin’ cajun, that date came and went with not even a peep from 20th Century Fox. With Magneto: Origins famously being cancelled back in the mid 2000s, fans of Gambit had every reason to be worried that his appearances on the big screen might be limited to the mind-blowingly dreadful X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
To allay these fears, X-Men producer Simon Kinberg has now stepped in to update us:
“It’s in active development. It’s a movie that we hope will be ready to go by the end of this year and shoot next year. We have two or three X-Men related movies this year so it can wait for a moment. The process has been that Channing is as determined about getting the character right as Ryan Reynolds was about Deadpool and Hugh [Jackman] was about this Logan movie. We know that when we get those right, the movie succeeds so we want to make sure we get Gambit right because we want him to be the beginning of a whole new franchise.”
Production on Gambit has been notoriously hard going. Taylor Kitsch’s portrayal of the role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine was widely derided, but frankly, it’s difficult to see how anyone could take that trenchcoat and fedora wearing ‘xtreme magician’ take on the character seriously. Nevertheless, ditching him in favor of Tatum was the way to go.
On being cast, Tatum said the following a while back:
“I don’t want to give too much away because we don’t know that much right now other than…we obviously know who Gambit is. We really do want to try our hardest to give something fresh. We’re obviously going to go to the saving the world superhero movies eventually, but maybe not for the first one.
“We want to introduce this character in a very different way. You know, when you try to do something different you never really know, right off the bat, what that is. We’re feeling our way, and really just kind of proving the concept of that person.”
With Tatum in place, the search for a director began. Doug Liman, Shane Black and Joe Cornish were mooted but fell through, with Liman dropping out to work on Warner Bros.’ upcoming Justice League Dark. That directorial search continues to this day, with the latest rumor being that Frank Darabont (currently credited with a re-write of the script) is considering the job. Whether the The Shawshank Redemption director is a good fit for a gritty mutant crime caper is an unknown quantity – but someone’s got to direct this thing, right?
Additionally, whether Gambit will ever see cinemas is anyone’s guess. There’s more than enough that’s interesting about the character, but it remains to be seen whether this will be a flop or a flush.