X-Men: Days of Future Past was an ambitious and successful hybrid that managed to act as a sequel to both the original trilogy and the rebooted timeline at the same time, but it would be fair to say that the main installments in the mutant franchise never managed to hit those heights again. While it wasn’t a disaster on the same sort of scale as Dark Phoenix, Apocalypse was nonetheless a major disappointment that wasted one of the most iconic villains in comic book history and squandered a lot of audience goodwill in the process.
It even featured a post-credits scene that went absolutely nowhere, as the mysterious Essex Corp showed up to retrieve a DNA sample from the Weapon X facility. Of course, this was set to lead to the long-awaited live-action debut of Mr. Sinister, a character that fans had wanted to see in the movies for a long time, but by the time Dark Phoenix went into production, the idea had been dropped completely.
It turns out that this may have had a lot to do with Channing Tatum’s proposed Gambit, which spent years mired in development hell and cycled through several directors before being mothballed completely once Disney had completed their takeover of Fox. In a recent watch party, Simon Kinberg confirmed that Apocalypse’s stinger was originally set to be paid off in the Ragin Cajun’s solo debut where Essex Corp and Mr. Sinister would act as the major antagonists.
“We had a tease of it at the end of Apocalypse. The Essex Corp is something that you see in a tag at the end of Apocalypse. We had talked doing something with him, and I won’t get into the specifics of it since it’s no longer a 20th Century Fox property, and now it’s part of the MCU. I have no idea what the plan is. But Mr. Sinister was going to be part of the Gambit movie starring Channing Tatum.”
It seems incredibly unlikely that the original incarnation of Gambit will ever be resurrected at Marvel Studios, with the X-Men’s new owners keen to distance themselves from what came before, but Kinberg still believes that it might yet see the light of day.
“All of the movies at Fox are being evaluated. I love the idea of Channing playing Gambit. I think we have a great script for it, and I think it’s a role he was born to play. It’s a character I grew up loving, and I know the fans love. So I suspect, I hope it will happen. There will be a lot of mixing and merging now and I’m all for it and excited to see.”
Given that we already saw twelve X-Men movies from Fox, which ultimately ended in disaster with Kinberg’s Dark Phoenix bombing hard, the chances of Marvel Studios retaining Tatum’s services and dragging Gambit out of development hell appear to be very slim, and that’s being generous.