If the rumors are to be believed, Channing Tatum is no longer slated to play Gambit, the red-eyed, Creole, member of the X-Men. This isn’t just bad news. It’s tragic. Let me explain.
In the 15 years that Fox has been making X-Men films, we’ve been introduced to live-action versions of some of Marvel’s most iconic heroes and villains like Magneto, Mystique, and Wolverine.
Technically speaking, Gambit first made his way to the big screen in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine where he was played by an underwhelming Taylor Kitsch. There was nothing outright bad about Kitsch’s performance, it just wasn’t all that interesting.
His Gambit didn’t have much of an accent, he barely spoke any French, and, most disappointing, his playing cards didn’t explode. If there's one thing to know about Gambit, it's that he throws exploding playing cards.
The thing about Gambit that’s made him a fan favorite since his first appearance in issue #266 of The Uncanny X-Men is the fact that despite never having actually led the X-Men, Gambit’s a leading man. X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s mistake was making Gambit a throwaway character and Fox, to its credit, almost certainly realized it.
Last year, after many months of speculation, Fox announced that it was developing an X-Men spinoff film built around Gambit that would fit into its recently rebooted X-Universe. The solo movie was to star Channing Tatum and for a brief moment, there was a chance that the public would finally get to see the cinematic Gambit that it deserved.
Remy LeBeau (Gambit's actual name) is many things—a ladies man, a thief, and a mutant with the ability to manipulate kinetic energy. Mostly, he blows things up. But he's also an accomplished acrobat and hand-to-hand fighter.
Channing Matthew Tatum (the actor's full name) is also many things—a former model, an actor, and a ridiculously talented dancer with precisely the kind of innate athleticism (and sex appeal) that could bring a character like Gambit to life.
You may have heard of a little film called Magic Mike (Or its sequel Magic Mike XXL). It's a movie about a man who dreams of building avant-garde furniture. He also strips on the side with a damn near superhuman prowess.
Earlier this month, Channing Tatum surprised every single person attending San Diego Comic Con when he made a guest appearance during the X-Men: Apocalypse/Deadpool double panel. Tatum, wearing a Gambit t-shirt, took to the stage to join Stan Lee, Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Lawrence, and all of the other Fox superheroes in an epic, Marvel-fueled selfie.
At the time, the message was clear: Gambit was coming to Fox's universe of mutant heroes.
It's unclear why the actor's rumored to be distancing himself from the project, though he's expressed interest in focusing more on his production company 33andOut. Signing on to play superhero roles these days basically equates to agreeing to sign away multiple years of your professional life.
Still, though…what if?
Think to yourself: what it would be like to watch Channing Tatum decked out in skin-tight, flexible, body armor, fighting evil using French kickboxing, a bo staff, and a handful of exploding cards?
In the same way that Patrick Stewart was born to play Professor Charles Xavier and Hugh Jackman was born to play Wolverine, Channing Tatum's performance as Gambit would be a sight to behold.
He isn't just the Gambit that nerds want to see, he's the Gambit we need.
UPDATE: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tatum will, in fact, be FOX's Gambit. Discussions purportedly went through a bit of a rough spot while the actor's representatives and the studio worked out the specific details of Tatum's involvement in the larger X-Men universe outside of the single solo film.
"Fox sees Tatum’s Gambit, a mutant who harnesses kinetic energy, as one of the anchor characters of the X-universe, akin to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, someone who would anchor his own movies and appear in numerous others," THR's Borys Kit explained. "It’s a commitment that could theoretically last more than a decade."
Get ready, folks.