One day in early 2014 Channing Tatum said he would like to play the X-men character Gambit. Next we know in an interview with MTV in April Channing Tatum confirmed he’s met about the star role in a Gambit solo movie. First I’m going to talk about why I was excited when it was first announced.
In his interview he talked about his love for the character and I was completely on board with the idea. I could see him as Gambit, the only reservation being that the Rajin’ Cajun is is built more like say… Nicholas Hoult than macho man Channing Tatum, but that’s a very minor gripe.
The project also showed promise when Tatum suggested it would not slide into the usual third act pitfalls of superhero movies: “It’s always about saving the world, but maybe we’re going to shift things a little but. There’s so many ways you can take [an origin story].” This character would not benefit from the usual save the world trope his comic stories are much more personal and it’s always good to see him in New Orleans.
I think the project will benefit from having Lauren Schuler Donner, who also has an affinity for the character, as a producer alongside Simon Kinberg who is working on an MCU like universe for X-men.
A Chris Claremont treatment is promising but it was turned into a script by Robocop writer Josh Zetumer who turned a clever, violent, satire, into a 12A big, loud, action flick.
This is where the project first came up stump when it was trying to attract it’s first director. Umberto Gonzales reported that Tatum was approaching some big names; Darren Aronofsky and Bennett Miller. ScreenCrush also reported that J.C. Chandor and Gareth Evans (my favourite) had passed on the job. He had the right idea in who he was approaching. My worry is that these are smart directors who possibly read the script and saw it had X-Men Origins: Wolverine career ruin written all over it.
The most bizarre news that hit about the movie was when Gambit himself left the Gambit project. The Hollywood Reporter said that it was a disagreement on fees and it’s possible he was just negotiating through the press as it was not long until a deal was agreed. Still, it’s not promising when an actor leaves his own vanity/passion project. As an admirer of the character, it’s safe to assume Channing Tatum has an understanding of the character. I can’t help but think he was disappointed with the script handed in.
20th Century Fox does not have a good track record with their superhero films. Gavin Hood had the studio chief overriding his decisions in order to give it a lighter tone, Mathew Vaughn was reportedly rushed on X-men: First Class and we will all struggle to forget about Josh Trank’s feelings to what they did to Fant4stic. I don’t know who was to blame for Fant4stic but it should never have seen the light of day.
This is why Rupert Wyatt left the project. I immediately saw through the thinly veiled scheduling conflict excuse of mid-September, Wyatt said: “I was very much looking forward to working with my friend Channing and the team at Fox, but regrettably a push in the start date now conflicts with another project.” By the end of September The Hollywood Reporter gave an account from a “top exec who has worked with Wyatt” who was reported as saying; “I think he’s a very principled guy. He wants to make the best version of something, and he’s so desperately afraid of making something not good that it’s easier to walk away than be pushed by committee.”
After having some distance from the initial announcement I question the integrity of projects that have their inception with actors saying I’d like to be in this role. Thankfully the most recent news about the project is that Edge of Tomorrow and Bourne Identity director Doug Liman is at the helm of the project.