Back in January, uber producer Lauren Schuler Donner said she wanted Channing Tatum for a movie about everyone’s favorite card-flinging Cajun X-Man. Now Tatum has confirmed (while blazing trails for MTV) that he’s taken a meeting about it and is definitely interested. Something we’ve all known since he auditioned for a part in X-Men: The Last Stand. So it goes.
If a million things line up correctly, Channing Tatum playing Gambit might be our future.
The thing is, of course, that if a movie is an adult who can vote, this is the movie news equivalent of hearing two people fucking through your hotel wall. But grains of salt aside, it offers us an interesting opportunity to look at what went wrong with the first live-action Gambit and how a solo film with the character might be a much-needed antidote for comic book movie fatigue.
The strikes against the Gambit of X-Men Origins: Wolverine were simple:
- He was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
- He was used essentially to be mysterious, help out a little, then disappear so that Roid Rage Ryan Reynolds (action figure coming soon) could fight Wolverine.
- The problems were amplified by his status as a character who deserves his own solo movie being relegated to cameo+.
- Also amplified by him being the 4th most shoe-horned thing into the movie. It was a crowded field.
- Putting him next to Wolverine (without a group) is a little like doubling the onions in a recipe (onions being the most devil-may-care of the bulb vegetables). Foils they are not.
If Fox were to make a movie focused on Gambit, it would effectively give them a license to make X-Men Origins: Bad Lieutenant.
Here’s where we get into the territory of comic book salvation. Much like Captain America: The Winter Soldier worked as a spy thriller/slight reprieve from the standard spandex storyline, and just as The Wolverine worked as a thoughtful contemplation on heroism and post-war regret (while running from bad guys), Gambit could work as a movie about warring gangs, or even more simply as a thief-made-good adventure. The bottom line being that he’s a different enough character to produce a different kind of superhero movie.
But you just know he’ll be facing a mech-suited villain who throws flames out of his face in a shoddy third act, anyway.
Cynicism aside (and it had to be gotten out of the way), there’s a crazy amount of potential here. Cool as hell character; an actor who is at this moment embraced by mainstream audiences, geeky 21 Jump Street converts and people who want to embrace him; and a concrete starting point that puts it on track to set itself apart from the superhero noise (while benefiting from the cresting superhero wave).
To say that Channing Tatum starring in Gambit is in its nascent stage would be hyperbole, but it’s the kind of potential energy I want to see go kinetic.