'Gambit' Inches Closer to Becoming a Reality

Gambit

Producer Simon Kinberg is determined to keep the perpetual rumor that is the Gambit movie alive.

No, seriously, this Gambit movie is a thing. Forget the impending merger between Disney and 20th Century Fox. Forget the two previous directors that fled for the hills. Forget the fact that we were originally promised this film more than two years ago. Channing Tatum will one day fling kinetically charged playing cards at a theater audience strapped with 3D glasses. At least, that’s what producer Simon Kinberg is eager for us to believe.

Variety captured Kinberg on the red carpet at the Deadpool 2 premiere. He told them that they finally have a script that they love, and he’s been meeting with a variety of potential directors. He expects they will make their choice in the next couple of weeks and Tatum’s mutant cajun will be in front of cameras by the end of the summer.

With Rupert Wyatt and Gore Verbinski bailing over those prevalent and pesky “creative differences,” the idea here is that the third time will be the charm. What is so tricky about getting Gambit on the big screen? Kinberg theorized that these X-films simply don’t align with many filmmakers’ points of view:

“I think the truth is when you have these movies that need a very special and unique tone, it takes a little while to find that tone. ‘Deadpool’ feels like it exploded out of nowhere, but it was a 10-year development process on that movie. I think it was honed over those 10 years.”

A very special and unique tone? I mean, ok, yeah, Deadpool is a sticky wicket of a flick. That took some serious gumption to embrace the profane “Merc with a Mouth” as well as his Ferris Bueller’s Day Off style fourth-wall smashing. Building a world around that madness would certainly take any studio some significant time to organize mentally.

What is so hard to understand about Gambit? The ’90s-era superhero was a not-so-subtle attempt on Marvel’s part to recreate the bad boy appeal of Wolverine. Thanks to an extreme design courtesy of Jim Lee, Gambit caught hold of the fanboys’ imaginations hungry for characters to kick ass first and take names second. His ability to transform ordinary objects (but especially playing cards) into kinetically suffused bombs was just weird enough to be memorable. Once he took prominence in the animated series with his “Mon Amis” and “Mon Cheris,” the character cemented his status in the pop culture landscape.

Looking back, Gambit is a painfully dated character whose popularity has faded. I’m not sure anyone besides Kinberg and Tatum is screaming for a solo movie. When Gore Verbinski was involved, my curiosity was piqued. There is a visual stylist who could have contributed a unique vibe to the usual blah-looking X-franchise. If Gambit acquires a journeyman director, or a hot-young-thing a la Jon Watts, the producers will maintain their franchise stranglehold. As with Deadpool, that means the success of Gambit will rest solely on its stars’ shoulders.

I believe Simon Kinberg. Gambit will find its way into theaters one day. If they are indeed close to locking down a director, a summer shoot is not inconceivable. At the same time, I’m as sick of hearing about this maybe-movie as you are. Put up, or shut up.

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Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, co-host of the In The Mouth of Dorkness Podcast.