Channing Tatum has spoken up and revealed more about why he thinks 20th Century Fox’s Gambit was never made. The Magic Mike actor noted how excited he was to take on the role of one of the more popular X-Men characters, and how one of the most exciting things about the film was its Deadpool–esque tone.
“The studio really didn’t want us to direct it,” Tatum told Variety. “They wanted anybody but us, essentially, because we had never directed anything…they would call [the character] ‘flamboyant’ in his description. I wouldn’t — he was just the coolest person. He could pull anything off,” Tatum continued. “Most superheroes, their outfits are utilitarian. Batman’s got his belt. Gambit’s like, ‘No, this sh*t’s just fly, bro! This sh*t walked down the Paris runway last year.’ He’s just wearing the stuff that’s so dope because he loves fashion.”
Fox had scheduled the standalone Gambit film to release March 13, 2020 but was put on an indefinite hold due to Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox in 2019. After the acquisition was finalized, the film was one of the first to be tossed in the bin. Devastated by the loss of his passion project, Tatum just put the blinders on. “Once Gambit went away, I was so traumatized,” Tatum noted in regards to the mental block he put on nearly all superhero films. “I shut off my Marvel machine. I haven’t been able to see any of the movies. I loved that character. It was just too sad. It was like losing a friend because I was so ready to play him.”
The last time we saw Gambit on-screen was when he was portrayed by Taylor Kitsch in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine (let’s just say that portrayal did not fare well with fans). While Tatum’s potential portrayal as the New Orleans-born mutant had a mixed reaction from fans, Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg was looking forward to seeing a standalone Gambit film post-acquisition.
“I love the idea of Channing [Tatum] playing Gambit,” Kinberg said. “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.”
Director Ruper Wyatt, who was attached to the Gambit project before it was scrapped, revealed in 2019 that the film was put on hold in 2015 because of the poor box office performance of The Fantastic Four. “We were close, I believe 10 weeks away. It simply came down to budget. There was not enough,” Wyatt explained. “You know all too well about the politics of the business. Fantastic Four had been released by Fox a month before and had not gone well for them, so our budget was slashed quite considerably. The inevitable, from my perspective, was, ‘Well then we need to rewrite the script to tailor to our budget,’ but we were too close to a start date for Fox to really want to go there, so, unfortunately, it just didn’t work out.”
While Tatum’s passion project is very much in Disney’s rear view, there’s still a possibility that we could see Gambit in future Marvel films. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will not only introduce Professor Charles Xavier into the MCU for the first time, but that very introduction brings us that much closer to the integration of the X-Men as a whole group into the MCU—including Gambit.
Photos via Marvel, Brian Bowen Smith/Variety