Since it was announced, Fox’s solo Gambit movie has gone through just about every ring of production hell, including scheduling delays, rewrites, and losing its latest director to Justice League Dark. However, in a recent statement to ComicBook.com, X-Men producer Simon Kinberg confirmed that the film is still in “active development” and could be shooting by early 2018.
“It’s a movie that we hope will be ready to go by the end of this year and shoot next year,” said Kinberg. “We have two or three X-Men related movies this year, so it can wait for a moment. The process has been that Channing [Tatum] is as determined about getting the character right as Ryan Reynolds was about Deadpool and Hugh [Jackman] was about this Logan movie. We know that when we get those right, the movie succeeds. So we want to make sure we get Gambit right, because we want him to be the beginning of a whole new franchise.”
The Deadpool comparison is the most flattering spin on the situation, but the patterns really are similar so far. Deadpool also struggled to find a director. It was also delayed, and it also had to schedule its production around Ryan Reynolds’ other obligations. However, when it finally came out, it was a critical and box office success.
If Gambit uses its time wisely, it could be similarly successful–but it’s also dealing with an entirely different sort of character. As Nerdist points out, “You don’t see Gambit merchandise on the level of Wolverine or Deadpool…he’s not a breakout character in the way Marvel (and probably Fox) has always hoped he would be. A successful solo Gambit movie is a huge gamble, and a lot more of its potential success has to do with Channing Tatum’s power to draw in audiences, vs. the draw of the character itself.”
Logan and Deadpool both had to work hard to capture the essence of a well-loved, well-known character. Gambit, on the other hand, needs to find a way to make its less famous character’s traits work with Tatum’s not-insubstantial charms. Personally, I find Tatum can be very funny, and projects like Magic Mike show that he can have a lot of fun as a sex symbol. Both of those are assets for an actor playing Gambit. My biggest question is how well Tatum can capture Gambit’s slyness, or his slicker, less trustworthy side. I’m basically on the same page as the Nerdist, in that I think Fox’s key to success here is crafting an effective vehicle for Tatum’s existing talents. If they play to their star’s strengths in this interpretation, they could still pull this off.
Kinberg’s talk of “franchise[s]” does have me a little worried, though he may have just been hyping the studio’s commitment to the project. This movie is not going to work if they spend half of it setting up sequels or some other nonsense. Given Gambit’s relative profile, they need to spend their screen time helping audiences get to know and love him–not promising audiences more of him before they even know who he is.
But what do you think? Are you worried about this one? Optimistic? Or just meh?
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