With only one Wolverine movie left, Fox needs a modern mutant. They have Deadpool, but he’s an R-rated antihero and the handsome movie star is going to be wearing a mask most of the time. So it stands to reason that the studio is now looking at Gambit as a viable replacement for Wolverine. Rupert Wyatt’s movie, which stars Channing Tatum as the eponymous mutant, is set to open October 7, 2016, and Showbiz 411 reports that production is beginning this October.
Showbiz 411 also has a casting call, and the majority of the characters are criminals, so it looks like we’re gearing up for an origin story. For those who don’t know, Gambit was raised in the Thief’s Guild, which had a feud with the Assassin’s Guild. I don’t know if the film will break down into that specific conflict, but it’s definitely got a fair share of mobsters and thieves, and I like that. We need superhero movies that don’t have “end-of-the-world” stakes, and Gambit could comfortably exist at that level.
But that doesn’t mean it will be a small-scale picture, at least not where the budget is concerned. The Louisiana Economic Development’s “Fast Lane” website [via Comicbook.com], estimates “that the film will cost $154,975,309, over $111 million of which will be spent in Louisiana and about $30 million of which will go to local employees.” That’s a hefty budget for a film filled with street-level criminals, and it makes me wonder how many other super-powered people are floating around this story. Gambit’s already got himself an effects-friendly power: he charges things with kinetic energy and makes them explode.
Of course, a Gambit movie doesn’t necessarily need to cost an exorbitant amount, but I understand if the studio wants to load up on spectacle and make this character as popular as possible. Keep in mind that he probably won’t have an introduction before his solo movie. X-Men: Apocalypse takes place in 1983, so unless that movie jumps forward in time or if there’s a Gambit cameo waiting in Deadpool (which opens in February), then this is a character and world that’s going to have to win over audiences from the get-go.
Tatum is popular, but he can’t open a blockbuster franchise on his name alone, and even though the character was introduced in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (played by Taylor Kitsch), this may as well be a fresh start. Gambit is a fan favorite among 90s kids, but a successful franchise based on the character is far from a sure thing. As someone who will always have a soft spot for Gambit (because of the 90s X-Men animated series) but acknowledges that he’s kind of a dopey character, I’m very curious to see how this all comes together.