Coming off of the critical success of Edge of Tomorrow, filmmaker Doug Liman started looking at other high-profile sci-fi-tinged projects. That of course means superhero movies, and indeed he signed on to take the helm of 20th Century Fox’s X-Men spinoff Gambit after original director Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) left. However, though Channing Tatum was attached to star and Lea Seydoux was looking to sign on in the female lead role, the film kept getting delayed due to script issues and Liman eventually departed the project in favor of switching to DC and developing Warner Bros.’ Justice League Dark.
So why did Liman leave Gambit in the first place? Collider’s own Christina Radish spoke with the filmmaker in anticipation of his new film The Wall and asked him why he exited the Marvel Comics adaptation:
“I never formed a connection. Many of these movies, I don’t have the connection on day one, but I find the connection. I just never found it. I don’t always find a connection. I want to make a movie that, if anybody else made it, it would be different. When I went to make Swingers, I showed the script to a friend of mine, and she said, ‘Why would you want to make this movie? The Trent character’ – who was played by Vince Vaughn – ‘is totally unlikeable.’ I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I love Trent! That’s the reason I’m making this movie!’ She was like, ‘You’re crazy! He’s totally unlikeable!’ And then, I made the movie and she saw the movie, and she was like, ‘You’re right, he is likeable.’ And then, I went to make Go and I showed the script to the same friend, and she said, ‘I don’t know why you’d make this movie. Nobody in this film is likeable!’ Right in that moment, it clicked. I was like, ‘I get it! I need to make Go, for the same reason that I needed to make Swingers. Somebody else making Swingers might have made Vince Vaughn’s character into an asshole and been judgmental about him.’ My specific take on that character is what the audience then took away, so I knew that I needed to make Go because my version of Go celebrated those characters instead of being judgmental of them. I knew that everybody would like those characters because I liked them.”
Liman says the experience on Go was formative, and is part of what ultimately drove him away from Gambit:
“Ever since Go, I’ve looked for that personal connection where, because of the experiences I’ve had in life, if I tell this story, it will be fundamentally different than if any other director tells it, even if the experience I’m talking about is the previous movie I’ve made. My version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith would be fundamentally different than any other director’s version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith because I just made The Bourne Identity. I made a movie that celebrated someone being an action hero, and no one else is going to have had that experience, going into Mr. & Mrs. Smith, to then reject it and choose to embrace the exact opposite. That’s part of what didn’t click for me on Gambit, in finding that unique way in.”
The 20th Century Fox project is still in development, but the studio looks to have forged ahead with other X-Men films in the meantime. As for Liman, he’s got Justice League Dark and Edge of Tomorrow 2 in the works, along with a few other projects, so he’s certainly not at a loss for material.
Look for our full interview with Liman on Collider soon, and click here for his comments on Justice League Dark.