A Gambit movie was always this weird thing. You had a character who had only been in one movie before–X-Men Origins: Wolverine–and now they wanted to give him his own movie with Channing Tatum on board to star. The film cycled through multiple directors including Rupert Wyatt, Doug Liman, and Gore Verbinski, but no one stuck around to get the project off the ground even though there were times when Gambit appeared deep into pre-production. And now it’s dead.
The film was previously slated for March 13, 2020, which was never entirely realistic with the Disney merger on the horizon and no director attached. Now Disney has sent out a slew of release date changes and announcements. Among the announcements is that Gambit has been removed from the schedule, which should just about be the final nail in the coffin for the X-Men spinoff.
As someone who was a big Gambit fan when I was a kid (he was a main character on the 90s animated X-Men TV series that I loved), I can’t help but be a little bummed that his movie is dead. As an adult, I completely understand, and I fully concede all the ways Gambit is a bad character who doesn’t deserve his own movie, especially when you have richer X-Men characters floating around like Storm and Nightcrawler.
Of course, the larger problem has nothing to do with Gambit and everything to do with Marvel Studios. The New Mutants has been kicked down the road, but that’s a movie that was already greenlit and shot (although who knows what kind of further reshoots it might require if Disney is set on releasing it). A movie like Gambit isn’t the way Marvel Studios wants to kick off its X-Men properties, especially because mutants are a tricky proposition in the MCU (if you have thousands of superpowered people running around, their absence becomes noticeable).
Disney also dropped all untitled Fox-Marvel movies from the schedule because obviously those are never going to happen now, or at least as vague ideas like X-23. I’m sure another Deadpool is probably coming down the line, but no need to keep it on the schedule as an untitled Fox-Marvel property. Better to let Marvel Studios figure out how to they want to slot it into everything.
Perhaps Gambit was never a real possibility. Yes, everyone was chasing down superhero properties, but Gambit was never a slam dunk in the way it needed to be. Perhaps quietly shutting it down is the most dignified exit for this property.