Some superhero films face an unobstructed path on their journey to production, while others face numerous obstacles. Gambit falls into the latter category, as it’s been over four years since the project was officially announced, and it’s still in development hell. Captive State’s Rupert Wyatt was the first director hired to helm Gambit, and his version of the movie would have seen the eponymous protagonist, played by Channing Tatum, in New Orleans and involved with other mutants in a mob environment. As he put it:
What I do know is that Channing Tatum and his producing partner Reid Carolin had an amazing idea of what that movie was going to be, and Josh Zeutemer, the writer, as well. It was terrific, it was a really exciting sort of Godfather with mutants set in the world of New Orleans with different gangs.
Rupert Wyatt added that Gambit would have taken place from the 1970s to the present day and been about “the notion of what it means to belong, tribalism in this bayou-like environment” among these mutant gangs. The X-Men film franchise hasn’t been shy about telling stories set in the past, which began with X-Men Origins: Wolverine and has been a mainstay of the “First Class” era main films. The focus on New Orleans’ criminal underworld would also have been fitting given Gambit’s past as a thief in the comics.
You’ll recall that last fall, X-Men franchise producer Simon Kinberg said that Gambit would be a romantic comedy highlighting the character’s hustling and womanizing ways. That doesn’t sound anything like what Rupert Wyatt had planned, although one would imagine that Remy LeBeau would still have had a love interest. Rupert Wyatt also clarified in his interview with Collider that Channing Tatum “sort of worked on the script” to make it into a romantic comedy, and while Wyatt liked what he read, it was “very different” from what he was involved in.
As for why Rupert Wyatt’s Gambit never moved forward, the director claims it’s because the 2015 Fantastic Four reboot was a critical and commercial bomb. With just 10 weeks before Gambit was supposed to begin filming, 20th Century Fox slashed the budget “quite considerably,” leading to the brakes being pumped. Wyatt departed Gambit in September 2015, just three months after he signed on to direct. In the following years, both Doug Liman and Gore Verbinski were separately hired as Gambit’s replacement directors, but both men ultimately left as well, with Liman withdrawing because he didn’t care for the script and Verbinski exiting due to scheduling conflicts.
With only days remaining until the Disney and Fox merger closes, leading to (among many other things) the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties finally residing at Marvel Studios, it’s unclear if Gambit will ever be made. A Channing Tatum-led Gambit movie, whether it’s a mob movie or a romantic comedy, could still work even if the X-Men franchise was rebooted, but it’s possible Marvel and Disney would prefer putting out a more conventional, ensemble X-Men movie first. In any case, considering that the character’s only theatrical appearance so far has been in the critically-derided X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Rupert Wyatt’s Gambit movie sounds like it would have treated him much better.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for any updates concerning Gambit’s future, but for now, look through our 2019 release schedule to learn what movies are opening later this year.