Whatever else you might want to say about actor Channing Tatum, you have to at least give this to him: The man goes after he wants with the vigor and passion of the X-Men’s favorite staff-wielding rapscallion. In his audition for the role of Gambit, card-throwing mutant and unfortunate Cajun stereotype, Tatum came loaded for bear in full costume, determined to snatch the part faster than you can say, “Clear product of the 1990s.” Already confirmed for an appearance as Gambit in X-Men: Apocalypse, Tatum’s dream of a Gambit solo film is moving forward, with more key pieces of the X-puzzle falling into place, including snagging a high-profile writer.
According to ComingSoon.net, co-writer of the Robocop remake Josh Zetumer wasn’t tarred and feathered for his role in rebooting one the 1980s most beloved sci-fi movies, as he has been tapped to pen the Gambit film, based on work by Gambit creator and legendary X-Men scribe Chris Claremont. Presumably hitting theaters sometime after the release of 2016’s Apocalypse, the X-spinoff will be produced by Tatum and Reid Carolin, the star’s Free Association partner, along with Simon Kinberg, who has been involved with other X-movies, and Lauren Donner of the Donner Company.
Look, I can see you rolling your eyes when you read that anyone involved with the Robocop reboot is involved with a Gambit film. Judging from the chatter on the Interwebs, a whole host of folks aren’t happy—to be generous—with Tatum’s involvement with the project, and Zetumer’s selection as screenwriter might be the moldy cherry on what you see as a crap sundae. I get it. However, and I say this as a huge fan of Paul Verhoeven’s original Robocop film, I thought the remake was a pretty serviceable entry. It drew from the source material without outright copying it. Did it surpass the sci-fi/action/satire mash-up of the original? Not at all. But I don’t think that made it a poor film, necessarily, but a movie that fulfilled a very specific purpose: an action romp that also drew in nostalgic fans of the 1987 film. They call it show business for a reason and I’m fine with that.
That said, do I think that Tatum and Zetumer can make a Gambit movie worth watching? It’s a crapshoot, really. Like I’ve said before, I am one of ten people who actually thinks that Tatum is an actor who keeps growing with every role he tackles, even if I fear he may not have the ability to capture every nuance (I say lightly and with only a tiniest bit of irony) needed to portray the New Orleans mutant hero. Regardless, though, and I say this not just in reference to this film, but to the tidal wave of superhero films that are coming our way: It’s an exciting time to be a comic book fan, so maybe we should just be happy that we’re getting any of these films at all. I mean, seriously, did you ever think that we would be discussing the possibility of a Gambit solo film hitting theaters in the foreseeable future? Remember 15 years ago when it seemed like a Spider-Man film, starring one of Marvel’s flagship heroes, would never be made? And we’re griping about casting choices for an X-Men spinoff starring a B-tier character, at best? Let’s maybe all just take a breath.
X-Men: Apocalypse hits theaters May 18, 2016.