Why a Gambit movie is a bad idea

Contributed by
Jan 4, 2018

Gambit is a character who, on first glance, might not make much sense. He's supposed to be an agile cat thief, yet prominent features of his costume include metal boots, a bright pink chest plate, and a cumbersome trench coat. But Gambit also speaks in a headache-inducing phonetically written accent, is defined by his incredibly tiresome “dark, mysterious past,” is a jerk to Rogue, and is the co-star of some of the most uncomfortable fan fiction “this side 'o the Mississippi, sugah!” Okay, so Gambit is a character who upon all of the glances might not make much sense. Also not-sense-making is his sort of popularity, which has led to him being featured in more solo series than pretty much any X-character except for Wolverine.

Since around 2014 or so, Marvel has been dropping hints of a possible Gambit movie starring Channing Tatum. This idea has been much maligned by comic fans, who are annoyed that Tatum is clearly miscast as Gambit (true), or that Gambit isn't strong enough a character to sustain a film (also true). However, the actual reason not to make a Gambit movie is: GAMBIT IS A TOTAL CREEP!

The history of Gambit is mired in mystery and something that's like intrigue, but not really. We discover that baby Remy LeBeau was abandoned by his mother because of his creepy red eyes, and then was stolen by the Thieves Guild -- who are, without question, one of the most bizarre takes on the criminal underbelly of Louisiana in all of fiction. They wear a lot of neon and their whole point is in their name, but they're all tiny Remy LeBeau had. He trained to become a master thief, or “t'ief,” if you want to be real about it. There's some age-old indecipherable drama between the Thieves Guild and another crew known as the Assassins Guild. Guess what they're about? You guessed right: assassin stuff. There's an arranged marriage between Gambit and this lady from the Assassins Guild named Belladonna. It all leads to some kind of conspiracy, someone dies, Gambit flees, Belladonna is left on her wedding night -- and, as a result, gets so mad about it that hating Gambit remains to this day her most defining character trait. (To which I can relate.)

Oh, but wait, there's more. Remy travels the world stealing stuff. He gets at least one of his girlfriends killed (Belladonna, girl, you dodged a bullet, quite literally). Later, he requests that the villain Mr. Sinister remove part of his brain so that he might be able to better control his mutant powers. This deal proves to be most sinister (get it?), because then Gambit does some shady job in return that leads to the actual mass murder of a crew of mutants that live in the sewers beneath New York. Anyway, Gambit basically caused a lot of death everywhere he went during his early 20s. (For context: The worst thing I did in my early 20s was get so tipsy that I said “I love you” to someone I didn't even like at a party.)

What else was there left to do but join the X-Men? Gambit, who up until this point in his life had made only bad choices, finally made a good one and fell in love with Rogue -- because who wouldn't? For anyone who isn't familiar, Rogue also had a “dark, shady past,” but had joined the team years before and had since become an X-Man in good standing -- unlike Gambit, who sort of never becomes an anything in good standing. Rogue's mutant powers operate through touch. She absorbs memories, character traits, and powers from the people she touches. She has to wear a full body suit most of the time and be careful not to make contact with anyone lest she put them in a coma or kill them. On the other hand, most of Gambit's sentences are about him trying to have sex with every woman in his vicinity. Can it last?

After Rogue kisses Gambit and absorbs a bunch of his weird shady guy memories, their relationship hits the rocks. She starts up a friendship with Joseph, a clone of the X-Men's greatest villain, Magneto. Gambit acts like a possessive jerk and gets into a lot of fights with Joseph. It's not that fun to witness. For whatever reason, Rogue is charmed back into his good graces, and they finally have a night together on some alien planet when her powers are negated. However, everyone finally finds out that Gambit used to work for Mr. Sinister, and that Gambit himself had a hand in causing all kinds of murder and mayhem for the X-Men, so Rogue ditches him in Antarctica. I'm not exaggerating, that actually happens. Girlfriend has had enough, and who could blame her? Eventually, he and Rogue both lose their powers and move in together, their relationship gets tedious, and they break up. Then they get back together. Then they break up again.

Gambit shows up at the doorstep of Apocalypse and volunteers for servitude. I'm not exaggerating when I say this guy is only bad choices. Apocalypse is, of course, a eugenics-loving (and therefore not surprisingly ineffective) villain, whose hobbies include attempting to bring about human genocide -- not to mention brainwashing X-Men to do his evil bidding. For Gambit, that's all apparently totally chill guy activities, because he goes and volunteers to become “Death,” one of the Horsemen of Apocalypse. This leads to one of the worst redesigns of an already terrible costume in comics history. At one point, he actually attempts to murder Rogue (which is important if you're keeping track of all the reasons Rogue should absolutely not ever date this guy). Later, he goes back to “normal” and gets a job teaching at the Jean Grey School. What is happening? Why does everyone forget all the problems Gambit causes?

It turns out that there is a guy following Gambit around. He's named “the New Sun,” and it's later revealed that he's Gambit from an alternate reality and that he murdered his entire planet by losing control of his powers. Then he goes around murdering all the Gambits of all the universes. Anyway, that story doesn't really tie into anything, except one: it proves that when writers are given the opportunity to tell Gambit stories, this is what we end up with, and two: it proves that all Gambits, in all dimensions, are the worst.

There's more, but we won't even get into the animated series version of Gambit, who is so persistent with flirting with Rogue while they're both in life-or-death situations that I think it's safe to say that he crosses boundaries on a fairly regular basis. For a prime example of how unbelievably messed up Gambit of TAS could be, check out the episode "Obsession" (written by an actual pickup artist), in which Gambit completely loses it because Rogue has a conversation with another guy:

Need I belabor the point? I can say definitively that it is indeed an objectively terrible idea to make a Gambit movie, but because terrible ideas are kind of humanity's thing it will probably still happen. Because this is the case, I will clearly state some options that could be implicated to diffuse my critiques:

1. Gambit's creep factor is only negated when he's really fun and not all boundary-crossing and sleazy. In his first appearance, he shows up assisting a de-aged Storm, and they have a really fun dynamic. Anytime you put Storm and Gambit together it's great (mostly because of Storm, but also because Gambit brings out Storm's playful hijinks side), and they have a really great friend dynamic. You know, you could just make a Storm movie.

2. Don't put Rogue in it. His behavior toward Rogue tends to be on the side of 90% not okay. Here's an idea: You could make a Rogue movie instead!

3. Base him off his appearances in Marjorie Liu's X-23, where he's basically a fun bad influence on everyone, but not in the messed-up way that we usually end up with.

4. Absolutely never, do not, not in a million years, make the movie be about his early years in Louisiana. It's just not right to have that much neon on one screen. The human retina can only take so much. Besides, Belladonna is a character that never seems to be written as anything other than “naive waif” or “shrill harpy.” If you're going to have her in it at all, make her the main character or it's just going to be 12 grating sexist stereotypes all at once.

5. Explore his bisexuality. People really want Gambit to be bisexual. It makes perfect sense for his character. Give the people what they want for once in your lives. It's kind of the only reason to make a Gambit movie.

6. Gambit makes bad choices. Comically bad choices. It's why the mini-series with him and Deadpool was actually delightful: They're both so incredibly bad at choices. If you can make a semi-comedy film with Gambit just being the absolute worst at life, I would actually watch that movie.

7. I don't know, have a woman write and direct it? Please? Gambit probably isn't totally awful, and he's usually about 70% less of a creep when women write him. 

But, seriously, you could just make a movie about Storm instead.