Remember when Channing Tatum playing Gambit in a film featuring the Cajun mutant was a hot topic? That was two years ago at San Diego Comic-Con.
Since then, initially attached director Rupert Wyatt left for scheduling conflicts, second-choice Doug Liman shifted to adapt the Chaos Walking books, and solo X-Men films like Deadpool and Logan have given studios some serious food for thought, opening the doors beyond the broader PG-13 rating to tell some different types of stories.
Deadpool’s foul language and gross humor were appropriate for that character, and Logan’s tone finally matched the savagery needed to send Wolverine off in a big way. Could that work for Gambit, too? While promoting the upcoming summer sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle, star Tatum was asked by Yahoo Movies when we can expect to see that Gambit feature film. He responded that he wonders the same thing because it appears that they are circling the runway:
“We got really lucky. We had a first draft. It was good,” he said hesitantly knowing there was room for improvement, “but we were coming to the end at that creative phase, where these movies (X-Men films) went through a bit of a paradigm shift, where the X-Men movies and the superhero movies with Logan and Deadpool really broke down a lot of doors for us. We were trying to do some things that we actually weren’t allowed to do, and they just smashed through the doors, so now we’re rethinking it.”
Now, if you think that means the reaction is to go to the R rating, Tatum was quick to respond and say:
“I don’t know yet. We’re not quite going there because I enjoyed Gambit as a kid so I don’t want to rule out PG-13. Some of the things we want to do is a little-bit R, but we’re not sure if it merits a full-on R yet.”
Neither Gambit's weapons nor his powers warrant a hard-R rating on paper. With a retractable bo staff and the ability to accurately throw objects that are charged by Gambit's mutant ability to channel kinetic energy, he can turn the simplest things (like playing cards) into explosive projectiles. Great agility and speed are other skills at Gambit's disposal.
Now his trade as a thief, and his relationship with fellow southerner mutant Rogue, should be elements considered for this film, but nothing stands out as earning the R rating outside of potential language. It is encouraging to hear them pause and take the best suited attempt versus leaping without a net.
The bottom line is not what Gambit is rated in the end. If they don’t have the tone and script that are appropriate for the character and his story, then it will flop. The X-Men films have always been willing to take a harder edge than the Marvel MCU to varying degrees of success and disappointment, but what Logan did especially was flawless execution of the more mature themes, a grim tone, and violence, while telling an engaging story.
Principal photography for Gambit was originally slated for early 2015, then moved to early 2017. Without a director and a finalized script, changes appear to be the one constant — and that makes its release date still very far away.