Why Leaving ‘Gambit’ Is a Bad Move For Channing Tatum

Tommaso Boddi / Getty Images

Source: Tommaso Boddi / Getty Images

 

In the realm of superhero movies, you’d be hard-pressed to find an A-lister not in the mix for a major role. Chris Pratt found his way into Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Ben Afleck is the newest Batman, Scarlett Johansson has been Black Widow since Iron Man 2, and even Benedict Cumberbatch is getting into the mix with the upcoming Doctor Strange movie. Over at 20th Century Fox, a similar strategy has been employed for their X-Men franchise.

Within that universe, we’ve seen Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Peter Dinklage, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Holt, and plenty more. The train will only keep moving into the near future too, with X-Men: Apocalypse releasing in May of next year. Later in 2016 though, is an installment in the franchise that’s been a long time coming, in the Channing Tatum-led Gambit. Recent rumors though have led to some speculation as to whether the project will even come to fruition.

According to a scoop from The Wrap, there’s been talk of Tatum leaving Gambit for reasons currently unbeknownst to anyone. It’s baffling news for a couple of reasons: First off, the film until now, largely has been a passion project for the 21 Jump Street star. Secondly, Tatum is credited as one of the movie’s producers. If he does indeed end up walking, it would leave 21st Century Fox in a huge lurch, with Gambit slated to release in almost a year’s time, now without anyone to play the titular hero. All this begs the question: Why would anyone turn down this role? Marvel Studios has a history of being difficult with creative types looking to express themselves, but Fox (for better or worse) has pretty much given their directors and producers carte blanche when it comes to X-Men. 

Tatum abandoning Gambit poses a massive problem for both him and the studio. For Fox, they lose one of Hollywood’s biggest stars heading up a movie that has the potential to be huge. On Channing Tatum’s end, he’ll be walking away from the chance to cash in on the superhero craze as a character regarded in many circles as the most popular of the X-Men this side of Wolverine. He certainly doesn’t need the film to maintain his star power, but at the same time, it’s a juicy role for a project that he himself has wanted to do for years now.

Even the largely disappointing Wolverine: Origins that first featured Gambit on screen (played by Taylor Kitsch) made $370 million worldwide on a $150 million budget. Imagine what a Gambit-centric feature that isn’t terrible would do at the box office. If it all falls apart though, Tatum loses his opportunity to assume an iconic role, while 20th Century Fox stands to lose a whole lot of money. They’ll of course do everything they can to recast Gambit if it becomes necessary, but anyone they choose will have some enormous shoes to fill in the wake of Tatum’s exit.

The future of the X-Men franchise is murky past Apocalypse and Gambit. Bryan Singer’s last turn as director will come with the former, and there are no current plans past the latter (Deadpool excepted). A Channing Tatum-led movie is a great way to reinvigorate a franchise that could soon find itself on its last legs, doing the same thing that Wolverine did for Hugh Jackman’s already stellar career. For now, all we can do is wait and see how things develop: Will Gambit be left without its biggest draw? Or will Fox conjure a miracle and salvage the wreckage?

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest

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