Next year is going to bring a lot of big changes to the X-Men franchise. For the most part this strikes me as being for the best; the X-Men franchise has been more or less running in place since X2 with a major emphasis on the less. Despite this series lasting for well over a decade the visual emphasis is still on black leather plastic, Wolverine is still king of the party, and the X-Men’s whole existence is still solely defined by fighting to protect a populous that hates them. It bugs me because so much of that is just the drabbest iteration of these characters. Hence why I’m really welcoming the changes that will come with X-Men: Apocalypse. The costumes are imaginative and vibrant, the conflict vast and not just rehashing previous tensions, and it marks the beginning of the end for Wolverine’s role in the franchise. However, with the series most recognizable actor and character finally bowing out of the spotlight Fox needs a new face for the franchise going forward. That’s where Channing Tatum’s Gambit comes in.
So far, aside from that no one has really known what to expect from Channing Tatum’s Gambit. It’s obvious Fox wants this to be a touchstone for the X-Men going forward as it will be the first film in the wake of X-Men: Apocalypse’s major recasting and continuity reboot but otherwise we’ve been fairly in the dark. However, over the weekend the first details about the film have started to slip through in the form of a casting break down. So far none of these characters seem to be drawn from the expansive X-Men canon or even the weird collection of mythos behind Gambit’s character. The big take away from the list is more about the film’s prospective genre. It looks like Fox is shooting to make something in the vein of a crime or heist movie first and foremost as a lot of the character descriptions fall into the style of con-artists, thieves, and other sundry criminals. The only exception is a mysterious Louis who’s described as an appealingly elegant but secretly dark entrepreneur just in case you were wondering who the film’s villain was going to be.
This isn’t that surprising of a development. We’ve been living in a post-Marvel world for a while now and that is the most true of Fox. After all it was Avengers massive success that convinced Fox to do such a major cash infusion for the team-up event of Days of Future Past so Fox trying to follow up on the Marvel promise of cross-genre superhero stuff is a logical next move. The casting break down does make it seem like this will be more of a serious film than an action comedy but I hope that’s not the case. Channing Tatum has proven himself a strong dramatic actor in stuff like Fox Catcher but overall it’s clear his strengths remain grounded in comedy work more than anything else. What’s more it’s hard to imagine how a movie about a Cajun superhero thief with an outrageous accent and the power to make playing cards explode could be done in a serious manner.
Still, as I said, it’s early days yet with a lot of time for tone and story to shift over the coming months. This is especially true given how convoluted and non-adaptation friendly Gambit’s mystic thief back-story is in the comics. His origins and solo material is generally so unwieldy that’s almost a given that the creators will have to whip up a whole new mythos for the films. It’s a broad canvas to paint on given the film will also stand as the first major piece of continuity post-Apocalypse but going in a stripped down, small scale crime direction seems like a good call. And at the very least it’ll probably be better than Taylor Kitsch’s version of the character from Wolverine Origins.