Channing Tatum talks Gambit: Here's where the 'X-Men' movie stands

Tatum recently discussed the hiring of a director for the movie and how the film will be different from other superhero outings. What can a movie about Gambit learn from other 'X-Men' standalone films?

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Channing Tatum attends the premiere for the 2014 film 'Foxcatcher.'

The movie starring Channing Tatum as “X-Men” character Gambit appears to be moving forward.

Tatum recently participated in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) event where fans got the chance to extend inquiries to the actor. According to the Los Angeles Times, Tatum was cast as the “X-Men” character Gambit in 2014. Gambit is a superhero who has power over kinetic energy and who often makes objects he is holding explode towards his opponents. “True Detective” actor Taylor Kitsch took on the role in the movie “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” but the film was not well-regarded critically.

According to the website Cinema Blend, the movie based on Gambit now has a director as well, with Rupert Wyatt of the well-regarded hit “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” now on aboard. Tatum expressed his enthusiasm for the choice in the Reddit AMA session, writing, “We finally found someone that I really do believe wants to make Gambit, it will be the second [‘X-Men’] standalone character. And I just really think because Gambit is not the most popular or the biggest hero, I think there's a really unique opportunity. Marvel's done a lot of great movies that have made a ridiculous amount of money, and it's always good to figure how to change the form.”

As Tatum notes, there haven’t been a lot of stand-alone movies about “X-Men” characters. One about the character Deadpool is scheduled to come to theaters this February, but before now, only popular character Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has been at the center of spin-off films. However, the history of Wolverine’s standalone movies is a troubled one. Neither the 2009 movie centering on the character, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” nor 2013’s “The Wolverine” were well-received by critics. “Origins” currently holds a score of 40 out of 100 on the review aggregator website Metacritic and the second movie has a score of 60

What can someone working on a Gambit movie – or a Deadpool film, for that matter – learn from the Wolverine spin-off movies? A memorable story is one key to success, according to New York Times critic A.O. Scott, who noted that at the end of “Origins,” Wolverine “forgets his origins before the movie devoted to their exposition is even over. It won’t take you much longer.” A movie would need to set itself apart from the recent glut of superhero films, as Tatum himself said. 

Also important? Good action sequences. Monitor film critic Peter Rainer wrote that 2013’s “The Wolverine” has “a first-rate fight atop a bullet train,” while Megan Lehmann of the Hollywood Reporter wrote of the action scenes in the movie, “Each fight propels the narrative along – how’s that for novel?” 

In addition, a standalone film shouldn’t make its hero invincible. Both Rainer and Lehmann praised the decision to take away Wolverine’s powers in the 2013 movie, with Rainer writing that this move “makes him more vulnerable – i.e., interesting” and Lehmann noting that the decision “crucially rais[es] the stakes."

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