Will we ever see a good version of the X-Man Gambit in a Marvel movie?

There has been very little movie love for the X-Man Gambit. The question is why has this character not been given a fair movie shake?

First a little background…

As hard as it is to believe, Gambit has been around for over two decades. Gambit was created by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee in 1990 as a crappy sort of anti-hero for Uncanny X-men. The comic book version represents almost everything that was wrong with characters at Marvel in the 90s. Gambit has been everything from a thief to a dark avenger character. The only consistency is that he has never been any one thing for more than a short time. Enough background, let’s move on to some of the issues with the character, both in the comics and film.

He has a costume that is clearly a Lee creation. It is over rendered and not very interesting while, at the same time, it is full of visual “things” that don’t do anything. All those stupid lines on his chest and the huge amount of mousse that he appears to use would be good examples of the Lee excess. While not as over-designed as some (Cable or Shatterstar instantly spring, unbidden, to mind) it will never be considered classic or iconic. Visually, he is a rip off of homage to many different looks and characters. The gimmick of the playing cards got old almost immediately. Every comic character since Bullseye that has been seen even PLAYING cards on panel, has looked ridiculous.  With Gambit ridiculous visuals seem to be the norm.

Like all Jim Lee characters, I have hair issues.

The defining trait of his existence was unspecified angst for most of the early years, and when they expanded on his origins, it seemed ludicrous and unbelievable. All that would be missing today is sparkly skin. While he is consistently popular in fan polls, this has not translated into a decent or substantial role in a live action film. Before you accuse me of being a Gambit hater, I’m not. He rubbed me the wrong way at first (more on that below), but I eventually found that he was tolerable. Fortunately for me, the X-Books became unreadable shortly after Claremont ended his run, so I stopped caring about any of them.

There is one slightly delicate issue with Gambit’s characterization in the comics: he comes off as a bit, shall we say, “less than masculine”.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

I don’t mean to imply anything negative, it is just that the whole ‘sullen and angst ridden’ thing plays as whiny and bitchy more than manly.

That stupid Cajun accent is a problem too. Accents in text have always been hard to pull off and to Claremont’s credit; he is one of the few in the industry that can usually manage it. However, it still didn’t work all that well in the comics and when they moved this to film, they dumped it in favor of a more relaxed and general southern drawl. In doing that, the film’s portrayal of him was more “cranky idiot” than “dark loner”.

Gambit’s origin is a mess even by Marvel standards. Once Claremont was forced off left the X-Books in 1991 Gambit, and most of the X-Men for that matter, went completely off the rails. Every writer that has tried to use Gambit changed the premise or back story of the character, making the current version something of a jumble. Even Wolverine’s back story is not this buggered up. Attempting to move him over to a film means gutting the back-story like a fish, which will always piss off at least half of the fans. Any attempt will have to re-create a story that flows naturally and gives a plausible sense of history for his character.

Marvel finally got around to using Gambit in a movie but unfortunately Wolverine Origins is a jumbled mess as well. Fox’s X-Franchise has never been all that faithful to the source material and at times this is a good thing. In the case of Origins, it seems like Fox just decided to make a film and used character names on whichever characters were vaguely similar to the ones from the books.

His superpowers are now depression and eating Cheetos.

In the movie Gambit’s character is really  ‘Gambit’ in name only and is based on a loose interpretation of his powers. For example, the fans were particularly irked by the eyes being red only when he used his powers rather than all the time as in the books.

In both the comics and the movie, a mistake was made in making Gambit out to be an antagonist to Wolverine. This had the effect of potentially limiting his usefulness for other media. I can just hear the meeting in the editor’s office on that one. “Let’s have him and the singular most popular character we have dislike each other. That has NEVER backfired!”

Unless you are this chick!

Another issue of trying to place the book character into the movie world is his (kind of creepy) moves on Rogue. In the book, his advances made every delusional fan boy (most of us) dislike him. He got really pushy after a while, and that pushed Rogue away even more. The more she resisted, the creepier it got. Gambit’s slimy moves added new meaning to the phrase “no means no!” This is a major issue because, unfortunately, Gambit is defined in the comic largely by this relationship with Rogue. The only interesting development the character has gone through is linked directly to that liaison.  Remove that relationship for a movie, as they did, and Gambit becomes just another character with no purpose.

Stepping away from the movie and book issues, the cartoon factor is another subject to contend with. The 90’s X-Men cartoon was a huge hit, and for whatever reason, Gambit is very fondly remembered. Perhaps this fondness has lent to his popularity in the comics, but that popularity comes at a price. Fans are slow to accept any changes in what they perceive as a character concept. Going from animation to live action in Origins needed to be done well to be accepted. That did not happen, and Hollywood rarely goes to the same well again once they realize the water is urine.

Ghost Rider
…And THIS movie is why!

Is there a chance that we may see Gambit again in a Marvel film? I can’t say it is likely. Unless Hollywood completely ignores his only appearance to date, or Fox lets the rights lapse back to Marvel, I really do not see it happening. I also cannot see the fans caring that much one way or the other.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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35 Comments

  1. OhBless
    0

    LOVE THIS! Great summery and conclusion. I still think we will see a good Gambit film in a few years but who knows, Ghostrider pretty muched killed it lol

  2. This is a VERY good article! Thank you for the analyses!

  3. i like this and this person is right the only reason in my opion people like Gambit is because of Rogue without her hes eh.

  4. For reasons unknown to me Gambit is my favourite X-Men character, (along with Rogue) but i can see why other people may not like or understand him. I have to say that although i may not agree with everything you have written, it is a good article but I hope the filmmakers manage to work him out and create an origins film with him in.

    • Taylor Ramsey

      My biggest issue with the G is that he has never been written well without Rogue. Tell an actual Gambit story that is decent and I’m there.

      • What about the 4 issue run with gambit going home for the tithe. Rogue is basically in the background with the rest of the x-men. Great story. Methinks you just don’t like gambit….despite your claims to the contrary. You can’t say you hate every aspect of a charachter but say you don’t hate them…

        • Taylor Ramsey

          Not true. Well written, Gambit is a decent character with some potential, but since the only writer with a good take on the character stopped writing him when he was pushed off the book, we will not get much from him. Much like other characters that just don’t work well once a particular writer stops working on the book. The ‘drain on the ticket’ is Rouge. She is more interesting on the surface and takes away from the more interesting character by her presence. Bottom line truth for me, the X-Men and related books have not been well written by anyone other than Joss W since Claremont left. Although, I really have liked Bendis’ take in All-New X-Men! Outstanding books so far…

          • Timothy
            0

            I agree that the problem regarding Gambit is a failure of writing. Gambit is a complex character with a complex past both in the comic and in his creation. He was created as a snub and became an enduring figure. Chris Claremont and Howard Mackie were the only two artists able to do anything with him. Since then it has been a complete mess. I hated his characterization in origins and was disturbed by his own series: all three of them. Only the first mini series showed what kind of character he was and that is a shame. I’m about ready to write the damn story myself to see a decent Gambit interpretation! He’s the only reason I read the X-Men comics up until Joey Q killed the X-Men with his “ideas”. But I would love to see a really well written Gambit movie or even story. It’s been too long since he’s been portrayed well.

      • Lance Siders
        0

        Gambits first series run in 90s was awesome man u need to not just go off cartoons there really off and gambit has been dumbed down because everyone’s a wolvie fan which is retarded. I feel u should of done more research before article. There are a lot of gambit fans intact so many fox and donner even Saud they didn’t know when to out him in because they were scared they wouldn’t do him justice which they really messed up . Those movies are horrible and seem that everything goes thru wolvie even new days of future past which wolvie never went bk it was kitty pride. Gambits story when he was the witness sick. Again seems you know nothing of one of the greatest xman and at full potential was the strongest as he was pure energy. But not ur fault you know nothing about comics so it would seem. I suggest read some online or catch up. Gambits story is awesome even when he became death was sick.

  5. What is your view on the new comic book based on Gambit that came out in 2012. That has nothing to do with Rogue.

  6. Is this article about Gambit or the relationship dynamics of Gambit and Rogue. If you want Rogue in it so much then their should be a Rogue/Gambit:Origins. If not there should be a Rogue movie and a Gambit movie. The two characters dont necessarily require each other for a movie to be successful. And if people dont like Gambit without Rogue, then just make a Rogue movie. Also, I dont see having a “good” Gambit movie with articles such as this one on the internet. If people dont understand Gambit then its prolly better to not have a movie because its a lot easier to be misunderstood than to try and have to explain a characters nature to people that just dont understand him anyhow.

  7. Michael Buchanan

    So glad someone recognizes the absence of Gambit! Lets be honest though Origins as a whole isn’t even worth mentioning, the whole movie is a joke. The 90’s animated series is probably the best portrayal of Gambit outwith comics in my opinion, I remember literally just wanting to walk out the cinema when I saw him appear on screen in origins. If I am honest there is so much about the whole x-men movie franchise that I am not happy with… I’d like to think true X-men fans care but will our voices ever be heard by Fox? I doubt it

  8. Amanda Gostomski

    I had a huge crush on Gambit as a little girl, lots of nostalgia. But a rewatch of the animated series, and now as an adult, Gambit is really rapey.

  9. Nathan Wolf
    0

    The modern Gambit ongoing series is actually quite well done and could be used as a jumping off point for any kind of movie. I urge you to check it out, since it’s devoid of the X-men; most mutants, major bad guys and ROGUE is really only a side note. Even his unconventional costume is mostly absent. The story instead focuses on his need to be a thief. I got tired of the schizoid approach to dealing with Gambit in the comics, but this book got me back into him.

  10. Lazarus
    0

    Who gives a toss about Rogue. She is by far the least interesting character in the Xmen franchise and the actress who portrays her is almost as dull. I for one liked Gambit and the fact he can put Wolverine on his ass, is pretty awesome. A Gambit film could be pretty cool. They should also create a Deadpool or or Spectre movie.

    Lazarus

  11. Wow you really do come off as a gambit hater. I dont read comic books but I remember loving the cartoon as a kid. And gambit was always my favored character. I found this tread just cuz I seen a old re run of the show and wanted to know what happen to him. All I know is I loved every thing about him his back story, his “stupid costume” (as u say) I mean a cool trench coat and that haft mask thing he wears. You called the playing cards thing a “gimmick” but I have always been a big poker player and I think that’s why I first started liking him. and now that poker is a so big now. I think his powers who catch people eye even more. All the poker rooms I am in guys tend to think the same thing. And his Cajun accent is like the best part about him all his mo na me, he throw out is so dam cool. I see your point that it is hard to do in comics but it sound so great when done right. and the fact that he always walks the line of being good and bad is great too. Like I said I haven’t read a comic in over 15 years so I know I don’t know anything. Bit I just remember how cool and suave and more of a lady’s man,playa type he was. He never came off as ” creepy” to me at all. But I will trust your guys opinion they carry a lot more weight then mine. and they should you sound like you are up to date. but there is tons of guys like me in there mid 30’s 40’s who just love the cartoon version of him. (the 90’s where great lol) and I do hope to see that guy (Cajun accent and all) in a movie.

    • Taylor Ramsey

      Like most comics, there have been good and bad versions. Unfortunately, the bad tends to outweigh the good the longer you stick around.
      I think the character has a lot of unrealized potential, but if you were around from the start of Gambit, it is easy to dislike him. He was not created to be a very likeable guy and that part of him has stuck with me.

      • Wow, I’ve never seen an article submitted so much as facts that has gotten so many things wrong lol. You obviously didn’t read the comics or watch the movies.

      • Rogue was a villain as well before she joined the X-Men yet you don’t seem to have bad vibe about that. I sort of understand why, because she was brought up by Mystique but she stole Mrs Marvel’s powers but then changed for the better when she became an X-Men character. The same applies to Gambit. Okay, Gambit did a lot worse but that’s because he was ruled over by Sinister. Also when he was forced to join the Assassins and kill the Morlocks he refused and tried to stop it. He even saved Storm from the Shadow King and because of that, he became an X-Man. If Gambit was a really unlikeable and nasty character, he wouldn’t have ever joined the X-Men. Storm trusted him, as everyone else slowly did as well. The last one to not trust him was Wolverine, which is obvious. I just think you’re focusing on the negative things he’s done than the positives, as I mentioned. And as for Death (which I know many people loathed) he made a deal to become one of Apocalypses’ Horsemen for a sacrifice. Do you think he really wanted to join them? I’m not saying Gambit shouldn’t be criticised but he does deserve a lot more credit. Claremont was the one that created him, so from where he stood there, he can be a lot better handled.

  12. Mark Barrett
    0

    First off, I’m a cartoon watcher rather than a comic reader, so my knowledge of the universe is limited to the cartoons.

    I loved Gambit as a character and would even go as far as to say that he’s probably my favourite (Him or Omega Red who I thought was very cool) and I was very disappointed that he hasn’t really been included in the movie franchise up until now.

    The problem I assume is not so much with Gambit, but with Rogue. Based on the cartoon, it seems like Rogue has been given Jubilee’s story, (Running away, encountering Wolverine and becoming somewhat of a little sister to him) which means Jubilee is ommited and Rogue is much younger.

    Now to tackle Gambit and make him cool in the movies he’d have to be quite a bit older than the current Rogue. To position Rogue as his love interest, you’d either have to make him: A) Much younger, B) Seriously creepy (Like Jimmy Saville Creepy) C) Or make Rogue older.

    In closing, the only way I see him being included is a few movies down the line, when Rogue has been aged by quite a few years, which disappoints me as I’d love to see him included, but it’s either going to take ages, or it won’t happen at all.

  13. Taylor Ramsey

    It is only in recent years in the books that the 2 of them are not joined at the hip. It is a shame as neither has been all that well written, but both have a lot of potential as characters.
    I have to confess that I like the fact that neither are all that used currently, unlike Wolverine, who is in every book Marvel prints, and I think he may be joining Justice League soon . 🙂
    Taylor Kitsch was fine as Gambit in the film, it was just not a well written part, or a well written film.

  14. Your article is a joke. Gambit is fucking awesome and your the whiny bitch.

  15. Gambit without question is the best x men character in my opinion.
    He also had great storyline including the future storyline with bishop, rogue storylines, genosha storyline, marauder storyline etc
    He has an amazing origin story including his life as a thief, rescuing storm in Africa before joining the x men.

    And simply put he is the coolest x men.

    He’s romantic ties to rogue and his funny relationship with wolverine were great reading and viewing as a kid.

    But let’s be honest The x men movies are terrible. None of them have been done correctly and while the first 2 were good they weren’t x men movies.

    Their were no proper costumes, gambit wasn’t in it, way too much wolverine and cyclops was disrespected as a character.

    X MEN NEEDS A REBOOT.

    • Lance Siders
      0

      Agreed no offensethis article and you don’t sound like you know anything about the ragin Cajun , but its ok lmfao.

    • Lance Siders
      0

      You my friend are spot on perfect comment…

    • Lance Siders
      0

      @Nafan awesome glad someone knows wtf there talking about …

  16. Lance Siders
    0

    Dude this is my fav character the fact is . You do know that full potential he is the strongest right like killed dark Phoenix and destroyed a planet as new son. Also he was one of the most popular xmen especially me being around 10 when he came out . Funny thing is fox and non comic fans just know wolverine which is sad because he wasn’t a lot of are favorites. As for his suit and outfit ,its awesome that’s why we all love him , his charm swag and kickass nature. P.s he beat wolvie 4 out of 5 in comics I have them in one he can charge wolvies bones. Also he can stop people’s ability to move, turn air to poison and at one point can blow up watever he looks at also can time travel. One of the only characters to have surgery because he was getting way to powerful. Supposedly he still has all that power he was the only xmen to survive onslaught and was the witness. But watever he still the best . Not to mention he can use energy to heal himself . Super fast as in had a draw with daredevil and spidey along with blade .

  17. David Mancini

    as a huge fan of superhero movies, I found this article to very insightful and enjoyable to read. great article

  18. I’m very mixed about this review. Only half of what you said is true. Some of it, I don’t know whether it’s just to evoke a reaction or not.
    Gambit’s already been in an X-Men film, as stated, and yes it was terrible, and yes Gambit didn’t have enough screentime. Most fans pretend that film never even existed. Deadpool’s portrayal was disgraceful.
    And for the end of your article, most fans DO care and they DO want Gambit in the films. Remember when Last Stand was in the making, literally everyone was making petitions to have him in it and when they found out he got taken out, even when he was supposed to be in it, they were bitterly disappointed, upset or even enraged. I’ve read the reviews on IMDB, Amazon,RT and many people were not impressed about Gambit’s absence. . What does that tell you?
    I don’t care what anyone says. Gambit’s a huge fan favourite and a complex character he deserves to be treated like one. I get there are people that don’t like him that much, but not everyone likes Wolverine or Deadpool either. Some don’t like Cyclops, Rogue or even Storm (who is one of the most admired characters). I’m just getting tired of all the characters that have so much potential being spat on. They deserve much better than that. Especially Gambit.

  19. Tatijana

    I mean, he’s not my fav… but I don’t really not like him.

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