So you may have heard the news by now that the temporarily shelved Gambit movie is back on the go, after a suspiciously quiet few months ever since it was pulled from 20th Century Fox's release schedule.
The Channing Tatum starring Gambit was initially set to open in theatres this year, with a tentative Fall 2016 release date earmarked. But the project was removed from the release calendar a few months back following the departure of original director Rupert Wyatt, and since then there's been barely a whisper regarding the ambitious solo venture.
Gambit Is Set To Begin Production Next Year
Producer Simon Kinberg and X-Men: Apocalypse star Olivia Munn took to YouTube in an interview with The Hashtag Show last week, and Kinberg confirmed that Gambit is still very much in the works. Not only that, but a production start date is more or less settled now, with filming proposed to begin in spring of 2017.
"We have a great script on [Gambit] and hope to shoot that movie at the beginning of spring of next year."
Kinberg had previously pointed to issues of scripting as the reason behind Gambit's delay, as he told Flickering Myth back in May. Then he said that they were "very close" to being finished with the script, but it wasn't yet at the stage where they were confident it would make a good finished product.
Fast forward a couple of months to now though, and it seems that things are finally getting better in terms of Gambit's pre-production. But with all the upheaval and difficulty in getting the movie to this stage, should we be worried about it?
Will Gambit Take A Leaf From Deadpool?
It's no secret that this year's Ryan Reynolds-starring Deadpool was a surprise box-office monster and hit with fans and critics alike. And a huge part of that had to do with both the refreshing tone of the movie and Ryan Reynolds's almost spot-on portrayal of titular character Wade Wilson/Deadpool.
Like Reynolds — who played a critical part in bringing Deadpool to production due to his love of the character — Channing Tatum is also a huge Gambit/Remy LeBeau fan (and why wouldn't he be? Gambit is awesome). In the lead up to his official casting, Tatum had been pretty vocal about how much he'd love to play Gambit in a live-action movie, and his bankability as an A-list star clearly caught the attention of production studio 20th Century Fox, as they brought him on board for the project not long after.
The Gambit project has been aligned with Deadpool in conversation with Kinberg before, and apparently the work Fox did on Deadpool has informed future projects. No surprise, given how ludicrously successful the feature was. As Kinberg told Flickering Myth:
"[Gambit]’s looking really good. I’m not going to say anything about it content-wise. I think one of the things that I’ve learnt on all these movies — and maybe the lesson was best learned for me on Deadpool — is the most important thing is getting the tone and the voice right. That the storytelling, the actual narrative, the plots are sort of interchangeable and disposable, ultimately."
Well, you're not wrong there Kinberg, but narrative is still fairly important — look at what happened to Avengers: Age of Ultron. Still, he's very correct in pointing out that the core of the movie is driven by the characters, so getting them spot-on is step one — especially when it comes to adaptations. As he explained:
"If I ask you what your favorite movies are, you’re not going to tell me about the plot. You’re going to tell me you love this character. And so what we’ve really tried to do with Gambit is make sure that we get the voice of that character right and the tone of the comics 100% on the page."
Getting The Tone Right For Gambit
So, should we be worried about Gambit? Maybe not. Deadpool was a marked success because it was a passion project, in the same way that the first X-Men movie was for director Bryan Singer. If Tatum and the rest of the crew put half as much effort into crafting Gambit as the crew of the near-decade-in-production Deadpool did, we probably don't have anything to worry about.
Last year's laughably bad Fantastic Four — also known as FANT4STIC, or my personal favorite "Fan-Fourstic" — failed on numerous levels, but one of the big problems with it was no one working on it seemed to have a clue what to do with the Fantastic Four team, or their villains for that matter.
You don't need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of comic books in order to make a good superhero movie, but it's at least worth knowing what dynamic works in the comics and trying to work with that. As Kinberg identified when talking to Flickering Myth:
"I actually think part of the problem on the last Fantastic Four is that we tried to make it maybe a little bit more like an X-Men movie, make it a little bit darker, when, in fact, I think the Fantastic Four comic traditionally is a lighter, brighter, more hopeful book that’s interested in very different things to other comics. So the challenge this time is to get it right tonally and to find what is special about the Fantastic Four as a story."
Thankfully it seems as though the cast and crew of Gambit have a little more of a clue regarding what makes Remy LeBeau work as a character. According to Kinberg, the Gambit movie is gunning for "a very unique tone," different from both Deadpool and the X-Men series, and lifting from his history as a thief and con-man. This aspect of the character, Kinberg says, is really where they've focused their attention, which sounds like a pretty smart bet.
There's no solid release date set for Gambit yet, but if production does begin around spring 2017 as estimated, we're probably looking at an early 2018 release date for the Cajun-flavored superhero outing. And who knows, maybe we'll see Gambit and Deadpool teaming up with the X-Men at some point in the future.
For now though, Kinberg and Fox are keeping their cards pretty close to their chests. Unlike Gambit, who would probably just put his cards through someone's eye.