It's been a little while since X-Men: Apocalypse released worldwide to a lukewarm reception; personally I found it highly entertaining, if light on certain character developments — especially in the case of the Magneto/Quicksilver relationship. So now we're looking forward along the 20th Century Fox-Marvel Universe release calendar, which is pretty secretive regarding the future of the core X-Men team.
But two big releases we know we're getting are the mysterious Wolverine 3 — which may or may not draw from the Old Man Logan graphic novel — and Gambit, starring Channing Tatum as the tall Cajun drink of water.
Whilst we know that Wolverine 3 will be taking place in the future, at the moment it's not known exactly to what extent it will tie into the events of Apocalypse, as producer Simon Kinberg told Collider that there are threads of Wolverine 3 in the X-Men: Apocalypse post-credits scene. In fact, there's threads connecting to various movies.
"[The 'X-Men: Apocalypse' post-credits scene is] a nod toward potentially a lot of different movies. I mean certainly the Wolverine movie is related to what happens at the end of it, but there’s also another character that’s introduced, at least in name, in the tag and he could show up in any host of different X-Men films. Maybe a Gambit movie, maybe another X-Men movie."
Between Wolverine 3 and Gambit it seems more likely that the X-Men: Apocalypse post-credits scene would be a set up for Gambit.
The X-Men: Apocalypse Post-Credits Scene
The scene in question was concerned with the aftermath of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) breaking out of Col. William Stryker's (Josh Helman) containment facility at Alkali Lake — with a little help from Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and the rest of the X-Men babies, of course.
During the post-credits scene we see some mysterious unidentified characters walking through the facility, the halls littered with dead bodies in the wake of Wolverine's rampage. One of these black-suited men collects a blood sample taken from the snarling mutant known also as Weapon X. He pops the sample in his briefcase (all good mysterious Men in Black have briefcases), and that's when things get interesting.
The briefcase is marked with the company name "Essex Corp." — which comic book readers may have recognised as a big hint towards the existence of Marvel villain Mr. Sinister, a.k.a. Dr. Nathaniel Essex in the Fox-Marvel Universe.
How Does This Connect To Gambit?
Well I'm glad you asked, stranger. You see, Mr. Sinister is a hugely important villain in the backstory of Gambit, first known as Remy Etienne LeBeau.
Remy was kidnapped as a baby from a New Orleans orphanage by the LeBeau Clan Thieves' Guild, an action ordered by the Antiquary — an underground market for the selling of children. His red eyes were the reason, as the Antiquary believed in an ancient prophecy that a red-eyed man would unite the warring Thieves and Assassins Guilds and usher in an era of prosperity.
After ending up on the streets for his own protection from the Antiquary, Remy was later adopted by Jean-Luc LeBeau — the LeBeau Thieves' Guildmaster. Due to this uniquely turbulent childhood, Remy developed as a master thief and illusionist, but it was when his mutant powers emerged that things got really interesting.
His bio-kinectic abilities — which you can click here to learn more about — first manifested when Remy was a teenager, and only grew more powerful as he grew older. A few years later the Thieves' Guild was hired by the villain in question — Mr. Sinister, then under his geneticist guise of Dr. Nathaniel Essex — to steal back some of his notes from the Weapon X program.
Remy was chosen by the Guild to carry out the mission for Mr. Sinister, and arrived at the Weapon X facility in time to witness Wolverine/Weapon X escaping. He discovered Essex's notes, but after reading them realised how dangerous the knowledge of the Weapon X program could be in the wrong hands. He burned them instead, as he didn't trust Essex one bit. As it turns out, that was a wise judgement.
Gambit, Meet Sinister
After Remy's failed wedding to Bella Donna Boudreaux of the Assassins' Guild, and the death of her brother Julien at his hands in a duel, he was exiled from New Orleans, becoming a drifter operating as a master thief for hire. But around this time his powers started to grow out of control, and he eventually realised that the bio-kinectic energy contained within his body was too much for him to control.
Desperate, he was re-introduced to Mr. Sinister, who claimed he could help him. The scientist could fix him, but grudges ran deep and the villain demanded a high price in exchange. Mr. Sinister performed surgery on Remy in order to enable him to better control his powers, removing a portion of his brain. This made him less powerful, but able to keep his abilities under control. Sinister kept the removed portion of his brain-stem in a silver vial — which was later surgically put back in order to increase his powers (make up your mind, Remy).
In exchange, Gambit became indebted to Mr. Sinister, having to steal various items for him. Stealing wasn't so bad for Gambit — that's all part and parcel of being a professional thief. But then Sinister charged him with collecting various super-powered mercenaries and assassins together to form the Marauders — a group which Sinister used as a strike-force to assassinate other mutants.
Around this time Remy decided he'd had enough of Mr. Sinister's schemes. Though Gambit may have been a thief he still had a certain moral sense to him, and by this point he was also in possession of the silver vial which Sinister had been holding over him as collateral. Sinister promised he'd be freed of his obligations after one more mission, to which Remy grudgingly agreed. He was to lead the Marauders in a mission as their guide.
The Mutant Massacre
Unaware of the nature of said mission and Mr. Sinister's true intentions, Gambit led some of the Marauders into the Morlock Tunnels beneath New York. Unbeknownst to him, the rest of the Marauders were hiding there also with a terrible goal in mind. The Morlocks are a group of mutants who then resided in the NYC tunnels and —though they've been antagonistic at points — they're generally considered neutral, and just want to be left alone by the outside world.
What Gambit didn't know was that the Marauders were there to wipe out the Morlocks on Mr. Sinister's orders — men, women and children — in the Mutant Massacre story arc.
Gambit discovered the true intentions of the Marauders too late to stop them, and was attacked and left for dead by Sabertooth. But he was able to save a single child — Sarah, who would later become Marrow, leader of Gene Nation. The Mutant Massacre had a profound effect upon Gambit, and he spent many years trying to make up for what he let happen that day.
Since then the two have come into contact a few times, and a strange dynamic exists between them. Whilst Gambit may hate Mr. Sinister for tricking him into being part of the Mutant Massacre, he still in some way feels indebted to him. As for Sinister, though he considered Gambit expendable during Mutant Massacre, he has also shown an uncharacteristic fondness for the thief over the years, something very unusual for this cold hearted character.
Will This Story Affect The Movies?
Well, it's hard to say given that we don't know too much about the Gambit movie yet. But given the nod towards Mr. Sinister in the X-Men: Apocalypse post-credits and the fact that Gambit will exist within the same universe as the X-Men movies, it seems pretty likely that the two characters will be drawn into conflict together.
The Mr. Sinister nod could've been Fox setting up the next big antagonist after Magneto, Stryker and Apocalypse. It could also be the first proper "bad guy" who will appear as an antagonist in more than one movie in the universe — not counting Magneto, who is shades of grey at best right now.
The majority of the X-Men movies so far have been concerned with the mutants railing against human institutions seeking to destroy them. After the mixed reception of Apocalypse, another classic big villain being introduced could be what the franchise needs. Especially if — as in the case of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — this provides a means for different characters to come together from separate movies to create a whole narrative.
By bringing in the dynamic between Mr. Sinister and Gambit — even just as a backstory — you've got a wealth of narrative to work off from the comics. The X-Men were present at the Mutant Massacre as they fought to protect the Morlocks the best they could, and Gambit kept his involvement in it secret from them for a long time, much to his shame.
The events of the Mutant Massacre occurred before Gambit had hooked up with the X-Men, it wasn't until he later met Storm that he became drawn into the group. But there's certainly a solid link moving forward here, and many possibilities.
Could we see a version of Mutant Massacre in Gambit? Could Gambit still be working for Mr. Sinister when we meet him, or has this terrible event already happened? Will it drive him towards the X-Men, or away from them? And does this mean we'll see Mr. Sinister in the Gambit movie? I wouldn't bet against it.
Do you think Mr. Sinister will make an appearance in Gambit? Have your say in the comments below, and relive Gambit's first Fox-Marvel iteration below.