Channing Tatum has just been confirmed for the role of Gambit in future X-Men films, leaving X-Men fans wondering, “Uh... what?”
Plans for a series of X-Men solo spinoffs were revealed a few weeks ago, with Jennifer Lawrence reprising her role as Mystique and one of the X-Men producers reawakening rumors of a solo Deadpool movie. Tatum was already in talks for Gambit at that point, but most fans likely assumed that he wouldn’t be the eventual choice, much like how he was rumored and then dropped from Nick Cave’s reboot of comicbook antihero the Crow.
Channing Tatum is likeable, famous, and happy to play action roles. In that regard he’s ideal for a superhero franchise, which is probably why Hollywood has tapped him to play characters like Gambit and the Crow, and why he was cast as the voice of Superman in the Lego movie. The problem is, while Gambit is technically a superhero, he’s not exactly the kind of friendly, muscular everyman character Channing Tatum is known for.
Perhaps Tatum has more range than he’s given credit for, but Gambit is meant to be a sly, quick-witted charmer with a slightly Captain Jack Sparrow-ish air, whereas Tatum’s filmography mostly leans towards meathead roles. The fan reaction to this casting news is overwhelmingly negative, not because people don’t like Channing Tatum, but because he seems like such an inappropriate choice.
"Channing Tatum Confirmed To Play #Gambit In ‘X-Men" WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY— Carli B. (@bilrac) May 13, 2014
Why didn't X-Men stick with Taylor Kitsch for Gambit? I just feel he's more Gambit-y than Channing Tatum— Chet Cannon (@Chet_Cannon) May 13, 2014
So it looks like Channing Tatum will play the role of 'Gambit' in the next X-Men movie. I've been waiting for Gambit but man, why Channing?!— Rob (@Linkinspy) May 13, 2014
This may sound like a superficial criticism, but Tatum’s appearance is one of the main reasons why fans are annoyed by the concept of #Chambit.
Superhero movies are already dominated by male action stars who effectively become body-builders for the duration of the filming process, but Tatum may be the first instance of an actor who has to lose weight for a superhero role. Remy LeBeau has always been more sinewy and flexible than bulky, like Superman or Captain America. In fact, Gambit is often namechecked as a comic character who is more physically appealing to female readers, because he doesn’t look like a male power fantasy with enormous biceps.
Casting Channing Tatum means that Gambit is now physically indistinguishable from the vast majority of superheroic leading men. Many fans are disappointed Taylor Kitsch isn’t reprising his cameo role as Gambit in X-Men: Origins, not because he made much of an impact but because with his swimmer’s build and slightly douchey good looks, he looks right.
In the end, all of these complaints about Channing Tatum’s appearance and presumed acting range are little more than screaming into the void. #Chambit is real, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
We also don’t know what type of movie they’re thinking of making, although some hints from X-Men producer Lauren Schuler indicate that it might be a smaller kind of story than the action-heavy Wolverine spinoffs. Perhaps they’re aiming for an offbeat comedy Gambit, riffing off Tatum’s success with 21 Jump Street? Actually, that might be pretty interesting.
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