Channing Tatum Is Still Bummed He Never Got To Play Gambit

Move over, Sad Keanu. Make room on the bench for Sad Channing Tatum. The "21 Jump Street" and "Magic Mike" star has been connected to the smooth-talking, card-throwing, fan-favorite X-Men member known as Gambit since the early 2000s. After scheduling conflicts and rewrites for "X-Men: The Last Stand" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" kept him from playing the iconic Marvel Comics character, he set out to star as the Ragin' Cajun in his own feature film. But this was the beginning of a wild ride with so many peaks and valleys that Tatum might have needed a barf bag.

Originally set as a sexy heist thriller scheduled for release in 2009 with Tatum and Reid Carolin's Free Association producing, "Gambit" went through so many stages of re-development over the next 10 years. A who's who of directors including Joe Cornish, Shane Black, F. Gary Gray, Gareth Evans, and Darren Aronofsky were all considered to helm the film. Eventually, Rupert Wyatt, Doug Liman, and Gore Verbinski all had some time in the director's chair. By early 2019, Tatum and Carolin were looking to direct Remy LeBeau's story as a suave superhero romantic comedy akin to "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," "The Philadelphia Story," and "His Girl Friday" for the X-Men's new corporate overlords at the Walt Disney Company.

However, when spring rolled around that year, "Gambit" no longer fit into the overall plan for the X-Men, which was now under the supervision of Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios. Fans are certainly ecstatic to see Gambit again in the upcoming animated series "X-Men '97," but Tatum was left so scarred from the whole experience that he hasn't kept up with Marvel projects, despite being a fan.

Dealt A Bad Hand

While promoting his upcoming film "Dog," Tatum spoke to Variety about his co-directing debut with Reid Carolin. But of course, since it was supposed to be his co-directing debut at one point, it was probably hard to avoid talking about "Gambit." It started light by reviewing their vision for the character and why the studio wasn't in favor of the long-time producing partners directing.

"The studio really didn't want us to direct it. They wanted anybody but us, essentially, because we had never directed anything. They would call him 'flamboyant' in his description. I wouldn't — he was just the coolest person. He could pull anything off. Most superheroes, their outfits are utilitarian. Batman's got his belt. Gambit's like, 'No, this s***'s is just fly, bro! This s**t walked down the Paris runway last year.' He's just wearing the stuff that's so dope because he loves fashion."

Then, Carolin discussed just how close "Gambit" was to actually happening. The New Orleans production office had just opened, locations were being scouted, and the film had been cast. "The thesis was the only thing harder than saving the world is making a relationship work," he said. "[But] I think they needed to redesign the 'X-Men' from the ground up." That's when Tatum revealed that he swore off the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

"Once 'Gambit' went away, I was so traumatized. I shut off my Marvel machine. I haven't been able to see any of the movies. I loved that character. It was just too sad. It was like losing a friend because I was so ready to play him."

The report ends on a bit of a sad note. When asked if he would still play Gambit if given the opportunity, Tatum responded with, "Uh, yeah, I would love to play Gambit. I don't think we should direct it. I think that was hubris on our part." You can just picture his puppy dog eyes welling up while giving this response, can't you?

Okay, when news first broke about Channing Tatum playing Gambit surfaced all those years ago, I'll admit that I wasn't on board. I feel like there could be other suitable options out there. That said, I definitely empathize with the feeling of working extremely hard on something and throwing your full self into it, only to have it not come to fruition in the end. I almost empathize to the point that I wouldn't mind seeing him take on the role whenever Marvel Studios decides to do live-action X-Men again. Of course, by the time that happens, the actor might age out of the part entirely. 

But there's still hope! Maybe. Even if there isn't, this dog in his new movie is adorable and they're probably still friends. So at least he has that going for him. "Dog" starring Channing Tatum, Jane Adams, Kevin Nash, Q'orianka Kilcher, Ethan Suplee, Emmy Raver-Lampman, and Bill Burr hits theaters on February 18, 2022.