Channing Tatum May be Leaving Gambit
Back in May, Tatum was announced as the mutant Gambit, a role previously played by Taylor Kitsch in"X-Men Origins: Wolverine." It was believed, given Tatum's star power, that he would be taking over for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine - who will be retiring after the third Wolverine solo film - as the resident franchise frontrunner. This, now, may not be the case.
Gambit was created in 1990 by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee, first appearing in Uncanny X-Men #266. While Gambit became a fan favorite X-Man during the 1990s, he has yet to become a major player in the X-Men film series.
Fox and Tatum have both been quiet on the subject. According to The Wrap, they received this information from an unidentified - though apparently reliable - source. Because of the possibly dubious nature of this information, it could be wise to take these reports with a grain of salt, however the story is being picked up by many various news outlets.
Tatum was initially planned to make his debut in the spinoff film "Gambit" in 2016, which is already in pre-production. According to The Wrap's report, it may have been the pre-production process which has caused the drama with Tatum and the production. Tatum, in addition to starring in the film, was also signed on with his creative partner Reid Carolin to produce the film. It is being reported that the deal began to unravel because of the casting of the film's female lead.
Whether or not Tatum will be able to work out his issues and stay on the picture, or if he will leave the starring role but stay on as producer, remains to be seen. If Tatum does leave, however, what could this mean for the film and the future of the character?
"Gambit" was set to go before the lens in October, however this may not happen if the film loses it's leading man. Casting an actor to play a role that could last for years, and possibly carry an entire franchise - as Wolverine has done - isn't something that can be done overnight. 2016 could end up seeing one less X-Men film if Tatum does exit the project.
Fox could bring back Kitsch to reprise his role from "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," but the fact that he wasn't offered the role to begin with could still exclude this as a possibility. From a fan's perspective, while "Origins" itself was rather poorly received, reaction to Kitsch himself was mostly positive - except for his accent, but he can work on that.
With both "Deadpool" and "X-Men: Apocalypse" coming out in 2016 - and the third Wolverine film in 2017 - Fox could conceivably have another two years to get "Gambit" back on track if Tatum does, in fact, leave. Fox could also choose not to develop this film or this character further.
"X-Men: Apocalypse" has already been confirmed as being the end of the trilogy of films that began with "X-Men: First Class". Another way Fox could conceivably go, would be with a completely different team of X-Men.
In the comics, Deadpool was a member of the mutant team X-Force, along with another fan favorite character, Cable. With Deadpool being established in a film himself in 2016, it would be very easy for Fox to switch the franchise lead role to Ryan Reynolds' character, and make X-Force their next team trilogy. Reynolds has every bit the star power, if not more, that Tatum has and he could easily fill the shoes that Hugh Jackman will soon be leaving vacant.
Ryan Reynolds has already expressed his desire to see an X-Force film. The loss of Tatum, and possibly the entire Gambit character, could open the door for that.
In many ways, Deadpool seems like a much more likely character to lead the franchise into the future than Gambit. While Gambit does have his fan base, especially since the animated series in the 90s, he has certainly never been on par with Wolverine as far as popularity goes. Deadpool, on the other hand,definitely has a cult following that could rival Wolverine's popularity.
However this situation ends up unfolding, fans can be confident in the knowledge that with only a couple notable exceptions, Fox has done quite well with the X-Men and they have created a film franchise that has lasted 15 years and seven films without being rebooted or restarted. With Fox, the X-Men are in good hands. Much better hands than the Fantastic Four seem to be, but that is a rant for another time.