Although he rates high our Top 5: Comic Book Characters You Either Love Or Hate, Gambit has a certain undeniable charm. He’s a divisive hero even within his own camp inside the X-Men where he was once seen as the Judas Iscariot of mutantkind both in Bishop’s future and the X-Men’s past leading up to the Mutant Massacre. Irregardless of how people view him, this cajun creation by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee is one to watch — and potentially watch on the big screen.
Gambit’s already been a featured player in comic book movies, with
Tim Riggins Taylor Kitsch playing the role in 2009′s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Around that time there was some open talk by Kitsch and others of a Gambit movie, but it seemed to fizzle in favor of a Wolverine sequel and the potential Deadpool project. Now three years removed, I still think there’s a chance for a Gambit movie — with the right actors, director and script. Here’s how it could be done.
Gambit has an interesting origin that’s never quite gotten its due, and I’d take advantage of that to create, in essence, a Gambit: Year One style movie. According to comic book history, Gambit was stolen away from a New Orleans hospital shortly after birth and adopted by the LeBeau family, head of the clandestine Thieves Guild. Named Remy LeBeau, he went from street urchin to street thief, catching the gaze and ire of family head Jean-Luc LeBeau after a failed attempt to pick his pocket. He soon found himself at the side of Jean-Luc while heading the Thieves’ Guild, coming across their rivals in the Assassin’s Guild on multiple occasions. This rivalry was like a New Orleans-flavored Hatfield & McCoys (or Montagues and Capulets), but Gambit was lured into an attempt to broach peace by marrying their group’s prized children, Bella Donna. This didn’t quite work out when Gambit killed Bella Donna’s brother in a duel the latter started, forcing Gambit to run from his adopted life, his arranged wife and the city of New Orleans entirely.
For the movie, I’d take advantage of that warring family aspect and the sense of epic fighting and acrobatics it seems to denote, but also bring in one of Gambit’s latter foes Mister Sinister as a behind-the-scenes instigator of it all. Imagine the Gambit movie as an action-oriented Romeo & Juliet story, with parkour, wushu and more, all filmed in the low country of New Orleans. District B13 meets Treme? Maybe?
And if that wasn’t enough, what if the Gambit movie acted as a lead-in to a new modern-day X-men franchise, with Mister Sinister acting on behalf of a larger threat (*cough* *cough* Apocalypse *cough* *cough*) that brings together a new generation of X-Men, Gambit included, in an “All-New, All-Different” kind of way.
Gambit shouldn’t be a formulaic superhero movie with an experienced director giving out a new spin on a timeless format. Instead, I’d enlist Gareth Evans (The Raid: Redemption) to bring his ultra-kinetic action style to Louisiana for Gambit. Bayou Billy ain’t got no place here, as Evans could play up the unique culture the streets and avenues of New Orleans has to offer. Although it’s used often in cliche, the New Orleans of a Gambit movie needs to be as much a character as Gambit himself, not unlike the unique character/city connections DC heroes like Superman and Batman have with their own surroundings.
Gambit /Remy LeBeau – David Belle: Sorry Kitsch, but I never quite liked you as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Instead I’d wipe the slate clean and bring in a foregin star like David Belle to really catch movie-goers off-guard with his parkour acrobatics and the fact that he can do all his own stunts. While he may be light on the acting skills, his work on District B13 as Leito is promising and as an added bonus, he knows actual French which is more than I can say for some of the comics scribe who’ve tried to give Remy’s dialogue authenticity.
Bella Donna Boudreaux – Jessica Chastain: Comics fans might have no clue who Chastain is, but if you’ve seen The Help or last year’s great Take Shelter you know she can act. I’d love to see someone more classicly trained as an actor stand opposite Belle-As-LeBeau, and Chastain could do alot to fill out the Bella Donna part as more than just a cliched 90s character.
Mister Sinister / Dr. Nathaniel Essex – James Ransone: Blame Kieron Gillen, but since he popped up in Uncanny X-Men I have a new respect and understanding of Mister Sinister. With that, I’d consider making Sinister skew a bit younger and give it over to one of the best young actors today, James Ransone. Ransone has positively killed it in his roles in three back-to-back David Simon TV shows The Wire, Generation Kill and Treme, and I’d love to see him live up to his potential and be a truly sinister force in superhero movies.
Jean-Luc Lebeau – Michael Douglas: Jean-Luc’s character in comics is relatively small, but in light of a Gambit movie it’d be an ideal chance to flesh out, and I’d bring in a real shark of an actor with Michael Douglas. I’d tone it down a couple notches from his role as Gordon Gecko, but Douglas could absolutely carry the movie in his own way as the mentor to Gambit.
Rogue – Anna Paquin: You know how I was saying this could tie-in to the larger X-Men movie franchise? This is how. Imagine this True Blood actress returning to the franchise (and the bayous of Louisiana) for this role in a cameo or end-credits scene. Perhaps Rogue could usher Gambit into a new X-Men team being assembled in the modern day? Who knows.