News broke this week that Fox, who still owns the rights to Marvel’s X-Men characters (WHY, Marvel, WHY? You are owned by the Mega-Mouse! You can afford to buy them back!), has sat down at the table with Channing Tatum, who wants to play the role of the merry mutants’ very own Ragin’ Cajun, Gambit.
The response among the fandom has been mixed. Which is to say that guys either think it’s cool or don’t much care. Women, on the other hand, are pretty uniformly saying “NO.” There’s a #Chambit hashtag on Twitter now for discussing how bad an idea it is–count me in.
Despite his apparent southern roots and his enthusiasm for the role, Tatum is just … well, he’s not sexy enough to pull off the smoldering Remy LeBeau, in my opinion.
This is the man that fandom loves with Rogue, the man who can keep up with Storm. (The less said about Fox’s casting of the latter, the better.) This is the suave, sexy thief with an angsty past. Not one of Tatum’s prior roles has pulled the sort of performance out of him that Gambit’s history with the Marauders and Morlocks will require. Nothing in his filmography indicates to me that he’ll be able to pull off the ninja-in-fuchsia, devil-may-care rapscallion I’ve been reading about since his debut in the 90s.
Fox is trying to capitalize on someone they see as a bankable star. And that works when your bankable star has more going for him than abs. Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen are bankable because they’re incredible talents with marvelous presence. Even Hugh Jackman, who gets the lion’s share of the camera time, is a great talent (he’d even be able to pull off X-Men: The Musical if Fox was willing to try it). Chambit, on the other hand, has little else going for him than … well, except a nice six-pack.
The 21 Jump Street actor has a sequel coming, cleverly titled 22 Jump Street, and Magic Mike. Other than that, the guy does not have an impressive resume. He’s an action movie star, if you believe White House Down and one of the GI Joe movies. Which … well … I don’t. They’re taking, forgive the expression, a rather large gamble here on a guy whose acting chops are more beefcake than genuine substance.
Fox could be smart and follow the Marvel method–find somebody who isn’t already a name, let them embrace the role and let the dollars roll in as the fangirls (44% of movie viewers! FORTY-FOUR PERCENT!) do the rest. Following what the fans say has been a smart play on the part of studios. They might be well-advised to listen to the women on this one.
The only positive thing I can see so far about this potential (and potentially disastrous) casting choice is that Tatum acknowledges his Remy accent is crappy and that it needs work. At least he cares enough to do that much, and is trying to convince the skeptical that he won’t be phoning in the role like some previous X-Men cast members have done.