Channing Tatum to Play Gambit: Upgrade or Downgrade?

Gambit, X-Men, Channing TatumEverett Collection/WENN

The X-Men series may be getting a new taste of New Orleans. At the MTV Movie Awards, Channing Tatum revealed that he’s been in talks with X-Men producer Shuler Donner about taking up the role of Gambit in a future X-Men film. Gambit, the Cajun, card-slinging mutant has been a favorite among X-Men fans ever since the character’s heyday in the early ’90s, which is why it’s almost criminal that he hasn’t gotten his proper due in at least one of the seven X-Men films released so far. Sure, Gambit was featured in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but Taylor Kitsch is about as Cajun as a ham sandwich, so it’s about time the character received a cinematic upgrade.

While talking with MTV, Tatum said: “I met with Lauren Shuler Donner. And I would love it. Gambit is really the only X-Man I’ve ever loved. I mean I’ve loved them all, they’re all great, but I guess from being down south – my dad’s from Louisiana, I’m from Mississippi, Alabama, Florida – I don’t know. I just related to him. He’s just kind of suave.” Tatum’s description of the character is ringing all the right bells, and we’re thinking his rendition of the character would be an obvious upgrade from whatever trench coat wearing imposter was traipsing around in X-Men Origins. Gambit wouldn’t be the first time an X-Men characters was recast. 2011’s X-Men First-Class and the upcoming X-Men:Days of Future Past focus on younger versions of our favorite characters, but how well do they match up with their older counterparts from the original X-Men movies?


The old version: The original Mystique, as played by Rebecca Romijin, was slinky and deadly accomplice to Magneto. Her sparse dialogue made her seem even more dangerous, but she really wasn’t a character so much as a shape-shifting cog in Magneto’s human destroying machine.
The new version: In First-Class, Mystique was a much more defined character. She had motivations and a backstory that helped give her some much needed dimension. Jennifer Lawrence‘s depiction might not have the same deadly presence as her counterpart, but she made Mystique an infinitely more interesting person.
Final verdict: Upgrade. We really dug Romijn’s take on the character, but there simply wasn’t much substance rumbling under her blue scaly surface. First Class goes much further in characterizing the mutant, so this is a pretty easy choice to make.


The old version: Patrick Stewart commanded the screen with his fatherly portrayal of Professor X. He was patient, kind, and more than willing to help any wayward mutant that found his or her way to his doorstep. He was basically a surrogate father to every kid watching the X-Men films during the early 2000s.
The new version: James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier was a young, cocksure playboy that fancied himself as the smartest person in the room, and wanted everyone to know it. He’s brilliant, sure, but hasn’t yet developed the restraint or the nurturing qualities that one immediately thinks of when thinking about Professor X. 
Final verdict: Tie. Honestly, both versions of the character are fantastic depictions of the same man at two points in time. While Patrick Stewart’s Professor X is certainly a more classic take on the character, James McAvoy gives a younger version of the character impresses for different reasons. We just can’t pick a favorite


The old version: Kelsey Grammer perfectly nails the duality of the character, convincingly portraying the buttoned-up, Shakespeare-quoting scientific mastermind that is Hank McCoy, while also shedding the business suit and going feral and animalistic when necessary.
The new version: Nicholas Hoult plays a much more diminutive beast: unsure, awkward, lacking in self-confidence. In many ways, the Hank McCoy from First Class  represents all of the awkward growing pains that are associated with burgeoning adolescence and coming to terms with mutant powers. Unfortunately, First Class drops the ball with the Beast transformation. The blue and hairy version of Beast looks like a Muppet gone horribly wrong.
Final verdict: Downgrade. The First Class version was a good origin for the character, but Kelsey Grammer’s version is simply definitive. We’d be hard pressed to think of a better casting choice. 


The old version: The old Magneto is simply cool. He’s fine-tuned his malice into something way more cunning than abject fury. Gone is the rage and reactionary hate. What’s left is a calm, directed, and efficient determination to extinguish humanity. He still burns with revenge, but understands that vengeance is a dish best served cold.
The new version: Michael Fassbender’s younger version of Magneto is a swell of rageing fury. The character is reckless, volatile, broken, and out for revenge, and Magneto has never been as enjoyable as when he’s traveling the world and hunting down Nazis as a young adult. 
Final verdict: Upgrade. This was definitely the hardest one of the bunch, but we’re going with the younger Magneto. As much as it feels like sacrilege to vote against Ian McKellen’s original, Fassbender gave the character so much fire and bristle. Plus, we could watch several  movies of Erik Lehnsherr: Nazi Hunter.