As you may have heard, Magic Mike XXL star Channing Tatum is joining Fox’s X-Men movie universe as the Cajun superhero Gambit in a solo film set to hit theaters in the fall of 2016. The film is not only an indication of Fox’s commitment to expanding the X-franchise in the wake of Hugh Jackman’s announcement that he’s almost done playing Wolverine, but an indication that Fox wants to really grow its own superhero universe as both Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. roll out films with increasingly high stakes. Gambit was previously played by Taylor Kitsch in the mostly awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but now Fox has Tatum — who’s already proven his box office clout with Magic Mike and 21 Jump Street — in its corner, and for Gambit they’re committed to going big.
How big? Well, the production recently filed an application to film in Louisiana, Gambit’s home, and listed the budget at $154,974,309. Now, that may not sound like much when you look at stuff like Transformers: Age of Extinction and Avengers: Age of Ultron, but Gambit is a thief who grows up in Louisiana, throws explosive playing cards and eventually joins the X-Men. For comparison, Christopher Nolan’s galaxy-spanning epic Interstellar only reportedly cost $165 million to make. Where’s all this money going to go? It’s entirely possible that whatever FX shots and other mutant appearances director Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) is planning will justify this, but it still feels a bit high. Especially for a hero that few people outside of comics have ever heard of. Then again, Ant-Man cost around $130 million, and no one had heard of him before, either, so maybe this is just what superhero movies cost these days.
It does back up Fox’s superhero mission statement, though. They’ve got two Marvel superhero franchises to their name — X-Men and Fantastic Four — and they’re bound and determined to milk them for all they’re worth. Personally, I’m rooting for Gambit, if only because its success will pave the way for other solo X-Men movies, and I really want Nightcrawler to get his very own adventure.