Long-running whispers in the cinematic "X-Men" universe have now mutated into fact: Channing Tatum will officially be taking on the role of Remy LeBeau, aka Gambit, in future "X-Men" movies.
Lauren Shuler-Donner, longtime producer of the "X-Men" series, confirmed this winning hand for the franchise.
"It is Channing," said Shuler-Donner to Total Film at the U.K. premiere of "X-Men: Days of Future Past." "Yes. Yes!"
"He's a rogue, Channing; he's a rascal, just like Remy LeBeau," replied Shuler-Donner when asked what qualities make Tatum an ideal choice for the role. "And he can handle the action, as we know. And he's got a real good heart, I know him personally, I did a movie with him [2006's "She's the Man"]."
Tatum himself had expressed interest in the role as far back as last fall.
"I would like to play Gambit, [he's] my favorite," said Tatum to Total Film back in September. "I'm from New Orleans, or around that area, my dad's from New Orleans, and I'd like to do a Cajun accent, 'cause I can do it for real."
Gambit was previously portrayed on the big screen by Taylor Kitsch in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (2009), but Tatum feels his background can contribute to a more traditional interpretation of the character from the comics.
"No knock on Taylor Kitsch at all 'cause I actually like his Gambit, but I've always lived around the Cajun people," said Tatum. "Gambit was always the woman-lovin', smokin', drinkin', he was the punk rock of all the superheroes. He's a thief! He kind of rode the line."
Remy LeBeau/Gambit was created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Jim Lee, making his debut with a brief appearance in "Uncanny X-Men Annual" No. 14 (July 1990) before taking center stage in "Uncanny X-Men" No. 266 (August 1990). He has the ability to create and manipulate kinetic energy and is skilled in hypnosis, hand-to-hand combat, the use of a bo (a Japanese staff weapon) and, most distinctly, card-throwing (and -playing, at that).
Hailing from New Orleans, Gambit quickly became a fan favorite for the "rogue" and "rascal" elements mentioned by Shuler-Donner. It took him a while to earn the X-Men's trust due to his connections to shape-shifting villain Mister Sinister and his reputation as a master thief.
And speaking of Rogue (portrayed by Anna Paquin in the films), Gambit has a rather fiery on-again, off-again romantic relationship with the lady mutant, which has been the cause of some, er, conflict in his storylines.
There's no official word as to which "X-Men" movie will first feature Channing Tatum in the role, though there's really no reason why we shouldn't expect to see him as early as "X-Men: Apocalypse," which hits theaters on May 27, 2016. Gambit has something of a venomous past with the titular supervillain, having once been transformed into one of Apocalypse's brainwashed Horsemen, Death.
"X-Men: Days of Future Past" opens May 23.
See Taylor Kitsch in action as Gambit: