X-Men: Apocalypse. Ah, what a turd of a movie. A movie that featured an actual purple turd in the titular Apocalypse, a comic book supervillain of the highest order that fans had waited for ages to see on the big screen only for director Bryan Singer and co at 20th Century Fox to turn him into a B-grade Power Rangers baddie ripoff. The mishandling of Apocalypse was just one of many forehead-slapping mistakes made on the 2016 movie, resulting in critical and fan derision.
And so with all that dumbness, most people just notched up the film’s puzzling end-credits scene as just another fumble that went nowhere. The scene in question showed a bunch of men in black suits visit the military facility in which a bestial Wolverine had escaped from earlier in the 1980s-set film. These MIB’s retrieve an X-ray and blood sample labelled “Weapon X” – the codename for Wolverine – and store them in a case marked for the Essex Corporation.
At this point, all the comic book fans in the cinema went “AH-HA!” as they knew that Nathaniel Essex was the real name of Mister Sinister, a classic X-Men villain obsessed with genetic manipulation. Clearly this was setting up the next big baddie in the franchise, right? Well, no. Because there was no mention at all of him or the Essex Corp in Logan (many assumed Richard E. Grant’s evil scientist would be revealed to be Mister Sinister) nor in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the final X-Men film released theatrically before Fox was bought by Disney. But as we’re now learning, about four years later, the point of that entire scene was actually to set up Channing Tatum’s Gambit solo movie. Wait, what?
Simon Kinberg, who penned most of the X-Men films and directed Dark Phoenix, revealed this nugget during a recent IGN watch-party of X-Men: Days of Future Past:
We had a tease of it at the end of Apocalypse. The Essex Corp is something that you see in a tag at the end of Apocalypse. We had talked about doing something with him, and I won’t get into the specifics of it since it’s no longer a 20th Century Fox property and now it’s part of the MCU. I have no idea what the plan is. But Mister Sinister was going to be part of the Gambit movie starring Channing Tatum.
Huh. I would never actually have thought of Mister Sinister in a Gambit film as the two don’t really have any serious connection in the comics. I’m actually not sure how that story would play out, especially given reports that the Gambit movie was going to be scaled down from what we had seen in the X-Men blockbusters and instead focus on street-level criminals instead of world-ending stakes. Of course, we never got the opportunity to see any of that realized.
Tatum’s Gambit movie was one of the most troubled superhero productions of recent times. He was supposed to play the card-throwing Cajun mutant in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but scheduling conflicts meant the role went to Taylor Kitsch. Went that film flopped hard and fans didn’t take to Kitsch, Tatum’s name was thrown into the hat again. And in 2014 a Gambit solo film was announced with Tatum in the lead.
This became a passion project for the actor, as he worked for years to get the film made. He approached a string of directors, including Darren Aronofsky and Gareth Evans, and they all turned him down. Eventually, they landed Rupert Wyatt, but after differences of opinion on the direction of the script (Fox reportedly slashed the budget massively after the failure of Fantastic Four) and a schedule clash with another project, the filmmaker left. This started a revolving door of directors joining then leaving the project for various reasons over the next few years.
And then Disney’s takeover of Fox happened and all existing X-Men film plans were scrapped as the mutants now became the domain of Marvel’s Kevin Feige who will almost certainly reboot them for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the near future. Of course, seeing as nothing was ever made under the original Fox banner, there’s nothing to say we won’t eventually get a Gambit movie starring Channing Tatum in the MCU. The actor is certainly passionate and popular enough. If that does happen, let’s just hope things go a lot smoother this time around.
Last Updated: June 2, 2020