I Refuse To Accept X-Men ’97’s Gambit Storyline After 27 Years Of Marvel Mistreating Him

Summary

  • Gambit’s character in X-Men ’97 is being short-changed in favor of a Rogue-Magneto storyline, a disservice to longtime fans.
  • Rogue and Gambit’s complex relationship in X-Men: The Animated Series was a fan favorite due to their chemistry and backstory.
  • Gambit has been consistently sidelined in the live-action X-Men movies, missing out on opportunities for his character to shine.



X-Men ‘97 might have given Cyclops his dues after years of big screen mismanagement, but did it have to come at the cost of Gambit? The telekinetically-gifted Cajun with the drawl as infectious as his soulless black and red eyes is the victim of Marvel’s revival show’s Rogue storyline and I will not stand idly by. Someone has to stand up for yet another mutant whose potential Hollywood has failed to deliver on.

The opening episodes of X-Men ‘97 effectively flipped decades of Marvel Comics – not to mention X-Men: The Animated Series’ long-gestating storyline – by rekindling a lost romance between Rogue and Magneto. Worse still, the compelling boundary between Rogue and Gambit, which forced their chastity – Rogue’s succubus-like powers – was thrown back in Gambit’s face. Magneto – many years older than Rogue but exhibiting an ageless allure – was able to touch her without having his powers drained. And all while Gambit watched from the shadows. This injustice cannot stand.


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Rogue & Gambit’s X-Men History Explained

The Mutant Will-They-Won’t-They Was Big Business For Marvel

Rogue and Gambit were the Ross and Rachel of X-Men: The Animated Series (with the mildest hint of Pepe Le Peu thrown in for effect). Their flirtation was immediate, and their relationship grew across the entire 5 season run of the show. It flourished because of their similarities, but their differences and their conflict added the real spice. I was immediately gripped by them as a duo, just as innumerate other instant fans were. They had darkness in their pasts and were two of the most swaggering animated characters ever conceived.


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Honestly, Gambit in X-Men: The Animated Series was as cool at the time as Wolverine became in Fox’s live-action movies: he was cocky and charismatic, but his enigmatic exterior hid a softer, wholesome heart. It also helped for my formative brain that both he and Rogue dressed like counter-culture adults: like punks who grew up to be superheroes, instead of accountants who’d retired their safety pins for pin stripes. They were the opposite of the straight-laced Cyclops, but had considerably less “grumpy old man” vibes than Wolverine, who was always a bit of a prick.


Over in the comics, Rogue and Gambit shared a similarly tumultuous relationship, defined for long periods by the limitations of Rogue’s powers. They eventually married after Gambit proposed in 2018’s X-Men Gold #30, paying off the long-developed storyline of X-Men: TAS and essentially confirming the epilogue fans never got to see. The mutants with murky pasts had always belonged together, and the comics merely confirmed the obvious after a decades-long game of romantic chess.

Rogue & Gambit’s Key Relationship Milestones

Event

Issue

Date

Rogue & Gambit Meet

Rogue & Gambit #2

February 07, 2018

Gambit begins flirting

X-Men #4

January 01, 1992

Rogue & Gambit’s First Date

X-Men #24

September 10, 1993

Rogue tells Gambit she loves him

X-Men #33

June 01, 1994

Gambit & Rogue’s first kiss

X-Men #41

February 01, 1995

Rogue breaks it off (first time)

Uncanny X-Men #350

December 10, 1997

Rogue & Gambit finally marry

X-Men: Gold #30

June 20, 2018


Crucially, Rogue and Gambit felt like they’d earned the right to be together, after years of their relationship ebbs and flows. They’d overcome revelations from their own pasts, the fact that Rogue’s powers could potentially kill Gambit, and the emergence of love rivals. Their marriage in 2018 came after they were forced – while in deep cover – to undertake couple’s therapy, and only came about so quickly because Kate Pryde and Colossus’ wedding fell apart, providing an opportunity. Naturally, the impulsive pair took it and decades of narrative build came to its beautiful, most fitting end.

Rogue & Magneto Have History Too

X-Men ’97’s Flirtation Isn’t Out Of Nowhere


Now, however, Rogue’s apparently rekindled tryst with the new X-Men leader Magneto, has crumbled the happy ending away. At least temporarily. With X-Men ’97 revealing more of Rogue’s past association with the Brotherhood of Mutants, and seemingly confirming a very unbrotherly relationship with Magneto, Rogue and Gambit’s relationship looks set to be tested once more.

Obviously, it would be wrong to ignore the romantic past of Magneto and Rogue from the comics, which first sparked in 1991 when the magnetic malevolence saved Rogue’s life and they grew close when it was revealed he was immune to her powers. Unfortunately for Rogneto shippers, Magneto then went back to his old ways, having temporarily tried out as a good guy, and Rogue broke things off, horrified.


Beyond that early flirtation, Rogue and Magneto have been together at different times (and in different realities). Most tellingly, in Marvel Comics’ Age of Apocalypse timeline, the pair were married with a child. Elsewhere, Rogue also had a thing with Magneto’s clone, Joseph, but he was rather unceremoniously killed off before they really got to go steady. And in the aftermath of Avengers vs X-Men, they got back together and Magneto proposed (but was, thankfully, rebuffed). They actually have a fairly storied past together, even with questions of whether they were ever a good fit.

In all cases, Rogue and Magneto were never truly meant to be: Rogue and Gambit were the real endgame. Even with 2023’s Marvel Comics storylines throwing more friction at the now-married couple, and the lingering suggestion that Gambit’s past immorality will always be an issue, they persevere. But then, when it comes down to it, of course the Marvel Comics’ version of Gambit would get a happier ending than his screen iteration: because that other guy has been through development hell and back…


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Gambit’s Victimization Continues An Unfortunate Marvel Trend

Considering his popularity in X-Men: The Animated Series, it was always surprising to me that Gambit didn’t make it into Bryan Singer’s first live-action X-Men movie. He was a strong brand, had great potential for a real character performance, and the cool factor was undeniable. But then Fox’s universe adapted Rogue in a very different way and made the potential dynamic between the long-time lovers problematic. Perhaps it didn’t make sense to use Gambit when his mirror was a child…?


In actual fact, Gambit has significant history with the X-Men movies. The first movie almost featured a brief cameo that would have revealed his existence; the second almost showed him as a victim of Stryker’s mutant killing Cerebro 2; and The Last Stand almost used him as a love interest for Rogue. The first two cameos were simply lost to creative preference, while the third was dropped because X-Men Origins was already in the works and Fox wouldn’t use the same characters in both.

In both the novelizations for
X2: X-Men United
and
X-Men: The Last Stand
, Gambit appears. His original cameo in the former is preserved, while the latter introduces him as a new student at Xavier’s school at the end.


Origins’ take on Gambit was misguided at best but showed some potential in a very uneven movie. And then, eventually, Channing Tatum boarded the biggest near miss in Gambit movie history until development hell finally claimed that project as Disney bought the mutant rights back. Since then, all is quiet, other than some rumblings of a Tatum cameo in Deadpool & Wolverine to pay off the lost production.

The idea that the best movie Gambit ever will either be Taylor Kitsch’s charisma-less version, or a cameo joke pointing to a non-existent movie that most modern Marvel fans won’t understand is a tragedy. And in that context, X-Men ‘97 further sidelining Gambit for the sake of narrative drama feels incredibly mean spirited. My boy deserved more.

Is There Still Hope For Rogue And Gambit?

Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing, Or So It Goes

Rogue and Gambit Kissing


There is, of course, the possibility that X-Men ’97 is setting up Magneto for another slip back to his old ways, with Rogue and Gambit then reunited as a couple with the third wheel banished back to Genosha. The comics have already offered precedent in 1991’s Uncanny X-Men #274. Rogue and Magneto team up in the Savage Land after she loses her powers and is able to touch him without draining his powers. Seduced by his saving her life, Rogue begins a relationship with the long-term villain (at this point seemingly reformed), until he goes back to his murderous ways, and she sees him for what he is.

There is very much an easy read of Magneto’s arc in X-Men ’97 that suggests his apparently benevolent leadership of the X-Men team in Professor X’s absence is a nefarious means to an end. He might have avoided a catastrophic dent in human/mutant relations when he showed mercy to the judges and X-Cutioner, but Magneto is no slouch when it comes to manipulation. Sooner or later, Magneto’s beliefs in the inferiority of mankind, and their inherently evil treatment of mutants will likely raise its head again.


With Gambit now aware of Rogue’s bond with Magneto, he will presumably be positioned as the one to undo Magneto and find out the truth. Cue some good old fashioned soap opera drama, and the world could just right itself in favor of Rogue and Gambit. We can only hope.

X-Men 97 Disney Plus TV Series Poster

X-Men ’97

X-Men ’97 is the direct continuation of the popular 1990s animated series X-Men: The Animated Series. Taking up where the third season left off, Marvel’s revival brings back famous mutants such as Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Gambit, Cyclops, Beast, Magneto, and Nightcrawler, who fight villains like Mr. Sinister, the Sentinels, and the Hellfire Club.

Cast
Jennifer Hale , Chris Potter , Alison Sealy-Smith , Lenore Zann , Cal Dodd , Catherine Disher , Adrian Hough , Ray Chase , Chris Britton , George Buza

Release Date
March 20, 2024

Seasons
1

Streaming Service(s)
Disney+

Key Release Dates