Leaping into action on screen, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, with his Bo staff and trusty deck of cards, is the X-Man who calls himself Gambit. Remy LeBeau hasn’t been given nearly as much attention as he deserves recently, either in film or comics, but he’s one of the most charming and complex characters you’ll ever find; and at one time, the most popular. Behind the devilish smile of this ladies’ man, though, is a tormented soul searching for redemption, which is what makes him so likeable, despite his many, many faults.
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As we’ve watched him stumble on that redemptive path, we’ve seen some pretty awesome moments from him; moments which, as you’ll see, highlight his many qualities — both good and bad. That’s what Gambit is all about: being inexplicably caught somewhere in between.
15. WHEN HE SAVED STORM
One of his most unforgettable moments was when we first got a chance to see Gambit in action. In “Uncanny X-Men” #266 (written by Chris Claremont, illustrated by Mike Collins, Josef Rubenstein and Brad Vancata), we see Gambit aid a young, nearly powerless Storm after she fell three stories into a pool. The enigmatic figure was silent at first, revealing his charming mannerisms only when he saved Storm a second time from a feral puppet of the notorious Shadow King.
Though his staff and cards didn’t make an appearance in this one, it was the perfect introduction to Remy. He’s mysterious, dangerous and it’s easy to see why a lot of people have a hard time trusting him; and yet, why they are inevitably charmed by the charismatic and confident persona this Cajun wears to mask his motives and past. It also shows him to be an honorable man, saving Storm and repaying her for saving him as they evade the hounds and wrath of the Shadow King and his possessed goons.
14. COURTING ROGUE
One of the things Gambit is known for is his deep and ever-evolving relationship with Rogue. Heck, it was part of the fundamental foundations of the characters in “X-Men: The Anmiated Series!” One of the first few times we really saw him trying to court the lovely lady was in “X-Men Vol 2” #8 (written by Scott Lobdell and Jim Lee, with artwork by Lee, Art Thibert and Joe Rosas), when the two prepared themselves a small picnic beneath a tree. Their little moment is interrupted by the intrusion of Bishop, acting on his suspicions that Gambit is responsible for the horrible future he’s seen and lived.
If you needed any proof that Gambit has a way with women, (or people in general, considering Bishop is also persuaded to stop fighting), it’s this issue of “X-Men.” By the end of their picnic and the explosive brawl, everyone is laughing, including Rogue, whose boysenberry pie, which she had worked so hard on, had just been destroyed. Most of it is nervous laughter of course, but it still counts! It shows how great a partner he is for Rogue, seeing as how he seems to know her so well and is able to keep her smiling even when things go wrong (or even when he’s acting like a damn child).
13. HIS FIRST DATE WITH ROGUE
His less-than-stable romance with Rogue is part of the reason we know so much about Gambit. No matter what happens, he’s proven himself to be committed and loyal to her. That much was evident in “X-Men” #24 (written by Fabien Nicieza, illustrated by Andy Kubert, Bill Sienkiewicz and Paul Becton), when he assured Rogue (whose real name he still didn’t know) that it was okay if they couldn’t touch and that there was more to their relationship than just the physical, all during a lovely horse-drawn carriage ride through the night.
It’s moments like those that show us why some folks want him and why others want to be him. Behind all the Cajun allure, there’s a solid foundation or honor and heroism. He means what he says and he doesn’t just deceive people to get what he wants; he’s not so simple, despite what he sometimes makes people believe. Despite how mischievous he might appear to those who don’t know him, he’s got a heart of gold.
12. HIS BATTLE WITH SPIDER-MAN
There are plenty of other reasons to love Gambit other than his softer side. He’s also an explosive force to watch out for in battle. For those of you who aren’t familiar, his mutant powers allow him to charge any inanimate object with kinetic energy, potentially allowing it to fly through the air and explode on impact. Spider-Man found this out in one of Gambit’s best fights, which took place in “Web of Spider-Man” #113 (written by Terry Kavanagh, with artwork by Alex Saviuk, Stephen Baskerville and Bob Sharen). Ol’ Web-Head attacks Gambit, seeing nothing but a common thief. Somehow, Gambit holds his own and even manages to surprise Spidey in battle.
Keep in mind that Spider-Man has taken on larger foes than Gambit and come out on top. It’s great seeing Gambit fight someone like that and manage to keep his cool, completely used to being wrongly accused of being a bad guy (when he isn’t too busy actually being a bad guy, that is). It also shows us that even with his name attached to the X-Men, trusted allies to many, Gambit isn’t exactly trusted among heroes.
11. WHEN HE BEAT WOLVERINE
If his skills in a fight were still in doubt, you should know that Gambit once took on Wolverine in “Uncanny X-Men” #273 (written by Chris Claremont with illustrated by Jim Lee and a horde of artists)… and won. It was a danger room fight and the two weren’t actually trying to kill each other, but it was an impressive feat nonetheless. By the end of it, Gambit had Wolverine beneath his Bo staff and had proven his skills to the rest of the X-Men.
It’s a pretty great fight and we get to see what Gambit is capable of, which is quite a lot since they both remark that they’ve been fighting for quite a while. While Gambit can’t match Wolverine in strength, he makes up for it with his superiority in agility, skills and tactical thinking. He’s pretty smug about it in the end with a cocky, “Bang, you dead” line, but that’s kind of why we like him, too.
10. WHEN HE SAVED HIS BROTHER
The mystery that surrounds Gambit lies in his reluctance to open up often about his past. Unlike most others who use the tragedy in their lives to motivate them to do good, Gambit’s past is something he’d prefer to forget altogether. Sometimes his life of thieving leads him to some tragic moments, as Sabretooth reveals in “X-Men” #33 (written by Fabian Nicieza, illustrated by Andy Kubert and Matt Ryan). The issue showed us a lot about Gambit and it brought him out from the sidelines to really stand out as a character.
Her name was Genevieve, and Gambit had been seducing her in order to get to the a pendant, L’Etroile du Tricherie. Sabretooth, wanting the pendant for his employer, kidnapped both Genevieve and Gambit’s brother, Henri, dangling them from atop Notre Dame. Gambit had no choice but to hand over the pendant. Sabretooth, being Sabretooth, dropped both of his victims anyway and instinctively, Gambit saved his brother. With her dying breath, Genevieve revealed that she truly loved him and if he’d asked, would have given him the pendant anyway.
9. HIS CAJUN SPICE
One of Gambit’s best depictions can be seen in “X-Men: Evolution,” where he’s everything we’ve come to expect and more from the Ragin’ Cajun. In the episode “Cajun Spice,” (written by Michael Merton and Greg Johnson), we see a 19 year old Gambit, enthralled by Rogue and seemingly eager to make her smile. For the most part, it’s a ruse. He wanted to take her to New Orleans to help him rescue his good-for-nothing father.
His feelings for Rogue weren’t all disingenuous, but he felt he had to use whatever charm he could because he didn’t think anyone would willingly help. That’s him in a nutshell: manipulative and mischievous, but ultimately all because he’s trying to do the right thing. It’s especially understandable in this series, seeing as how most of the characters are misguided teenagers trying to find their way in life. Gambit is exactly that, and while he seems wholly independent and capable in the series, much like his comic book counterpart, he’s one of the few who needs guidance the most.
8. HIS ONE-LINERS
Gambit is a witty guy and it shows even in his lamest jokes. You have to love them, though, despite (or even because of) his humor. In the last of the two-part episode “Days of Future Past” (written by Robert N. Skir and Marty Isenberg), Gambit comes across Mystique, posing as him in order to assassinate Senator Kelly’s aide. Along with charged up cards, he throws a barrage of small little jokes like, “Surprised to see me? I know I am” and “Maybe you’re not as tough as I look!” These “dad jokes” should make you laugh and bury your face in your palm at the same time, but for some reason, coming from him, we (at least) couldn’t help but smile.
Even in the midst of battle, at the climactic event that would lead to the destruction of society as we know it, Gambit keeps enough of his cool to keep those jokes coming, and somehow focuses enough to maintain his agility and cat-like reflexes in combat… against a professional like Mystique, no less!
7. WHEN HE ALMOST CHANGED HIS NAME
It’s not fair when someone else gets better treatment when they’ve done things that are equally as bad as the things we might have done. It happens, though, and all you can do is laugh like Gambit did in “Uncanny X-Men” #337 (written by Scott Lobdell with artwork by Joe Madureira among others), when he questioned why the X-Men were so willing to call Magneto “Joseph” and welcome him into the group almost as though he’d always been one of the good guys. “Maybe I should just start calling myself somethin’ different. James. ‘Gambit’? No, I’m James.” He mutters to himself.
But Gambit just wants to be seen as Gambit. After all, no one wants to be a judged for a shady past they didn’t choose to play a part in. He’s no different; and yet, as we’ve seen, people misjudge him, distrust him and underestimate his integrity, even though he’s proven himself to be a stand-up guy time and time again. You can’t help but empathize with him, which makes that little moment one of his more charming ones.
6. WHEN HE OUT-SHINED MAGNETO
Rogue and Gambit are a couple and nothing can change that, not even the reality-altering events that led to the Age of Apocalypse storyline in 1995-1996. In that alternate universe, Rogue ends up being Magneto’s lover after he discovers a way to essentially make her safe to touch. But Gambit’s heart belongs to her and he’s not going to just give up without a fight. You can see his efforts almost pay off In “Astonishing X-Men” #1 (written by Scott Lobdell, artwork by Joe Madureira and a few other talents); just before what appears to be a suicide mission, he finds Rogue and the two have a moment culminating in what would have been a kiss, were it not for Blink’s timely interruption.
It seems you just can’t fight fate… or Gambit’s infamous seductiveness, for that matter. It’s also great seeing him get this moment because it feels right, as opposed to Magneto and Rogue, which to us, always felt just a little bit creepy. It’s a rare piece of equilibrium in an alternate timeline that seemed wrong all over.
5. WHEN HE OUT-FOXXED MYSTIQUE
With all this talk of his charm, it’s understandable for anyone to think that he might not be as loyal as he wants people to think. Mystique was just one of those people harbouring those suspicions so, being Rogue’s adoptive mother, she felt a need to test her daughter’s partner the only way she could. In the guise of a mutant named Foxx, Mystique interrupted Gambit’s shower in “X-Men Vol 2” #171 (written by Peter Milligan, artwork by Salvador Larroca, Danny Miki and Allen Martinez) and tried her best to seduce the confused Cajun. He rightly refused her, telling her that he loved Rogue. Whatever base fires she’d stoked were easily extinguished with a cold shower.
It’s definitely one of Gambit’s funnier moments and it’s also one of his sweetest. He’s definitely a loyal man and his power to resist such weaponized temptation is admirable. Given the chance to indulge what were undoubtedly small fantasies, he’ll adhere to his code of honor — the same code that leads him to do some respectable and bizarre things.
4. WHEN HE WAS A HORSEMAN OF APOCALYPSE
Apocalypse is an ancient mutant, possibly the first. He’s among the greatest threats the X-Men have ever faced and oftentimes he’ll take one of them or another powerful mutant as one of his horsemen. Unlike the vast majority of them, Gambit once gave himself willingly to Apocalypse’s forces to become the Horseman of Death in “X-Men Vol 2” #184 (written by Peter Milligan, illustrated by Salvador Larroca and Jason Keith). Now, before you cast judgement… he didn’t do it with any evil intentions. In his own way, he did it because he was devoted to the X-Men and of course, to Rogue.
While it wasn’t the smartest thing he’d ever done, he did it for the right reasons. Throwing yourself into something that warps you both physically and mentally to protect those you care about is unquestionably badass. His only mistake was underestimating how much Apocalypse’s machine would change him. He ended up fighting those he fought for ,though ultimately, he was able to fight off the effects of Apocalypse’s machine so, all’s well that ends well?
3. X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
People tend to focus on the tragic mistake that was Weapon XI in the 2009 film, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” (directed by Gavin Hood), as well as the poorly written plot. However, it wasn’t all bad. There were a few gems buried beneath the muck. Taylor Kitsch’s portrayal in the film wasn’t perfect, but it was far from terrible and at the very least, he showed respect for the comic book character. It showed in his performance as the renegade mutant, running from Stryker and his cruel experimentation.
Introduced to us from the shadows of a small New Orleans club, Remy LeBeau gave us the essence of Gambit within the first five minutes of his scene: a cool, fox-like demeanour and the near-demonic look of his mutant eyes (with obvious differences) and the right amount of light-heartedness. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a step in the right direction and with Channing Tatum being cast as Gambit in the solo film, we need a standard to hold it up to. So far, there isn’t anything better than Taylor Kitsch’s portrayal.
2. FIGHTING CAPTAIN AMERICA
As spectacular as his victories are and as often as he does succeed, Gambit can be too confident sometimes. He can often underestimate someone or something, and it usually comes back to bite him in the Ace of Spades. “AVX: VS” #2 (written and illustrated by Steve McNiven with artistic help from John Dell and Morry Hollowell) pits Gambit against Captain America as the X-Men and Avengers battle to decide the fate of Hope Summers and the Phoenix Force. Gambit cleverly uses his powers to detonate Cap’s suit and assumes that’s all it would take; to his shock, however, Cap arises in a tattered costume and leaps forward, taking Gambit out with one punch.
It’s still a great couple of panels to read through because it highlights Remy’s courage, confidence and cleverness, as well as his flaws. There was a part of us who hoped that Remy would win and throughout the fight, as usual, he seems confident that he will. Confidence is key but as he shows us, so is forethought and caution.
1. WHEN HE FOUGHT GLADIATOR
If seeing him fight Spidey, Cap and Wolverine wasn’t enough to show you how bold and skilled he is as a fighter, then maybe this will. Let’s preface this with a little bit about the Shi’ar imperial guard known as Gladiator. His strength has been known to surpass that of most other Marvel heroes and villains, he’s got heat vision, microscopic vision, x-ray vision and a bunch more; he’s also pretty resistant to telepathic assault, his body can withstand the force of a supernova and… look, basically, he’s a god amongst the heroes of Earth.
And yet, Gambit took him on in “Uncanny X-Men” #276 (written by Chris Claremont, illustrated by Jim Lee, Scott Williams and Joe Rosas) to try and save the X-Men from Gladiator, who was under the control of “Xavier.” All other options exhausted, Gambit throws literally everything he can at his opponent, including all 52 cards in his deck. Apparently it was enough to defeat the being that was able to fly through a star like it was nothing. The entire issue actually depicts Gambit perfectly, bringing out the super-powered renegade we all love seeing and giving us a glimpse of how powerful he can be.
What are some of your favorite Gambit moments? Let us know in the comments, mon chere!
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