Next to Wolverine, Gambit has become one of Marvel’s most popular X-Men since his first appearance in The Uncanny X-Men Annual #14 in 1990. With his glowing red eyes, unique sense of style (anyone that can rock a magenta jumpsuit, brown trench coat, and occasional sweatband deserves props), and wicked sense of humor, he truly embodied the X-Men ethos of celebrating individuality and freedom from conformity. Born Remy LeBeau in New Orleans, Louisiana, Gambit had a rough upbringing fueled by fighting and thieving. Were it not for concerned mentors like Jean-Luc LeBeau of the Thieves Guild or later, Professor Xavier, he might very well have been the villain that he was originally created to be.
Aside from his immense powers over kinetic energy almost being used for evil, there are many other juicy tidbits of information even true fans may not know about the Ragin’ Cajun that serve to explore the mental and moral qualities that make him distinct. The writing associated with Gambit’s character has at times painted him like a whiny pushover, ready to tuck his tail between his legs and bolt at the first sign of trouble, and at other times like a brooding anti-hero that ultimately makes the right call when the people he loves are in danger. What never seems to change is his smooth-talking ways and his penchant for throwing exploding playing cards. But beyond the obvious facts about the famous X-Man, there are other surprising revelations that even true Gambit fans will be glad to learn.
20 HE WAS AN ORPHAN
Mutants are rarely born into the homes of understanding families. Gambit was born with glowing red eyes, making him look rather demonic, and all but ensuring that his family would give him up for adoption as soon as possible. Gambit has no memory of his birth parents, instead only of the life he lead as a member of the Thieves Guild.
Stolen from the hospital as an infant, Gambit became a member of the infamous cohort of rogues after a life on the streets. His pseudo-father figure and mentor was Jean-Luc LeBeau (who gave him the name Remy Lebeau), and took him under his wing and into his family.
19 HE DIDN’T START OUT THROWING CARDS
A bo-staff, a trenchcoat, a garrish magenta jumpsuit -- some things are visually synonymous with Gambit. His main weapon of choice, a deck of kinetically-charged throwing cards, are one of the biggest signifiers of his character. However, when he first premiered in the Uncanny X-Men Annual #14 in 1990, his main weapon of choice was small throwing daggers.
Fans have speculated that throwing daggers were too mundane for a character who's a combination of attributes: martial artist, motorcyclist, superb cook. Since he has a fondness for gambling in his home state of Louisiana, what better weapon that something as innocuous as a deck of cards?
18 HE’S A GREAT COOK
Gambit has picked up a number of interesting skills over the course of his nomadic life, particularly in his younger years being part of the Thieves Guild in New Orleans, Louisiana. One of his skills involves being a great cook, which he endeavors to show off whenever he has the opportunity.
He was once able to create a delicious meal out in the middle of the desert, which both thoroughly surprised and impressed Professor Xavier. He declared it was just one of his many secrets. He also did a fair amount of cooking for Rogue during their romantic courtship, particularly Cajun dishes.
17 HIS CHARM IS LITERALLY HYPNOTIC
Gambit possesses some pretty devastating powers as far as mutant abilities go -- he takes energy from literally any object and convert it into kinetic energy. While that might seem super handy, his secondary ability, hypnotic charm, is actually just as useful. Though he doesn’t have the same mental powers as Mystique, Jean Grey, or Emma Frost, he can subtly influence the minds of those around him.
This is particularly potent when it comes to the ladies. Since he can make anyone agree with what he says and be swayed by his suggestions, it leads to him walking a fine line between embodying a charming rogue and a manipulative slimeball. However, the second a person becomes aware he’s using it, the power becomes useless.
16 HE GOT MARRIED TO PREVENT A WAR
For most fans, Gambit has only had one major lady in his life, that being his fellow X-Men Member, Rogue. However, Gambit was once promised to another woman when he was much younger. Most of the time, arranged marriages are less than ideal if true feelings don’t exist between the two parties, but in Gambit’s case, his marriage to Bella Donna Boudreaux would save lives.
Taken in by the head of the Thieves Guild in New Orleans, Louisiana, Gambit owed them his life. When he met Bella Donna, she was the daughter of the head of their rival, the Assassin’s Guild. It was suggested to Gambit the marriage would bring peace between the two guilds, and so he agreed, though it would not last.
15 HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH ROGUE IS ALWAYS COMPLICATED
When Gambit first joined the X-Men, there was an instant connection between him and fellow member Rogue. He pursued her with harmless flirtations, and she rebuffed his advances. He wasn’t yet aware of her mutant ability, which was literally to drain the powers (and often the life force) of anyone who made contact with her.
Over time, their relationship grew deeper than casual coquettishness, but it was always dampened by the fact that Gambit and Rogue couldn’t even so much as kiss without devastating consequences. Out of fear of hurting him, Rogue often broke it off, but their love was strong enough that it always brought them back together again. They’ve been going strong for almost three decades.
14 HE HASN’T REACHED THE FULL POTENTIAL OF HIS POWERS
Some fans may dismiss Gambit as a side character in the Marvel Universe and some may even argue his place in the X-Men as a major player, and yet his powers aren’t even at their full potential.
Gambit was born an Omega mutant, which means that he has access to the height of his mutant powers at birth -- he merely needs to focus on how to apply them to see their benefits. He can charge in-organic or organic materials with kinetic energy to use at will, making him god-like in his mutant abilities. Yet he holds off, fearing for the safety of his fellow mutants.
13 HE WAS ONCE THE HORSEMAN OF DEATH
The villain Apocalypse in the X-Men chronicles rears his ugly head whenever he feels that the mutant population is not only at an all-time low, but also at an all time disadvantage. The X-Men may have felt that Gambit decided to join Apocalypse and his Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse due to being neglected by the X-Men as a whole, when in reality Gambit felt that infiltrating the Four Horsemen from the inside was the better plan to preserve their mission of perpetuating mutant equality.
One thing Gambit never counted on was the mental transformation needed to become Death. He struggled with the transformation process, remembering his love for Rogue and the future of the X-Men, resulting in him ultimately rejecting the role.
12 HE’S TAKEN ON GLADIATOR (AND WON)
Marvel has a few cosmic pwerhouses that are universally known to wreck worlds on a daily basis. Kallark, aka Gladiator, is one of those powerhouses. He has the strength, speed, and agility of a villain like Thanos, and isn’t to be underestimated.
Gambit has encountered Gladiator several times over the course of his time with the X-Men, but more often than not it’s their assistance that prevent Gladiator from smashing him. In The Uncanny X-Men #277, however, it’s Gambit’s turn to shine. He unleashes an entire deck of playing cards into Gladiator’s gut and it’s enough to incapacitate him. It was a great way for the Ragin’ Cajun to prove his worth and abilities.
11 HE’S TURNED ON THE X-MEN BEFORE
Remy Lebeau has always been something of a free agent and lone wolf. Even as a part of the X-Men, he often clashed with fellow members and their morality. This could be because his formative years were spent being a part of the Thieves Guild in Louisiana, and not being led by the same moral compass as his peers.
During the events of the "Messiah Complex", when a newborn mutant baby was prophesied to bring about great change, both the X-Men and Mr. Sinister wanted to lay claim. Gambit sides with the villains in this case, being led to believe (by Mystique) that kidnapping the baby would bring Rogue out of a coma.
10 HIM AND WOLVERINE HAVE A RIVALRY
Since the very first moment that Gambit became a member of the X-Men by helping an amnesiatic Storm, he’s never seen eye-to-glowing-red-eye with Wolverine. No other X-Man has had the same problem with Gambit to the extent Wolverine has, which has resulted in many duels in the Danger Room (the training facility within the X-Mansion).
The two X-Men have had a rivalry of sorts for many years, fueled by the fact that they’re two of the most popular members of the X-Men. Occasionally they’ve been paired together, as in Wolverine/Gambit: Victims where the solved a Jack the Ripper style mystery, simply because their professional competition was so amusing.
9 HE WAS NAMED AFTER A STRATEGY IN CHESS
When Gambit was first introduced as a character in The Uncanny X-Men Annual #14, it was revealed that he was named after a chess move. A “gambit” (from the ancient Italian word “gambetto”) refers to when one player sacrifices a low piece (such as a pawn) to gain the advantage in a future endeavor.
It makes sense for his character, since he’s always been a bit of an outsider to the X-Men team and has turned against them more than once (sometimes sacrificing people he considered expendable). What doesn’t make sense, is why he doesn’t throw kinetically charged chess pieces.
8 HE’S A FAN OF STAR TREK AND HARRY POTTER
Who knew comic book characters were as nerdy as their fans? These days, there’s a certain amount of fourth wall breaking that occurs in comics, and a sort of self-awareness when it comes to cultural zeitgeist that serves to make superheroes feel more like they’re a part of the world their fans live in (like Batman taking selfies while on a date with Catwoman, etc).
To this end, Remy LeBeau is a big fan of two popular franchises: Star Trek and Harry Potter. He was able to meet his heroes of the USS Enterprise during a Star Trek/X-Men crossover (one of many), which was as exciting for Gambit as it was for fans of both teams. Gambit has never been afraid to celebrate his individuality.
7 HE WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE A VILLAIN
Remy LeBeau began his life on the streets of New Orleans as a petty thief, abandoned by his parents at birth due to the strangeness of his red eyes. The Thieves Guild took the boy in but failed to carve a path of hatred and vengefulness into him, instead replacing it with love and acceptance.
Originally, Gambit was intended to be a villain of sorts, with his origins tied to the supervillain Mr. Sinister. Now, Gambit, much like fellow X-Man Wolverine, is an antihero. He is charming but also selfish, and his loyalties are perpetually in question. Gambit is too passionate and nuanced of a character to simply be stereotyped as a villain despite his sordid past.
6 A VERSION OF GAMBIT ONCE BLEW UP THE WORLD
Many superheroes in the Marvel Universe have versions of themselves running around in an alternate timeline. These timelines have versions of Earth that factor into specific storyline arcs. Gambit’s New Sun arc focused on his defeat of The Phoenix and becoming ridiculously powerful, to the point where he could kinetically charge an object with just a look.
When Gambit is at the height of his powers, as he was on Earth-616, there’s few who can stand against him. After defeating The Phoenix, he is responsible for the destruction of every other living thing on the planet, including the love of his life (Rogue) and all his fellow X-Men.
5 HE WAS PUT ON TRIAL FOR A MUTANT MASSACRE
Gambit has a dark past filled with secrets about unforgivable things. One such secret was revealed to the X-Men (much to Gambit’s shame) pertaineding to his involvement with Mr. Sinister, a nefarious supervillain, who called on Gambit to return the favor he’d done him some years prior when Gambit had difficulty controlling his powers.
This “favor” involved Gambit agreeing to lead a team known as the Marauders, which included Wolverine’s rival Sabretooth, into the tunnels of NYC to slaughter the Morlocks, a team of mutants living in the sewers. Gambit tried to stop the massacre once he realized what it entailed, but he could only save one mutant child from the horrors.
4 HE CAN CHANNEL KINETIC ENERGY FROM NON-MOVING OBJECTS
Gambit’s mutant power involves using the potential energy from any objects and transforming it into kinetic energy, making it so volatile that it explodes. From a practical point of view, Gambit shouldn’t be able to “charge” up a non-moving object.
Kinetic energy can be transferred from one thing to another through motion, but never created from nothing. It’s mass and speed dictate the amount of potential kinetic energy is being used. Charging up something as simple as a light playing card should mean it simply poofs out of existence. In some ways, Gambit’s powers require a little suspension of disbelief.
3 HE’S RESISTANT TO PSYCHIC PROBES
Due to the large amount of kinetic energy that surrounds his body at all times, Gambit is resistant to any sort of psychic or mental probe because of its electrostatic field. This is handy, given the sheer number of telepaths that he’s surrounded by (Rogue, Jean Grey, Emma Frost, etc).
Professor Xavier has reached out to read Remy’s mind on occasion, and compared it to holding onto snakes. Gambit’s innate ability to repel intrusion from telepaths makes the task of probing his thoughts that much harder for them. He even goes so far as to keep certain thoughts knocking around in his head specifically to throw telepaths off the scent.
2 HE’S SUPER RICH
While it’s true that many members of the X-Men had considerable wealth to their name, and that most of their needs are covered by the affluence of Professor Xavier, fans might be surprised to know Gambit is richer than they think. Once, when he was being targeted by the villain Bullseye, he wrote him a million dollar check to not end him.
Being a master thief, Gambit has been able to smuggle away quite an impressive nest egg for himself. This is helpful when he invariably decides to distance himself from the X-Men, considering that at the X-Mansion, Professor X ends up paying for everything.
1 HE’S HEAD OF THE INTERNATIONAL THIEVES GUILD
From the time he was a boy, Gambit and thievery have always gone hand in hand. A young boy on the streets of New Orleans never thought that the fateful picking of Jean-Luc LeBeau’s pocket would result in him being ushered into the Thieves Guild and acquiring a family as well as a vocation.
Jean-Luc not only gave Remy the LeBeau name to uphold, but he also trusted him with a varying amount of responsibility. Even after he had left the guild and joined the X-Men, when a new leader was needed, he stepped up and became the leader of the NOLA chapter of the International Thieves Guild.