These days, it seems hard for me to believe that there was a point where I did not like the work of Channing Tatum.
For several of his early movies, I felt like he was a good looking guy with no chops at all, and it didn't seem to me like he was ever going to loosen up. He had some buzz around him when he was in “A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints,” and he was certainly busy as the next few years unfolded, starring in films like “G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra,” “Dear John,” “The Eagle,” and “Step Up 2: The Streets,” but it wasn't until 2011 that I started to come around to what he was doing. “The Dilemma” is a fairly awful film, but Tatum shows up late in the movie and suddenly things start to come to life. Also that spring, “Haywire” came out, and I thought Tatum was great in his few scenes, taking a beating from Gina Carano like a champ. Then in 2012, the back-to-back punch of “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” made it clear that we had all under-estimated this guy.
He auditioned for the role of Gambit back when they were gearing up on “X3: The Last Stand,” but the role went to Taylor Kitsch, who was already being talked about as a star on the rise. Now that Hollywood has decided that Kitsch didn't work, Tatum's finally in the right position to step in and claim the role as his own.
The story broke today that Josh Zetumer has been hired to write “Gambit,” a solo spin-off film. Rumors have Tatum making an appearance in “X-Men: Apocalypse” as the character first, then jumping to his own movie almost immediately.
One of the smartest things Tatum did was set up his own production company, and I think “Magic Mike” is a hell of a calling card for them. “Magic Mike XXL” is in production now, and I'm curious to see what else they end up producing. Right now, Tatum seems to totally get his persona right now, and knowing he's wanted to play Gambit as long as he's been acting, I'm excited to see him dive into the world of “X-Men.”
In the meantime, “Jupiter Ascending” is in theaters in February 2015.