Bitching about X-Men comics is a cherished tradition among X-Men comics. Each fan has a unique and deeply held notion of their ideal X-Men comic, even if they can only articulate it by defining what they don’t like, which is easy and fun. I am no exception.
Here, then, is my Least Favorite X-Man, or rather, The X-Man That Sucks The Most. I had to limit my choice to one X-Man, so I didn’t pick Maggot, Bishop, Marrow, Revanche, Stacy X, or Banshee. You heard me: Banshee sucks, although not hard enough to be included on my list.
Who, then, is the X-Man That Sucks The Most?
O God, how Gambit sucks ass.*
I should just leave it at that. What else is there to say? Everybody agrees with me. It’s gone beyond common knowledge, past conventional wisdom, and has become a cosmic law: Gambit sucks ass.
Gambit was originally created by writer Chris Claremont as a dashing mutant master thief during one of the less memorable eras of Uncanny X-Men history, and has evolved over the years into a complex, nuanced three-dimensional douche bag.
Look at him. Look at him! I wish Gambit were real so I could punch him in the throat. Aside from Miss Piggy, Pee Wee Herman, Lucy from Peanuts, Luxwana Troi, E.T., and Mister Furley from Three’s Company, there is no fictional character that inspires as much hatred in me. Carrot Top doesn’t count, he’s all too real.
Gambit, like the other X-Men That Suck The Most, has stupid powers, a hideous character design, and is Uncool on a deep, genetic level.
Look at him. Gambit wears purple body armor, an overcoat, and a partial head condom. He butches up his look with fingerless gloves and a permanent five o’clock shadow, but he still looks like a ballet dancer trying to act hard. The one thing they got right about Gambit’s costume: knee pads.
Plus, his powers! The guy can “charge up” objects, turning them into energy bombs. Gambit carries packs of cards which he charges up and throws at people. That’s right: he throws playing cards made of glowing purple energy.
That is stupid.
How far can he throw those explosive cards, anyway? I mean, I can flick a card about ten or fifteen feet, tops – if I were Gambit, I would have blown myself up a long time ago. Me, I’d pick something more suited for throwing than cards, like tennis balls or marbles or something, but I guess that wouldn’t look as cool.
The other really annoying thing about Gambit is his thick Cajun accent. To convey his accent, writer Chris Claremont wrote all Gambit’s dialogue phonetically, much like he does with the Southern X-Man Rogue. The effect is just as annoying on Gambit – moreso, actually, because I like to imagine Rogue saying, “Sugah, you’re just gonna have ta spank my naughty bottom!” which is a mitigating factor.
Anyway, Gambit’s dialogue is written in such a way that it makes everything he says sound stupid. It doesn’t help that he’s always talkin’ bout gumbo and crawdads and moonshine and de big swamp gator named Ol’ Man Larou dat bit his pappy’s leg clean off, chere, like you rip a wing from de T’anksgivin’ turkey, n’cest pas? See? Don’t you want to punch Gambit, now?
The main reason why I am one of millions of people on this planet who don’t like Gambit is something I call The Richard Gere Factor. I like labeling things.
Put simply, the Richard Gere Factor is a form of typecasting and brand identity that prevents men from identifying/liking a male performer or character. In Gambit’s case, he has allowed his brand to erode from dashing rogue to kissing Rogue – he has become a romantic foil instead of a sneaky ne’er-do-well. He’s more Tom Jones than Indiana Jones.
The Richard Gere factor is named after the man himself. It all started with American Gigiolo** and kept rolling from there. After decades of roles as the love interest in – forgive me – chick flicks, Gere is now more of a lady’s man than a man’s man, and the same thing has happened to Gambit. The male reader or viewer subconsciously perceive Gere and Gambit as rivals, as a threat, and as a result, we hate them for it.
It’s too late for them.
We will never see Richard Gere as one of The Guys, no matter how many movies like First Knight or The Jackal he makes. No guy is going to go see a movie just because Richard Gere is in it. You will never hear this conversation:
Man #1: “Hey, I hear there’s a new movie about ballroom dancing out this weekend. We should check that shit out.”
Man #2: “No fucking way, dude.”
Man #1: “Richard Gere is in it.”
Man #2: “What time is it playing?”
Incidentally, The Richard Gere Factor is the polar opposite of The Kurt Russell Factor. Guys love Kurt Russell; it’s why they keep putting him in movies. Observe:
Man #1: “Dude, we should catch that movie Dreamer, the one about the little girl and the horse that taught a family to love again.”
Man #2: “Fuck no we shouldn’t.”
Man #1: “It’s got Kurt Russell and Kris Kristoferson.”
Man #2: “Let us do this thing!!!”
With Gambit, the Richard Gere Factor is in full effect. The number of panels featuring him enjoying a candlelight dinner or snuggling with Rogue now outweighs the panels in which he kicks somebody’s ass or does something cool. He’s lost it. We just see him as Rogue’s boyfriend, and that’s not a good thing, because they both talk funny and make no damn sense:
* I'm sorry if Gambit is your favorite character. Don't take it personally, I don't think you suck ass. Come here, give me a big hug.
**The exception to The Richard Gere Factor is An Officer and a Gentleman, a movie that rules on all levels.