A gamble–analysis of Gambit’s character in X-Men

Someone actually requested I write this, that’s a first.

And I’m happy to oblige.

Like I said in my post about Rogue, check it out here if you haven’t: When you know you’ll hurt people who love you…, I hadn’t heard of Gambit before watching this show.

At first I didn’t think I’d like him, I’ve seen the flirty, player boy character one too many times on shows and movies to really be into it anymore.

But as with the other characters, this show surprised me by making him seem real, and likable, and he’s actually my second favorite male character.

I’d have to rank the characters as:

Rogue

Wolverine

Gambit

Storm

Beast

And of course, Nightcrawler holds a special place in my heart as the two time side character. It’s impressive how characters that show up only twice in the whole show were still iconic to fans, that’s some good writing.

Suck it Avatar. We don’t need to make them almost die to be relevant.

(Kidding, I like Avatar too, guys. I just don’t like Jet…)

Anyway, so about Gambit.

Full disclose, I’ve never read any X-men comics, I honestly probably won’t just because there’s so many comics, I wouldn’t know where to start to get the really good versions of them and I can’t spend that kind of money hunting through it all. Spiderman was my peak comic book experience. Nothing else has really felt as cool since.

So I have only the show’s limited focus on Gambit to go by.

But the show does a good job with the other characters, so I’m going to assume he’s depicted pretty accurately and analyze him.

I was asked specifically to talk about his hang ups.

Now that be a tricky question, no?

Forgive my poor Cajun accent in writing.

The fact is, like many characters, Gambit is not much for talking about his issues. I think he thinks he’s the strong, silent type.

I actually like that it’s not exactly true, and his idea of himself is probably not actually his character.

Gambit turned out to have a surprisingly soft, compassionate side, even from episode one where he takes it upon himself to protect Jubilee after only just meeting her. He can be a bit too flirty and rude at times to Logan and the others, but he’s always there when they need him.

Ironically, Logan complains about Gambit’s attitude, but acts the same way, must be one of those like forces repel things.

The show doesn’t hint at any thing between Gambit and Rogue until the episode “The Cure” where Logan drops the bomb that Rogue kind of likes him.

Could have fooled me up till then…the show kind of just threw ships at us, but luckily, they were usually likable…usually *cough, JeanxScott is the worst ship *cough.

Well, naturally, Gambit takes that as an invitation to start flirting with Rogue every single scene they’re in together.

Of course she finds it annoying, but secretly charming, because he’s not afraid of her.

I mean, sure, she wants to slap him in that over-confident face sometimes, but, it’s refreshing.

And of course, it leaves us more mature audience members asking ourselves “But why isn’t he afraid?”

It’s not even that Gambit is impervious to the dangers of Rogue’s power, he gets zapped one episode and is kind of mad about it, but it doesn’t stop him from hitting on her afterward.

Oddly enough, he seems to drop the whole issue of being able to touch her at all, and just keeps pushing for a relationship of some sort.

I don’t know if this was stupid or genius on the show’s part, sticking the flirty ladie’s man with the untouchable woman, and saying “hey, this is a great idea!”

My sister says they are kind of a thing in the comics too…I’d say the same irony is there.

I think that some of the appeal to Gambit, might very well be the danger. He seems like that type of guy. Other girls are too easy for him to get, Rogue’s a challenge, both with her power, and with her constant rebuttal, but not quite refusal.

And some men like a challenge, right?

(Wish I could find one)

I think I said this before, but how funny is it that his name is Gambit, and it’s a gambit to try to be close to someone like Rogue.

She’s got a lot of baggage, even if her power wasn’t an issue.

They do get one kiss one time when her power has been neutralized by some device, (it doesn’t last), and Gambit says he loves her, something he never told anyone before, according to him.

This is an interesting detail.

In his backstory episode, some blond b-word claims that Gambit has been with a lot of women

(To which we all say “we know!”)

But “loves only her”…which is not true, but okay, they were engaged once…given that Gambit left her at the alter and ran away, I guess it wasn’t that real.

Maybe he did lover her in a way, but in his words, they were both young, and he was scared.

Well, he sure stepped it up, huh? Went form crazy blond woman to country girl who’s not able to touch people…don’t know if that’s brave or delusional.

I do ship it, for the record, but I mean, anyone ever wonder how in real life this stuff would work?

Gambit at least seems to think that whatever he’s got with Rogue is special.

Rogue however, doesn’t really seem to trust his words. As she continually rebuffs any attempt to get closer to her. She’s willing to sort of date at a distance, but not to commit.

You’d think Gambit would be the one who could commit, but honestly, he seems pretty devoted, all things considered, she’s the one who can’t settle down with the idea.

Gambit lets Rogue have her space, because being a stalker wasn’t cool in the 90s, I take it. But he’s still persistent.

So the question for all of us is, how serious is this guy?

That’ the question about Gambit at all times though. No one in the X-Men really seems to trust his intentions. They all turn on him as soon as Bishop accuse him of assassinating someone. Though Gambit clearly had no plans to do so, and was framed. But the others seem to feel their suspicion was justified, even so, since he never tells them anything about himself.

I mean, if my life history was being part of a gang war/cult that worshiped some forest goddess and paid a weird tithe to her, and almost married the opposition gang’s nut job…I might hesitate to explain that to the X-Men, too.

Though Storm would probably get it, she was worshiped once. Actually, she says she knows Gambit the best, maybe that’s the reason. She feels normal to him.

Rogue stands up for Gambit, but is not especially confident in him.

Gambit is kind of hurt by this, but doesn’t seem to hold it against her so much as he just accepts no one will trust him and he’s on his own.

Actually, Gambit believes in no one and nothing, and doesn’t trust people, as Logan says, or Scott, I forget who was being the biggest prick in that episode.

In the episode with Nightcrawler (which is by far one of the best in the series, I unbiasedly think), Gambit professes that there’s no God and nothing out there for anyone.

I find that funny since he used to pay tribute to a goddess, but then again, maybe he thinks God is indifferent because of that weirdness. That spirit kept them warring against each other, and hurting each other, maybe they’re better off on their own, in his mind.

It’s kind of sad really. Gambit has been burned by his family, as his brother betrayed him and jumped him into the gang. His ex was nuts and tried to off his friends and his brother, and their deity was kind of vindictive…

And then the X-men are suspicious of him too.

Maybe his perspective that he’s a loner makes sense.

So why does he pursue Rogue? Is it because he knows it won’t happen, so he’s essentially alone still?

My theory is that at first, yeah, that probably was it. It was exciting, and there was low emotional risk in his mind because of her “issues” with being close to someone.

I’m trying to think of a PG way to say that they can’t have sex…and I can’t, because I know everyone is thinking it even if I don’t say it.

It is kind of a roadblock though, what is marriage without sex right? And romance for most people has to involve it at some point.

However…

I think Gambit actually fell for Rogue for real along the way.

She is pretty easy to love, even as a fan. I mean, she’s sweet, feisty, and caring, what’s not to like about Rogue. Her crippling insecurity is her biggest problem, but it is understandable, and she’s not what I’d called Toxic over it. Just confused and scared and sad.

I’m surprised Gambit was the only one, honestly, but I guess the show thought Jean was the one who’d have multiple men after her…because she’s got the personality of your average pick me girl in a Wattpad fic…or nay other rom-com…

Go figure.

Actually, it is harder to write a triangle around a girl who’s actually got a personality, because it’s easier to see who’d be a bad match for her, people won’t get behind a ship so easily if the chemistry is in questions. Look at Avatar. The only thing fans complain about is how that show did ships. (For good reason, not a single one has chemistry except possibly Sokka’s.)

Gambit probably just flirted with Rogue at first because, well, that’s what he does. But sometimes you pretend something long enough, you do it for real. Rogue is just easy to like…and then before he knew it, it was real.

That’s my guess as to why he didn’t get bored of it.

I mean think about it, she’s fun to tease, but any man who didn’t really like her would get tired of teasing a girl who he’s never going to be able to get in the you-know-whats of.

But no, it just goes on forever, apparently.

And one has to wonder what point Gambit sees in it, honestly.

I’m not sure he really thinks that hard about it, actually. He seems like a guy who acts more on impulse most of the time, and habit. I get the feeling that in his mind, he likes who he likes, and it don’t matter really what the obstacle or realistic expectations of it are.

But there are moments where he shows a bit more real emotion about Rogue, that indicate he’s not just kidding.

He’s quick to worry about her, quick to notice if anything is bothering her, and quick to get jealous.

Jealous of what, really, what can she do? She can’t cheat on him.

But he seems actually jealous of her affections and attention.

I think it’s interesting.

Rogue raises all kinds of issues about our own insecurity, if we pay attention to her character. And that’s cool, I really like that.

But Gambit raises the question of what really is and isn’t love. What are we really in a relationship for?

You know, the Bible doesn’t give sex as the first reason to institute marriage. That sounds kind of wrong, actually.

I mean, who gets married just so they can have sex.

I really hope no one reading this answered that in the affirmative…

Sure, sex is nice, and important…but it’d be a stupid thing to base your relationship off of.

Honestly, I think it’s great being a virgin and just not having the whole sexual compatibility thing on the table, I get to focus on what really matters, not just hormones.

I’m sure none of us believe Gambit is in that exact position.

But who knows, maybe he’s had enough of superficial relationships, and is realizing they just don’t make you happy, they aren’t real, they don’t satisfy.

Rogue is too much of a challenge to have it not be real, if your’e going to keep pursuing her. Maybe that’s the appeal.

Maybe he likes the idea that someone has his back. It’s rare to find any friends as devoted as the X-men, and Rogue in particular never would abandon a friend. Sometimes to her own detriment, but there it is.

We all like to feel special, Gambit may also find it flattering to be preferred by someone who has no reason to impress anyone. I mean, I can’t lie, it would make me feel pretty special too.

To be honest, I think what makes the ship so interesting is simply that’s it’s not that easy to figure out.

I think that it’s more real, because there’s probably so many factors that could go into it.

The thrill seeking aspect of it is balanced out by there also being a trust aspect.

One line Gambit does say to Rogue that’s interesting is early on when she reminds him, none too politely, that she put someone in a coma the last time she kissed them:

“Maybe it’s worth it, no?” He says, with a very punch-able face, I have to say.

I can’t really blame Rogue for going off in a huff after that.

Still, if you unpack it, isn’t that the question?

Rogue has no self worth whatsoever when it comes to love. She believes she’s not worth anything, no risk, nothing.

I have to wonder, even if she lost her power, would she accept herself? I think she’d still push people away. She’d find some new reason.

I did the same thing. Without my father around to bully me, I found other ways to look down on myself.

Gambit seems like the last person to take love seriously out of the team, but maybe, just maybe, he’s kind of hit on something.

Maybe it is worth it.

He might be cocky, arrogant at times, and often stubborn…but, love isn’t really about being perfect.

It’s not always the most innocent people who actually understand love the best, sometimes if you’re too nice, you can’t accept other people have flaws, and you don’t know how to love them.

Church people know this struggle.

But on the other hand, if you’ve hit the branches on the tree of poor life decisions…then maybe you’re a little easier on people.

I think the show raises the same question to the fans as Rogue has.

Can we really trust Gambit? Is he for real? Or is it just some joke.

Rogue seems convinced she’ll wake up from it one day, and will look foolish for ever trusting it.

Sure she likes him, but she doesn’t want to love him, because she gets hurt then.

But it also hurts to be strung along. Gambit is not one to complain, but…

Come on, it would bother anyone.

It’s sort of like Rogue is saying that just love is not good enough, she won’t be satisfied without the touch aspect being resolved. Though she claims to be okay wither herself, we all know it’s not true.

Like I said in her post, how important is touch to a romantic relationship?

After I wrote it, I was reminded of the stories I know about people who are paraplegic, some all over their body, and who are still married.

People who have cerebral palsy, or some other disease, often can’t move normally.

There was that famous guy who had no legs and no arms, but got married and had a kid.

I’ve heard that Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife weren’t able to be intimate after a point because of his disease, and Eleanor said that there was still love even without that.

Hormone driven fans are often obsessed with sex and kissing and touching in shipping. Rogues’ a real challenge, most people probably just prefer to fix her problem, in fan fiction, and not deal with it.

I think that her problem is probably fixable, based on the show’s logistics.

But I think that’s not really the point.

Rogue is not going to get love just because she can be touched. If someone can’t love you without that, they don’t really love you. That’s the hard truth.

Sure, they might like you and want to get with you, but that’s not love.

In our over-sexualized, lonely culture, it’s hard to imagine any love without sex.

Or some form of touch.

Anime kind of has this stigma both about kissing and being intimate until the relationship is further along, and also about even using the words “love” and showing care for someone.

We’re left starved both emotionally and physically from watching it. I think that’s why fans rush to the perverted side of it so quickly.

Where you have no emotional connection, the sexual seems like an appealing substitute…but it’s empty too.

Love is not about sex, and it’s not about giddy feelings. That’s a nice part of it, sure.

But I kind of like that with Gambit and Rogue, it really can’t be about that. Even if, someday, her problem was resolved, it still couldn’t have been about that.

If Gambit showed hesitancy, we’d all have to hate him, even if we understood it. Not many men, or women, would want a part of that.

And it is sad…but, as I said, real life couples have to forego physical intimacy sometimes.

It’s almost a crime in people’s eyes now to suggest that maybe, just maybe, it’d be okay not to have that.

I mean, if you met the love of your life, they suited your personality, they were loyal, caring, and funny…but they just couldn’t have sex…or touch you…would you abandon them?

I remember story I heard on reddit of a guy who married a woman who was asexual…that is, she could have sex, but didn’t enjoy it the way other people do.

He said it was almost a deal-breaker, but he was glad he stuck with her. They had a great relationship, and she’s a loving wife…that aspect is just not as prevalent, but he’s learned to live with it. She has to make sacrifices too.

I’m not saying I’d choose it on purpose, but you know, maybe it’s is worth it.

It would be weird to want that, upfront, but it’s not weird to accept it, if you love them.

I’m not sure I can say for sure if Gambit is deep enough to think that out, but he does hint at it.

The guy who does’t trust anyone is still willing to gamble with love.

I feel like he’d be the most shocked if it ever worked out.

In the end, Gambit and Rogue are too similar. They are drawn to each other because they both think no one will love them.

What keeps them hooked is that the other person never quite ruins it. They rebuff, and argue, but they stick together, and drop hints, and there’s something deeper there.

It’s not really the tease of romance so much as it’s the draw of being loved itself that has these two caught.

It’s like “what if they did love me?”

It seems like a 10 to 1 chance against it, that it would end well.

But Gambit is willing to roll those dice, because really, what does he have to lose? The X-men only get a few chances in life for some things, you’d better take them.

Rogue maybe doesn’t see it that clearly, but she’s still pulled in by it.

They are also opposites, Gambit is willing to risk it all because he sets little value in his own safety, Rogue is not wiling to risk anything because she exaggerates the importance of her own danger to others, and thinks she’s worse than other people.

Sticking them together was a crazy idea because they repel with their hangups, but they also attract.

And, it’s a gamble, really, trying to see how it would end.

I tend to always think erring on the side of love is better. If we don’t have love, our lives are empty anyway. Love is risk, but it’s more of risk not to have it.

But some people don’t feel that way.

I think the show itself couldn’t commit for that reason, and I don’t know if the comics ever did.

Superhero fiction tends to be afraid of committed love, something about it seems alien to superheroes, their lives are dual, masked in deception, usually.

The X-Men were always an oddity in Marvel, because they didn’t hide their identities, and live regular lives managing their powers. I don’t think there’s a DC parallel to it.

The X-Men could have relationships because they acted more human. Superman needs no one, Batman refuses to need anyone, and many others just have too many issues and bad luck.

X-men can have diversity in how tragic their stories are and how hopeless they seem, so you can root for them with more hope.

But in the end, it’s still a superhero show.

The main thing is how we’d answer the question ourselves.

What part of love do we value the most? Why do we want companionship?

How we answer that is what makes for a good foundation for romance.

Less of a buzz maybe, if you pick true companionship, but it lasts longer. And it helps more.

And with that thought, I think I’ll end this, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

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