Gambit: Who is the King of Thieves?

Gambit Has an Ace up His Sleeve

[Gambit has blown up a giant robot]
Jubilee:How did you do that?!”
Gambit:With style, p’tite. With style.

X-Men: the Animated Series “Night of the Sentinels” (Season 1, Episode 1)

A man walks down the street and sees thugs threaten a florist. She looks resigned as they stuff money into a bag. His red eyes narrow. No one makes a girl sad on his watch. He draws a playing card from his pocket and tosses it into the air. The Ace of Spades glows pink and explodes like a grenade in mid-air.

The gang members run in fear while the man charges towards them. He pulls a rod from his jacket and presses a button, extending it into a quarterstaff. A flurry of blows easily defeats the disorganized criminals. 

The last crook knocks a vase filled with roses into the air as he falls. The man smoothly stows his weapon, catches the bouquet and offers it to the florist with a roguish grin. She blushes. Gambit leaves a few minutes later, a phone number drying on The Queen of Hearts. 

Gambit is one of the most popular X-Men. This thief has fought his way from the bayous to outer space, leaving behind bitter foes and swooning women. So who is he? How is a thief a hero? Why is he the X-Men’s secret weapon? Let’s find out, mon ami

Cut the Cards: Gambit’s Backstory

Gambit: “I be the thief, chère… and there you go off stealin’ my heart. Can’t be keepin’ any promises, p’tite. If dis thing involves you and Belle… it’s got to involve me!”

Rogue Vol. 1 #2

Gambit debuted in The Uncanny X-Men #266 in 1990. He was created by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee.

Remy was abandoned as an infant because he had red and black eyes. He grew up as a street thief before being adopted by Jean-Luc LeBeau, leader of Louisiana’s Thieves Guild. Remy excelled as a thief and learned he had the power to convert potential energy into explosive kinetic energy.

The Thieves Guild had a long rivalry with the Assassin’s Guild. Remy LeBeau was forced into an arranged marriage with Bella Donna, granddaughter of the Assassin leader. Within hours of the wedding, he was forced to kill her brother in self-defense and exiled. Remy became a thief for hire called Gambit.

Gambit’s powers grew stronger over time and became nigh-impossible to control. He turned to geneticist Mr. Sinister, who blocked the majority of his powers. In return, Gambit assembled a team called The Marauders for Sinister. He didn’t know they were brought together to massacre the Morlock mutant community. Gambit could only save one child, but managed to keep his involvement a secret.

Gambit ran across Storm, who was suffering amnesia and had turned to thievery. He protected her from several enemies until her memories returned. A grateful Storm invited Gambit to join the X-Men.

Shuffle: Gambit’s History

Gambit:Ideals, mes braves, they’re easy to embrace. An’ I t’ank you for dat, at least. It’s dealin’ wit’ reality that’ll take some work. For all of us.”

X-Men #109

The X-Men didn’t know what to make of Gambit. He was a useful teammate, but his flippant, lady-killer attitude annoyed several members. He began dating Rogue, even though Remy was unable to safely touch her because of her powers.

Gambit’s involvement in the Morlock Massacre was discovered when Rogue accidentally absorbed his memories. The X-Men were disgusted and abandoned Remy in the middle of Antarctica. Sheer luck and a friendly passing Mutant saved Gambit’s life. He became morose after Rogue betrayed and abandoned him along with his own repressed guilt.

Rogue eventually found Gambit and they reconciled. He became an infrequent member of the team, going on his own adventures unless they needed him. Gambit returned to the Thieves Guild and redeemed himself for the faux pas that caused his exile. After completing several difficult heists, he was crowned the King of Thieves.

Gambit and Rogue were invited to the wedding of fellow X-Men Shadowcat and Colossus. Shadowcat got cold feet at the last moment, but Gambit salvaged the party by proposing to Rogue. After one ceremony and a twenty year courtship, they earned their happy ending.

Royal Flush: Gambit’s Powers and Personality

Rogue:What’s the deal with you an’ cards?”
Gambit:Well, it’s like havin’ 52 explosives tucked into one lil’ pocket. [draws one] I always save her for last.”
Rogue: “The Queen o’ Hearts?”
Gambit: [kisses the card] “My lucky lady. She’s gotten me out of a whole lotta jams.”

X-Men: Evolution “Cajun Spice” (Season 4, Episode 6)

Remy Lebeau has trained in martial arts, parkour, staff fighting, and infiltration. He earned the King of Thieves title by proving himself the best thief on Earth. This gives him an army of thieves and infiltrators to assist the X-Men. Gambit is reluctant to use his authority and leaves day-to-day operations to Jean-Luc.

Gambit’s mutation turns potential energy into kinetic, making whatever he has touched explosive. He prefers using smaller items to limit damage. Playing cards are his signature weapon, cheap, numerous, concealable, and entertaining. Gambit’s full powers were curbed by Mr. Sinister and would be apocalyptic if unleashed.

Lovable rogue perfectly describes Gambit. He’s quick with a joke and goes out of his way to charm women, but he knows when to turn that persona down and get serious. Gambit carries a lot of baggage from his exile, connection to the Marauders, and psychological need to hide it with a devil-may-care mask. He only shows the truth to Rogue and his closest friends.

The Actors Who Play Him

Chris Potter and Tony Daniels – X-Men: The Animated Series, Spider-Man: the Animated Series
Alessandro Julianni – X-Men: Evolution
Phil LaMarr – Wolverine and The X-Men
Taylor Kitsch – X-Men Origins: Wolverine
A.J. LoCascio – X-Men ‘97

Didya Get All That?

The X-Men’s playful but dangerous card sharp

Image: Wolverine (voiced by Cal Dodd) and Gambit (voiced by AJ LoCascio) in Marvel Animation’s X-MEN ’97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL.

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