OK I Admit It, X-Men"s Gambit Fate Is The Perfect Ending (No Matter How Much It Hurts)

Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for X-Men '97 episode 5
  • Gambit's death in X-Men '97 episode 5 was a deliberate narrative choice to reflect transformative trauma in the world.
  • The show's head director discussed the episode as a trigger event, exploring shared grief and consequences on a global scale.
  • Gambit's sacrifice was a poignant moment of redemption, paying for past sins while expressing his love for Rogue.
Gambit is dead. Long live Gambit. After the tragic events of X-Men '97 episode 5, fans of the iconic Cajun mutant could be forgiven for thinking the bottom has fallen out of their world. That, sadly, is exactly the intention behind the latest Marvel death. In the aftermath of the Wild Sentinels' attack on the mutant haven, the show's head director, and its writer and creator Beau DeMayo have both talked in no uncertain terms about how much the episode was supposed to leave a mark. According to both, we've seen nothing yet.
Gambit's death was a particularly hard thing to take for any of the fans who grew to love the card-slinging Cajun cat after his stand-out part in X-Men: The Animated Series. The outpouring of grief for him was more pronounced than the reaction to Magneto's demise - not least because there's more chance that he actually escaped death - because of how well X-Men '97 episode 5 was written. It felt like Rogue and Gambit were on the cusp of being together at last, and then, with a flash of metal and a huge purple explosion, that was robbed from us all. "I can't feel you," barely felt fitting. We all felt it too much.
2:55 Related Every Death In X-Men '97 Episode 5 The ending of X-Men ’97 episode 5 featured the tragic attack on Genosha by an army of Sentinels, resulting in the deaths of several major X-Men. Why X-Men '97 Killed Gambit The Moment X-Men Animation Really Grew Up Close Whether you like it or not, Gambit died for a very precise narrative reason. X-Men '97's Genosha massacre was - as creator Beau DeMayo put it so beautifully - X-Men: The Animated Series' 9/11 moment; a conscious acknowledgment that the world has seen transformative trauma that it's no longer appropriate to ignore. In place of overt, separate messaging, X-Men '97 chose to reflect that important context by changing the former Saturday morning cartoon fundamentally. DeMayo took to X.com in the wake of the episode's release to share his experiences that had informed the darker turns of the episode:
This episode was intended to be the moment of morbid epiphany for the now-grown-up X-Men: TAS audience, a reflection of the shared traumatic events that can not be ignored as factors of change, even in the brightest moments. Head director Jake Castorena spoke to Screen Rant at CinemaCon to talk about the decision to kill Gambit and Magneto, when the original series had never killed any characters, when discussing the impact of such a trigger event on a wider world of superheroes:
"Nobody died there, those kinds of consequences weren't there. We're turning that on its head on this show. Leading into the consequences as what are the consequences of Genosha, not just for our characters but worldwide? What are the consequences in this world where we've just experienced the mutant massacre, a mutant genocide, the mutant 9/11 equivalent?
The act of something so shocking, something that really can both bring people together and its core or divide them like they've never been before. That's what I would say is for fans to look forward to cameos or what characters may or may not come in. This may or may not become a worldwide issue now, and who is responsible for what and how do you deal? What's healthy? What's not? Who do you turn to?"
Gambit's death, and indeed the rest of the Genosha tragedy was used in X-Men '97 episode 5 as the catalyst to explore how this world will respond to unprecedented tragedy. Without this scale of devastation, the superhero world and the human world would not have the trigger to come together in a moment of shared grief. Essentially, it needed to hurt for it all to really land.
Why Gambit's Death Hurts So Much Years Of Trauma, But It's The Good Times That Really Matter Close As I've already written about, Gambit connected with me as a young X-Men: The Animated Series fan the same way he did countless other X-Men fans, prompting a popular run in Marvel comics. There was something about the cocky otherness of the telekinetic Cajun that just made immediate sense, and propelled him into the heart of the fandom's affections. And a huge part of that successful portrayal came from his dynamic with Rogue and their long-running, unrealized romantic arc.
Gambit was - without wading too far into hyperbole - the 1990s poster boy for the X-Men the way Wolverine has dominated since (without the accidental monopoly factor that came with Logan at times). He was, in actual fact, considerably more like Hugh Jackman's version of Wolverine than the Animated Series' grumpier, older iteration, and that never felt as accidental as Fox might have us believe, if they were asked. He was a lothario, anti-authoritarian without being a dick about it, and he muscled his way into the inner X-Men circle impressively.
Since then, Gambit has been neglected badly. No live-action X-Men movie has done him justice, with most of them simply opting out of using him entirely, and when Grant Morrison came along with his New X-Men vision to reinvigorate the brand, Gambit was left behind along with Cable. Apparently, you can be too cool. And as a Gambit fan, that never made any sense, so to see him given centre-stage again, with renewed interest in his complicated Rogue romance in X-Men '97 was like medicine. And now he's dead, and all is lost.
Gambit Sacrificed Himself So Rogue Wouldn't The Cajun's Death Paid Off His Romantic Devotion Perfectly But then, of course it had to be Gambit. It had to be Gambit for all the reasons above: because his cool was so integral to X-Men: The Animated Series' success. He was part of the lifeblood of the show, and killing him off had more impact than pretty much every other member of the team. Cyclops would have been too easy, given his traditional swerve into melancholy after the Jean/Madelyne Pryor revelation; Wolverine is a passenger (by design), Professor X is already gone, and nobody else, other than perhaps Rogue would have anything like the same narrative impact.
Killing Rogue would have been an interesting prospect, of course, but X-Men '97's incredible episode 5 did something even more interesting: it pushed the Magneto/Rogue/Gambit complication to its extreme point, killed Magneto, and set up Rogue to kill herself through clouded judgment. And the real killer blow came when Rogue lost herself to the pain of watching Magneto die, only for Gambit to literally throw a motorbike at her to take out of the firing line.
He took Rogue's option to die valiantly away from her as the purest expression of his love
That one moment in particular meant Gambit's sacrifice made sense. Gambit couldn't have hoped to beat the Wild Sentinel without getting as close to the giant villain as being fatally stabbed allowed. He could only power up the Wild Sentinel's own appendage if he allowed it to gore him to death. He took Rogue's option to die valiantly away from her as the purest expression of his love. And bear in mind, at this point, Remy believed she'd chosen Magneto over him - an assumption no doubt fortified in his mind by her reaction to Erik's death. He sacrificed himself anyway. There will never be any happiness ever again, to be honest.
The Secret Redemption In Gambit's X-Men '97 Death Gambit Paid For The Red In His Ledger While no character should have to pay for the sins of another multiverse variant, let alone an iteration in an entirely different medium, Gambit's death also came with some atonement. X-Men '97's Genosha attack might have drawn from E Is For Extinction, but it also included a parallel to the massacre of the Morlocks by the Marauders, whose history came to a head in Uncanny X-Men #350 by Steve Seagle, Joe Madureira, Andy Smith, & Tim Townsend.
In that issue, Gambit's role in forming the Marauders and leading the Morlocks to them to be slaughered - admittedly unwittingly - at the behest of Mister Sinister was uncovered. Before his time as an X-Men, Gambit had sought Sinister's help to control his powers as they grew, and Sinister maniulated the Cajun to his own ends. He orchestrated the Morlock massacre because they'd been created using his own technology (from another universe) by Dark Beast and that could not stand.
Gambit was made to pay for his part in the massacre and was expelled from the X-Men for a while, but X-Men '97 flipping his role into an active protector of the Morlocks feels like a belated spiritual redemption for the character, many years later. It may not have been intentional, but it felt right, and adds an interesting secondary level to his sacrifice.
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X-Men '97 is the direct continuation of the popular 1990s animated series X-Men: The Animated Series. Taking up where the third season left off, Marvel's revival brings back famous mutants such as Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Gambit, Cyclops, Beast, Magneto, and Nightcrawler, who fight villains like Mr. Sinister, the Sentinels, and the Hellfire Club.
Cast Jennifer Hale , Chris Potter , Alison Sealy-Smith , Lenore Zann , Cal Dodd , Catherine Disher , Adrian Hough , Ray Chase , Chris Britton , George Buza Release Date March 20, 2024 Seasons 1 Writers Beau DeMayo Directors Jake Castorena New episodes of X-Men '97 air every Wednesday on Disney+


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