Valentine’s Day is marked as a special day for couples and it got me thinking about the variety of comic couples that I’ve grown up reading about over the years. One of the most realistic has to be the relationship between Gambit and Rogue because of the journey they’ve been on together. The two X-Men have the perfect definition of an on-again, off-again relationship, yet they’ve both grown and matured as characters. Marvel recently brought out a mini-series featuring the pair and it inspired me to look into the history of Gambit and Rogue’s relationship to see how it’s developed over time.
I was introduced to Gambit and Rogue by watching the ‘90s X-Men cartoon that pretty much defined a generation. Of all the relationships within the show, I remember it being the one I was most invested in because of how Gambit or Rogue couldn’t seem to get it together. Gambit was the suave playboy who could have any woman he wanted and Rogue was the girl who couldn’t be touched because of her powers. A number of factors kept pulling them apart, and it came straight out of the comics.
Before joining the X-Men, Gambit and Rogue both came from dark places. Remy Lebeau was a thief who came off as untrustworthy, while Rogue had operated as a villain with Mystique and The Brotherhood of Mutants. Both of them started off as outcasts, so it only seemed natural that they’d gravitate towards each other. Their first official flirtation occurred in Uncanny X-Men #297 during the Muir Island arc, which is referenced in the latest mini-series written by Kelly Thompson.
The mini-series involves Gambit and Rogue going undercover for ‘couple therapy’ on an island resort where mutants are disappearing. Not only is it an ideal way to bring the two back together, it forces them to confront all the baggage between them. A therapist asks them to describe their first meeting and both of them give contrasting stories. Rogue says their first meeting was on Muir Island. After being under the control of the Shadow King, Rogue couldn’t remember what had happened to her. Gambit tried to comfort and touch her, but she ended up running away because she couldn’t be sure if she was in control of her powers.
According to Gambit, they met the night before and ended up kissing. Rogue reminds him that they were under the Shadow King’s control, to which Remy replies that his love for her was the only thing powerful enough to cut through the mind control. It makes their relationship nuanced because Rogue and Gambit have their own perception of a crucial meeting.
Everyone has their own perspective and depending on the moment, they only remember what they want to. It’s an excellent storytelling device on Thompson’s part and she went into detail about the moment in an interview with IGN.
“I decided to take that approach because I thought how they choose to see things would say a lot about them as characters. So, just to be clear, they don’t remember the same event differently, they just choose to remember two different moments. Gambit chooses to remember the real first meeting, a meeting where they were admittedly being controlled, at least partially, by the Shadow King. Rogue chooses to remember the second time they met aka the first time they meet without the complications of mind control.”
“I think it says a lot about Rogue that she wants things to be less… messy. That she prefers to think of this most significant relationship of hers as starting on their own terms. She perhaps wants to romanticize some things about their relationship, and quite naturally, she doesn’t want her first kiss with the man she ultimately falls in love with, to have not been 100 percent her decision.”
“Gambit on the other hand is more willing to look at things head on, messiness be damned. It doesn’t matter to him if their first kiss wasn’t fully under their control… to him, they wanted each other, even cutting through mind control, which speaks volumes about the power of their attraction. He sees the complications as just more ramifications of the exceedingly complex lives they live as superheroes that every day deal with pure insanity.”
I found Thompson’s explanation interesting because it signifies the differences between both characters. Gambit enjoys living in the moment and making the most of everything in front of him, while Rogue wants to take her time and be in control of every decision she makes. For someone who’s always struggled to control her powers, it’s a natural reaction on Rogue’s part, even when she overthinks. Gambit’s reaction is valid as well because his love is genuine and doesn’t see her powers as an issue.
Not long after Muir Island, Gambit and Rogue started to date, but their relationship was complicated by the arrival of Remy’s ex-wife, Bella Donna. More stress came with the emergence of Gambit’s involvement in the Mutant Massacre and Rogue’s attraction to Magneto. When they got back together again, Mystique tried to drive a wedge between them by disguising herself and seducing Gambit. They split apart again and Rogue eventually entered into a relationship with a repentant Magneto during the X-Men’s time on Utopia.
With so much baggage, it’s little wonder Gambit and Rogue ended up in therapy together, but it makes them a realistic couple. No relationship is perfect and both parties need to see every side of their partner in order to know and accept them fully. People need to take the good with the bad. Gambit and Rogue have both fucked up and been unsure of what they’ve wanted. They needed time apart in order to grow, yet their feelings have remained unchanged. They are friends, teammates, lovers and soul mates who’ll continue to be drawn back to each other until they can finally be happy together.
The complexity of Gambit and Rogue’s relationship makes it wonderfully human and both of them have been featured in The Pop Culture Playlist. Both have different songs that compliment their personalities, which you can read below: