After years of speculation and false starts, Stephen King’s magnum opus The Dark Tower is finally coming to the big screen. Meshing fantasy, spaghetti western, science fiction, horror, and more, King’s Dark Tower books are the pinnacle of his work, and the quest to bring this multiverse-spanning epic to the big screen has gone on for many years. But now it’s real, it’s happening, and it’s coming soon. Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger, will pursue the man in black across the desert on February 17th, 2017.
It’s hard to say how King’s epic will land, because it’s quite unlike anything that’s ever been in theaters before. However, the complicated mythology of The Dark Tower is made real by its all-too-human collection of characters, a cast from multiple worlds and timelines. Not all of the characters in this list are likely going to show up in the first Dark Tower movie — which, according to King will start out in “the middle of the story, rather than the beginning” — but if the first movie is a hit, we hope that all of these fascinating personalities will make their way to the screen at some point.
So, without further ado, here at 15 Characters We Want To See In The Dark Tower Movies:
Without the no-nonsense instruction of Cortland “Cort” Andrus, there would be no Roland Deschain as we know him today. Though only seen in flashbacks, Cort plays an important background role in the books, as his advice is often referenced by an older Roland, whose stories of him inspire fellow protagonist Eddie Dean to refer to Cort as sounding like “the drill instructor from Hell.”
Decades before the story of the Dark Tower books begin, within the land of All-World lies the ancient city of Gilead, and this city’s knights are the gunslingers: trained from childhood, noble-born, dedicated to preserving order and preventing the collapse of civilization. Roland Deschain goes on to become the last Gunslinger, but as a young boy, he is only one of several that is trained by Cort.
Cort’s training involves physical abuse and forced starvation, refusing to allow his gunslingers-in-training to show even the slightest hint of weakness. A muscular, scarred figure who never laughs, the teenager gunslinger aspirants can only finish their training by beating Cort in a one-on-one duel, armed with a weapon of their choice. In his challenge, the teenage Roland brings a hawk named David, which proceeds to claw out Cort’s eye, losing its life in the process. This victory allowed Roland to claim the sandalwood guns and thus become a gunslinger, but even decades later, he continues to look back on this event as “his first of many betrayals.”
14. Cuthbert Allgood
Roland’s childhood friend and fellow gunslinger, Cuthbert, is everything that the reserved, cold, and obsessive Roland is not. Casually humorous, carefree, and imaginative, Cuthbert is also deeply observant, with a perfect memory for faces, names, and physical mannerisms, and possesses a highly sentimental side that was not beaten out of him during his harsh gunslinger training. Roland and Cuthbert, together with fellow young gunslingers Alain Johns and Jamie De Curry, comprise Roland’s first ka-tet, a term in Mid-World that means “a group of people summoned by ka.”
Unfortunately, this tight group of friends is undone when Gilead falls, and all of them but Roland perish. During the battle of Jericho Hill, Cuthbert is mortally wounded by an arrow to the eye, shot by the demonic sorcerer sometimes called the Man in Black — a figure known by many names, including Marten Broadcloak and Randall Flagg, but always present in Roland’s life in one form or another. Cuthbert dies in Roland’s arms, and the gunslinger often remembers him in the years afterward, as he searches for the Dark Tower and looks back on everyone he has lost.
13. Susan Delgado
Long before the world burned, the young Roland met — and tragically lost — the love of his life, Susan Delgado, when he was only 14 years old.
A tomboy who often wears her father’s clothes, Susan’s life is shattered when her father dies. Forced by her aunt to become a paid mistress for the town mayor, with the intention that she will sire and raise his child, Susan reluctantly goes along with it. However, her relationship with the mayor is halted when she falls in love with Roland, losing her virginity to him. When Roland and his ka-tet are framed and imprisoned for the mayor’s murder, Susan breaks them out. Unfortunately, this results in her — and Roland’s unborn baby inside her —being captured and burned at the stake.
This death rocks the teenage Roland to the core, not only because of the loss of Susan, but also because, when forced to choose between saving her or pursuing the Dark Tower, the destination he must reach in order to save all of existence itself, he chooses the tower.
So what is this Dark Tower, exactly?
The answer is as mysterious as it is complex. Legend says that the Dark Tower is the body of Gan, All-World’s deity, an unseen and all-powerful entity that is said to have rose from the depths of the Prim, and then spun all of the many universes from his navel. Gan is known by many names, including The White.
The Dark Tower, then, is the fixture that holds all of these many universes in place. Planted in End-World, it does this through its six mighty beams, all of which are only visible by their impact on the surrounding terrain. Each of these beams ends in a portal, creating a total of twelve, and these are protected by twelve Guardian Animals. The only universe in which the tower can be entered is All-World. Now, a shadowy being known as the Crimson King threatens to destroy the tower, and Roland’s journey to enter the tower’s doors and rise to the top is a quest to prevent the collapse of all of existence, a mission to which he has sacrificed everything he ever cared about.
11. The Crimson King
The Crimson King is a lurking presence throughout the Dark Tower books, an entity of chaos and ambition that, if he is not stopped by Roland, will cause the end of everything that we know. In the religions of our world, we know the Crimson King as Satan, but he is also Ram Aballah, the Red King, the Lord of Discordia, and more; all this is only a small piece of a far bigger picture. The Crimson King’s ultimate goal is to tear down the Dark Tower, thus ending existence as we know it and plunging the universe into chaos, at which point he believes he will be able to remake everything in his image.
All evil beings serve Ram Aballah, whether knowingly or not, including the Man in Black. The Crimson King is now imprisoned on one of the Dark Tower’s balconies, where he awaits the arrival of the last gunslinger.
10. Jake Chambers
This brings us to the present day story, where Roland — who has now been pursuing the Dark Tower across the dusty remnants of Mid-World since the world moved on — encounters an eleven year boy from a world much like our own. Jake Chambers, born in New York City to a successful television advertising executive, finds himself on Mid-World, where he eventually forms a close bond with the terrifyingly determined gunslinger, and even grows to become his adopted son.
Jake possesses a reserved, quiet temperament that is much like that of Roland himself. Jake quickly becomes part of Roland’s new ka-tet, easily learning how to shoot, survive, and pay attention the many strange clues that surround them at all times. Jake’s natural psychic ability is referred to as “the touch,” and it’s an ability that becomes very important as the ka-tet moves through their journey.
Jake is one of the characters who has been confirmed for the movie, where he will be played by Tom Taylor.
Oy may be Jake’s pet, but his importance as a member of the ka-tet cannot be underestimated. Oy is a billy-bumbler, a creature on Mid-World that resembles a cross between a raccoon, a dachshund, and a woodchuck, with a temperament that combines the loyalty of a dog with the understanding of a human. Bumbles are able to somewhat mimic human speech, which results in Oy calling Jake “Ake.” His name, Oy, is based on his response to Jake’s calls of “Here, boy!”
Oy and Jake possess a psychic bond, and are connected at the hip from the moment that they meet. Their closeness mirrors that of any boy and his dog, but Jake and Oy’s connection also extends to telepathy, and even the ability to switch bodies.
8. Father Callahan
Another member of the ka-tet is actually pulled from a different Stephen King novel altogether. Father Donald Callahan, the priest with shaky faith that played a role in King’s 1975 vampire novel Salem’s Lot, finds new life within The Dark Tower series.
Once the priest of the small Maine town of Jerusalem’s Lot, Father Callahan’s already wavering foundations are shattered when he is brutalized by the vampire Barlowe, his crucifix rendered inert against the vampire by of his lack of faith. Fleeing to New York, the alcoholic ex-preacher plunges deeper and deeper into depression, until he finds new life working at a homeless shelter, falling in love with his male coworker Lupe. Gaining the ability to sense vampires all around him, Callahan begins killing low-level vampires, catching the attention of the Crimson King, who sends the so-called “Hitler Brothers” to kill him and carve a swastika on their forehead. Before they can finish carving — they only get so far as slicing in a cross — he is rescued, but soon after is ambushed by vampires and escapes by jumping out a window, committing suicide.
It’s at this point where Callahan wakes up in Mid-World, where he has an uneasy encounter with the Man in Black. He soon finds himself in the village of Calla Bryn Sturgis, where he begins a new life and teaches his faith to the locals, still guilt-ridden over his past failures and wanting to make amends. It is here that Roland, Jake, and the ka-tet first meet him, and he becomes one of them.
7. Blaine the Mono
Only Stephen King could dream up a psychopathic living train with an affinity for riddles.
Meet Blaine the Mono, whose appearance is foreshadowed by a fictitious children’s book called Charlie the Choo Choo that depicts a living train with a friendly smile that can’t be trusted, and also unknowingly referenced by Jake when he writes “Blaine is a pain and that is the truth.” Blaine is one of the most oddly memorable characters of The Dark Tower, one of the scariest antagonists, and a must-have for the movie series.
Fully cognizant, pink, and capable of going 900 miles per hour, Blaine possesses an awareness of other worlds, even doing John Wayne impersonations. Once the primary public transit for the city of Lud, Blaine becomes demented when the other train, Patricia the Mono, commits suicide after Mid-World begins to decline. Lonely, insane, and broken, when Blaine is boarded by the ka-tet he attempts to commit suicide.
6. Eddie Dean
A heroin addict and cocaine mule, the 23-year-old Eddie Dean we first meet in New York City is a long ways from healthy. Eddie idolizes his older brother, who happens to be the one that got him addicted to heroin in the first place, and has been stuck in a low point for a long time. Eddie nonetheless has a good heart, a quick wit, and a sense of humor that resembles that of Roland’s childhood friend Cuthbert. When Roland yanks Eddie to Mid-World against his will, Eddie is forced to withdraw from his heroin addiction, and though he initially harbors deep resentment for the gunslinger because of this, he soon joins him in his quest for the Dark Tower, and falls in love with Susannah.
Eddie is one of the most beloved, flawed, and human characters of the Dark Tower mythos, and it’s actually somewhat surprising that he hasn’t been announced for the movie. For now, it seems like they’re holding off until a sequel. Whenever they do bring Eddie in, though, Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul has expressed a lot of interest in the role…
The final member of Roland’s ka-tet is actually multiple people in one body. Living in 1964 as Odetta Susannah Holmes, a protestor during the civil rights movement, Odetta’s life up until that point is defined by two terrible injuries from her childhood: first, the subway incident that robs her of her legs, and then a traumatic brain injury that fractures her mind into two distinctly different personalities. One of these is the stiff, judgmental Odetta, and the other personality is Detta Walker, a no-nonsense psychopath with a crafty imagination, an iron will, and a deep inner hatred.
When she is brought to Mid-World, both of these personalities become integrated into a more balanced personality, who rechristens herself Susannah. Susannah falls in love with Eddie Dean, and not letting her disability hold her back, becomes an invaluable member of the ka-tet, able to call on both of her former selves at will. Eventually, a fourth personality named Mia enters the picture, but that’s another story…
Susannah’s darkest hour is when she is impregnated by the demon of the doorway. Susannah’s egg is fertilized with the seed of both Roland and the Crimson King, and she is then forced by Sayre — a sinister character who will be played by Jackie Earl Haley in the film, though Susannah, like Eddie, appears to be sitting out the first movie — to give birth to a demonic spider-child that is named Mordred Deschain, this name being one of many connections that the Dark Tower series has to Arthurian legends.
The gunslinger’s demonic child, Mordred, possesses spider legs, a fearsome appetite, and the ability to devour human beings and absorb their knowledge and experience in the process. Mordred, if he fulfills his fate, is destined to kill Roland and bring down the Dark Tower, a terrifying destiny that Roland will have to prevent.
3. The Man in Black
Though the Dark Tower universe has many villains, perhaps none are as charismatic as the Man in Black. With a warm, smiling, cheerful demeanor contrasting against a coldhearted, arrogant, megalomaniacal soul, this dark sorcerer first appeared in Stephen King’s epic post-apocalyptic novel The Stand, and has since gone on to show up in many of Stephen King’s novels, Dark Tower or otherwise, traveling between realities with an endless list of names: Randall Flagg, Marten Broadcloak, the Covenant Man, the Walking Dude, the Ageless Stranger, and his original name, Walter.
As an immortal being possessing untold dark powers, Randall Flagg has been the ultimate thorn in Roland’s side since his early years, orchestrating many of the terrible events within the gunslinger’s life. As Walter O’Dim, Flagg has an affair with Roland’s mother, aids in the destruction of Gilead, murders Cuthbert, and has committed unspeakable atrocities across an infinite array of timelines. Though a servant of the Crimson King, Flagg possesses ceaseless ambition, and he hopes that his path will eventually take him all the way to the top of the Dark Tower, where he will become God.
The Man in Black will be played in the movie by Matthew McConnaughey. Those who have seen the first season of True Detective will have an inkling of what to expect, and for others, well… get ready for a villain you’ll never forget.
2. Roland Deschain
Of course, the indisputable center of The Dark Tower is our hero, a man named Roland Deschain, son of Stephen and Gabrielle, 30th generation descendant of Arthur Eld, and All-World’s last gunslinger. Since a young age, Roland has pursued the Dark Tower, and he will stop at nothing to find it. Armed with two ancient revolvers with sandalwood grips, a grim composure, and obsessive determination, Roland is a force to be reckoned with. He’s a man that, while always the protagonist and always dedicated to his task for the right reasons, possesses an unapologetic ruthlessness that renders him as possibly the most terrifying character of the entire series.
However, though his obsession with finding the Tower reaches the point of addiction, Roland is humanized by the friendship of his ka-tet, the memories of all that he has lost, and the wisdom to correct himself when he is wrong. Roland is a character not big on small talk, and quick to the point when action is necessary. Though often mysterious and sometimes hard to pinpoint, Roland is easily one of the most fascinating characters that Stephen King has ever written. He will be played by Idris Elba in the film.
1. Stephen King
… and that is Stephen King himself, not the real life author, but the character of Stephen King. Believe it or not, a fictitious depiction of Stephen King himself plays a huge role in the later Dark Tower novels, wherein the nature of the books themselves and their connection to the real world is explored. In the Dark Tower universe, it turns out that King is not actually the creator of the books, or any of the characters: he is simply a servant of Gan, and his work is simply a channel for the actual events that occur in All-World.
Real-life scenes from Stephen King’s life come to play an enormous part in the Dark Tower‘s narrative, as the author himself must come face to face with the characters he has created. When and how Stephen King will play into the plot of the Dark Tower movies has yet to be seen, but we’re willing to bet that this postmodern twist is at least a few movies down the line.
What other characters do we need to see in the Dark Tower movies? Let us know in the comments!