The Dark Tower series of books is the magnum opus of American author Stephen King. The story follows the ultra-surreal mission of a gunslinger named Roland Deschain to find the Dark Tower, a legendary monument fabled to be the binder of all universes.
Few other literary works manage to pack fantasy, science fiction, horror, and Western themes into one entity– perhaps this is why the eight-book series has been so loved by fans since its inception in 1998.a
A Dark Tower film has been rumored for years, but an adaptation of the 4,250-page series always seemed to fall out of different hands. J.J Abrams planned to tackle a Dark Tower film project in 2007, as did Ron Howard in 2010, but the projects both fell apart.
The Watchmen-level of touchiness around adapting a perceivably “unadaptable” film had fans believing they’d never get a Dark Tower movie. Until 2015, when Sony Pictures announced that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘s Nikolaj Arcel would be helming a project for a 2017 release.
While the casting for the film is fantastic, there are a few things fans definitely want to see from the book translated well into the film.
[Major spoilers ahead for those who haven’t read the books!]
Check out 15 Things We Need To See In The Dark Tower Movie Adaptation.
15. The Iconic Opening
“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”
This is the opening line from The Gunslinger, the second novel in the Dark Tower book series and (arguably) the best and most memorable entry in the saga.
Not only should the opening statement stay the same, but we also need the ending that it predicts to stay the same as well.
Will this actually happen? It’s looking a little unlikely. The ending could likely be a little too depressing for today’s audience. It could also prove disappointing for those who haven’t read the series to not see the inside of the eponymous Dark Tower. However, to remove it or change it entirely would be a disservice to the work it is adapting.
14. More surrealist western, less superhero blockbuster
We get it– the film cost around $60 million to make and needs to make money. To do so it needs to appeal to a very mainstream audience.
The saga of The Dark Tower is a (sort of) superhero story with elements of magic, drama, and protagonist-vs-antagonist battle. However, it isn’t Superman. It isn’t Spider-Man. It isn’t Batman, either. It’s a dark story with themes and storylines not typically found in your usual major comic book superhero biopic or comic book universe. Stephen King isn’t Stan Lee. To force the series into the comic book cinema mold could rob The Dark Tower of its intended mood and purpose.
This is a pretty big risk, especially in a time where comic book movies dominate the film world every year. The Dark Tower trailer also read for some as a PG-13 superhero blockbuster, which is a bit worrisome.
13. The violence
The Dark Tower is an incredibly violent series. Perhaps too violent for kids back in the day who picked up the book at the age of 12 or so.
Violence is a major part of the series. If the gunslinger is involved, we need to see some gunslinging. While badass shoot-outs and a proper adaptation of Roland’s insane precision with his Sandalwood Guns are definitely needed (and very likely to happen), there’s whole other level of violence in The Dark Tower series that could be difficult to adapt for the big screen. Especially if the filmmakers announce a more child-friendly rating.
The Dark Tower isn’t aimed at children, or teenagers, or even weak-stomached adults. The Dark Tower movie, however, will need to make that cash– and appeal to a bigger audience range than the books intended. This could mean softening the gritty, dark, gory aspects of the writing.
12. A trust that the audience can “get it”
“I do not aim with my hand; he who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
I aim with my eye.
I do not shoot with my hand; he who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
I shoot with my mind.
I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father.
I kill with my heart.”
That’s some poetry most people can get. It’s also an excerpt from The Gunslinger.
Simplifying of the complex plot of The Dark Tower or “dumbing” down the more poetic and conceptual aspects of the series could be detrimental. This is something that happens often in Hollywood, unfortunately. Producers tend to think audiences are unable to grasp even somewhat complex themes. The Dark Tower is packed with more complex themes than most series.
We’re really hoping the studio has trusted the film’s audiences to “get it” and built the film up accordingly.
11. That signature dreamlike tone
It’s inevitable– any book adaptation will lose some details or some details will be changed. There’s no way around that, especially in such a massive work like The Dark Tower. You couldn’t even fit one of the eight books into a two-hour film perfectly.
We’ll probably all be crossing our arms and moaning about this or that being left out no matter what happens. However, the tone of the book really needs to be kept a major part of the movie.
It’s a surreal work. Surreal things happen. To not maintain a sort of dreamlike tone to the movie would take it from a brilliantly unique saga to two hours of nonsensical events. We need the redemption, the relationships, the landscape, the vibe of the whole thing to be neatly presented.
10. The Rose
The importance and nature of the rose in The Dark Tower novels can be a bit confusing. However, what readers of the series do know is that the rose is the second nexus of reality, connected to the behemoth Tower.
If the rose were destroyed, which is what the Crimson King and the Man in Black want to do, the Tower would fall and reality would be vaporized. The rose’s protection is crucial, and Roland Deschain with his ka-tet spend much of the series trying to do so. The rose is important, and it would be wise to include it in the film.
The trailer provided glimpses of our universe’s New York, where Roland had to venture to in order to find the rose in the series. It looks like it will have its place in the film after all.
9. A confrontational ending and (possibly) more films
We know for a fact that the movie isn’t adapting the Mohaine Desert pursuit from the books. Rather, it will be a continuation of King’s book series. However, we know that Roland will still be tracking down the Man in Black throughout the film. A final face to face confrontation would be awesome– and it would set up an opportunity for more films in the franchise.
It looks like this need will definitely be satisfied. In September of last year, EW reported that after The Dark Tower‘s release we will be seeing a television series running the continuity of the movie. It’s expected to come out in 2018.
But if the film is awful, do we really want a series? We’ll just have to find out.
8. The Horn of Eld
The final installment of the Dark Tower book series finished with Roland (spoiler alert!) restarting his pursuit of the Dark Tower, but with a different twist– he has the Horn of Eld in his possession. The old charm was rewarded to him by the Tower– and like the rose, its significance isn’t completely set in stone. However, the item is a clear sign that things will be different this time around.
Since the Dark Tower movie is a continuation of King’s series, it would be awesome if the horn was a part of the story.
In fact it’s very likely that the Horn of Eld will be a part of the movie, if not a major part of the storyline. Stephen King posted an image of the horn on Twitter last year against a headline that states simply, “Last Time Around“.
7. The doors / Drawing of the Three
We know for a fact that Susannah and Eddie, Roland’s ka-tet members, won’t be included in the film. Even though they don’t have a presence, we definitely hope a hint to their presence will factor into the film in some way.
A great way to hint to these two characters would be to include the doors to different realities. Imagine if the film ended with Roland and Jake needing their aid, and confronting that familiar door emblazoned with the label “The Prisoner / The Lady of Sorrows“. Maybe it could even be an after-credits treat.
The Dark Tower director Nikolaj Arcel has said he really wants to introduce the two characters at some point, possibly in a sequel or in the upcoming Dark Tower television series, so this is actually quite possible.
6. A proper portrayal of Oy
Fans are describing The Dark Tower film as a sequel or continuation of the series of books. This means that a lot of our favorite characters from the series, along with particular events or story subplots, may not even make an appearance in the films. Or they might! Such is the way of The Dark Tower.
If we get a dose of Oy, he has to be done well. And by “well” we mean “literally anything but a cringeworthy fluffy comic relief”. Fan-favorite character Oy is a billy-bumbler, which resembles an (admittedly) adorable ferret. Cuteness aside, he was a fiercely loyal member of the ka-tet and an important part of the story. Should he get the Rocket Racoon or Bartok treatment, it’ll be an annoying disappointment.
5. Make Jake Chambers an important character
The relationship between Roland Deschain and Jake Chambers is an important one, as is the relationship between Roland and all of his allies and friends in his ka-tet. From the trailer, it appears that we will only see Jake and Roland’s relationship specifically in the context of the ka-tet, as Susannah and Eddie Dean won’t be making an appearance in the movie.
This is all well and good (especially if we get a decent sequel out of it) but we really hope the relationship between Roland and Jake is portrayed as emotionally as it is in the books. Roland becomes like a father to Jake, and we hope this translates well in the film. With seasoned actor Idris Elba helming the role of Roland, we can expect it to.
4. Legitimately scary Slow Mutants
In The Gunslinger, Roland and Jake are traveling in the cavernous depths of a huge mountain in their pursuit of the Man in Black. During the dark, unnerving trek, the pair is attacked by creatures known as slow mutants.
While the Dark Tower series is full of thrills and chills, there was something especially chilling about Roland and Jake being chased in complete darkness by those mutated, violent human beings in the books.
Will the slow mutants make an appearance in the film? Maybe. They aren’t major plot devices by any means. If they do make an appearance in the movie, we hope they are portrayed as terrifyingly as they are in the books. We’re not talking Orcs here– more like the monsters from The Descent or the fluke worm from The X-Files.
The Dark Tower movie will take place partially in Algul Siento. This spot is inhabited by the Breakers, a group of innocent psychics who being used by the Man in Black to aid in the fall of the Tower. The Man in Black needs Jake Chambers to join them to be successful, and we can assume this will be a somewhat major plot in the film. If this is the case, we need to see Sheemie.
Sheemie befriends Roland in his youth and makes one of the most shocking returns later on in the books– along with a newly-discovered psychic power.
Asa character, Sheemie is pretty important in his own way, but his return would also open up the opportunity to learn more about Roland’s history. If it doesn’t happen in the film, we hope it will in the television series.
2. The absence of Mordred
Every epic book series has one (or perhaps many) disposable characters whose plotlines seemed to just waste the reader’s time. With controversy, we’ll have to say that we can afford the absence of Mordred.
Within the Dark Tower series, he didn’t add much to the story towards the last few books. His story just seemed to go nowhere, but he did come from exciting beginnings. His villainy was intriguing, and he killed Randall Flagg with a disturbing amount of ease. His demise, though, was some Snape level bullcrap– illness from some bad food and a trip and fall into a roaring fire.
1. Blaine the Monorail
The Dark Tower movie is already at a risk for being a little too weird or surreal for the mainstream to handle (especially if it isn’t done well), so maybe the inclusion of an insane monorail train that loves to pose riddles isn’t the best idea. Ridiculous? Maybe to some– but Blaine is actually an important element of The Dark Tower.
Blaine symbolized the errors of the “old” technology and makes a point to appear when the ka-tet encounters any conflict that involves technology. To omit him would be a bit inconsistent. Blaine is actually pretty horrifying in the books, but making an evil train appear like anything other than a Bizarro Thomas the Tank Engine on the big screen may be on the impossible side.
What are you most excited to see in The Dark Tower? Let us know in the comments!