(WARNING: The following post contains HUGE spoilers for Stephen King's The Dark Tower book series that may factor into the upcoming film. Proceed with caution.)
Unlike so many of #StephenKing’s other books, his #DarkTower series has had a laboriously difficult time making its way to the silver screen. Despite the fact that just about every one of his other major novels, short stories, and novellas have been adapted into movies, TV series, or mini series, The Dark Tower somehow hasn’t gotten the same treatment as his other material. It’s strange though, since the series has a rabid fanbase, and we are now living in the great fantasy renaissance thanks to the #LordOfTheRings trilogy and #GameOfThrones has become one of the biggest pop culture sensations ever to sweep the planet. But Stephen King’s fantasy magnum opus has still not made its way to the big screen.
Childe Roland To 'The Dark Tower' Came
Super director/producer #RonHoward has spent the better part of a decade trying to bring the series to life as a series of films and a TV show, but even he could not get anyone to pull the trigger on the project. Now, after decades in development hell, it looks like we’re finally getting The Dark Tower brought to the big screen. If initial reports are believed, it’ll be a bit different than what fans are expecting.
Quite frankly, I cannot be happier about that. While the first three or four books of the series are fantastic, around book five or so, the series starts to waiver. If I had to name a point, I’d say it’s right around when robo-furry versions of Victor Von Doom started showing up wielding Harry Potter references. I get that The Dark Tower has always been about a weird mishmash of references, modern culture, and western pastiche, I do, but that was always held within the greater sway of dark fantasy. There were demonic possessions, mutants, and a sense of brutal fatalism.
Furry doom bots are not scary. They do not conjure the same sense of a world come slowly undone as a maggot-infested cyborg bear, or a half-crazed man festering with disease and hate in a failed futuristic city held in the sway of a malevolent AI, or even the simple image of a man holding an Aamco pump nozzle between his thighs because that’s how crazy and devolved things have gotten. They just remind you of superhero comics, and snitches just remind you of Harry Potter and nobody ever read Harry Potter and thought “Gee, things fall apart. Maybe the center can’t hold or something?”
Are Audiences Ready For The Genre Fusion Of 'The Dark Tower'?
Perhaps one of the coolest things about The Dark Tower series is how King managed to weave all of his other stories into it to create a weird shared universe that connects everything from #IT to #TheStand. It was a lifetime of work towards something that ultimately proved a little bit anticlimactic when the big villain — the Crimson King turned out to be nothing but a crazy old man throwing Harry Potter-themed merchandise from off the top of a tall building. It’s something that I think King recognized himself as he has opted to start with the new movie franchise rather than a direct adaptation. The big sign came via social media when the King himself dropped this bombshell.
The Horn Of Eld Sounds Across Twitter
For longtime Dark Tower fans, this was the equivalent of throwing a bunch of starving dogs a few choice cuts of filet mignon. It was a way to justify a less literal adaptation of the source material that could still serve as canon within The Dark Tower universe.
(For non Dark Tower aficionados, spoilers are rampant past this point).
The Horn of Eld is an heirloom passed down through the generations. It’s the horn of Arthur Eld, who is pretty much King Arthur. He wields Excalibur and rules as the quintessential good king. Now, for those of you who know your stuff, this entire epic is based very very loosely on an epic poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” which itself is rooted in “The Song of Roland.” All of this is pretty much a long, roundabout way of saying that what Roland needed to do before wandering into the Tower was blow the damn Horn of Eld because both poems mention Roland blowing a horn. Of course, Roland can’t blow the horn when he left the damn thing with Cuthbert at the Battle of Jericho Hill.
The Man In Black Fled Across The Desert And The Gunslinger Followed
This series of events is also hinted at the end of the eighth book as Roland climbs to the top of the tower only to be transported back to the beginning of the series. Only this time, he has the all important Horn of Eld. So in a way, the films are serving as a sequel to the books, paying their respects to dedicated, hardcore fans while also allowing the team to take many creative liberties with the more eccentric pieces of King’s writing. This way they can create a movie that’s more accessible to a mainstream audience, who are just getting used to dragons and elves fighting skeletons thanks to Game of Thrones, but might not quite be ready for a medieval knight gunslinger who travels between dimensions and hangs out with talking woodchuck-raccoon-cat-dog-thing known as a billy-bumbler.
I’m hoping the producers also insist on the Hollywood treatment for Walter O’Dim, producing a more interesting and fitting end for the long-time series villain than simply being eaten by Mordred, Roland’s demonic were-spider child produced by magic. It was one of the most disappointing anti-climaxes of the series, and something that could easily be fixed in a not-quite-the-series-we-know style adaptation that the movies are going for. While we’re at it, I’m hoping for either a serious retooling of Mordred or simply leaving the evil were-spider out of the retelling all together because it seems like his only purpose was to eat extraneous characters until Roland put a bullet through him.
It’s only fitting that given the series' long road towards the screen has been almost as long as Roland’s journey to the Dark Tower itself. It’s been in development since 2007 and had such big name talent like #JJAbrams and Damon Lindelof attached to it at one point. Then, Ron Howard wanted to make a trilogy of films that would alternate alongside two seasons of a TV series that would serve to bridge the gap between the films, all while keeping the same cast. Even in today’s age where TV has become king, nothing that ballsy has ever been attempted and will not be attempted since that plan fell through due to budgetary concerns.
In a few weeks we’ll probably be getting a trailer and in a few months we’ll see if Nikolaj Arcel’s adaptation will do the impossible by providing a great entry point for people unfamiliar with King’s epic saga while also pleasing long-time, diehard fans of the series. Of course, we may have to wait a little bit longer to see it now, since the release has been pushed back from February of next year all the way to July. We can only hope that they’re spending that time making last minute adjustments to really work through some of the kinks in the book series and make sure the visual effects receive the polish they deserve.
Do you think someone like Danny Elfman should score The Dark Tower?
Are you excited for The Dark Tower movie? Do you think it could improve upon the books?