This post contains spoilers and shares general content from the book series, with sentences that discuss major spoilers set in italics. To those who’ve never read the books, read on at your own risk.
Ever since I finished reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, I always dreamt of it being a movie. I’m sure I’m not the only one. It is King’s magnum opus and, if told well, could be as great as many other magnum opus stories like Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings and Game of Thrones.
In 2017, Nikolaj Arcel brought us his concept of The Dark Tower, which avid readers will know is not based on the actual books. As King himself noted in a tweet, that story was the “last time around”:
This means the 2017 movie was, essentially, an unadulterated sequel to the original books. Aside from this fact, the movie itself was a flop. It seemingly condensed the whole series into one movie, while missing a lot of the great action most of us fans were wanting to see. It also missed a lot of important plot points, which non-fans would have needed in order to really understand the story. As much as the fight scenes, the easter eggs and the acting were great, the story as a whole was too quizzical for fresh minds.
But now it’s come to light that a TV show based on a particular part of The Dark Tower series is coming to the small screen in 2020 (TBC), with lead actors already named. According to the Internet Movie Database, the TV series will be based around the fourth instalment of King’s magnum opus, Wizard and Glass. Game of Thrones fans will be happy to know that Bronn of the Blackwater, played by Jerome Flynn, will be entering mid-world as Roland’s father, Steven Deschain. Wizard and Glass shares the tragic love story between Roland Deschain and Susan Delgado. This TV adaptation was originally expected to serve as a prequel to the 2017 movie, but I believe Stephen King thinks otherwise. In an interview with Vulture, King said:
The TV series they’re developing now … we’ll see what happens with that. It would be like a complete reboot, so we’ll just have to see.
While this is a step in the right direction, I’d still like to see a proper adaptation of the series. So, to perhaps inspire this, I’m here to share five reasons why they need to put The Dark Tower on the screen.
Because it’s a wondrous plot
Every great writer has a powerful plotting technique. George R. R. Martin brought the concept of killing off main characters, which kept the viewers hooked to the TV series. J. K. Rowling brought intricate circumstances to her book, captivating the audience in the movie collection. With Stephen King, he has brought a plot that wavers between the two. I’d like to see how the world would react to the sudden and unexpected death of Jake Chambers, and then to the redrawing of him later in the series, and then the death of him again. Or the fast-paced shemozzle that came to us from book two, with doorways into different whens, the feisty gun battle at the ganglord’s palace, and even the quirky end of Detta and Odetta. Or even that crazy train ride which I’ve dedicated to its own section in this list.
The plot is also driven by exceptional characters, which I’d really like to see on-screen. I’ve got this idea of Daniel Craig playing Roland Deschain, David Mazouz playing Jake Chambers, Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing Eddie Dean and Odetta/Detta/Susannah being played by Zoe Saldana. What a strong ka-tet that would be.
It will bring new meaning to sci-fi
Stephen King isn’t shy in saying his story is partly inspired by the hobbits of J. R. R. Tolkien. But all that is quite “old school” in regards to the sci-fi of today. Throughout the years we have been shown the everlasting depths of the universe through Star Wars and Star Trek, the wonders of wizardry in Harry Potter, the insidious love story between a vampire and a schoolgirl in the Twilight Saga, and we’ve seen the battlements of middle earth in Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. What is the new contender for sci-fi? How about the battle between different realities? Or the intricacy of travelling between time and space? Or the resurgence of cowboy-style mayhem, matched with futuristic degeneration? This is exactly what The Dark Tower will bring.
The series is hard to categorise when it comes to genre. We can say it is predominately sci-fi, but there are aspects of the story that delve into other areas. We’ve got the romance between Susannah and Eddie, and the old love story between Roland Deschain and Susan Delgado. We’ve got the horror of mutants, evil men, vampires, witches and psychotic trains. We’ve also got the western-style genre thanks to Roland, the last gunslinger, who dresses up like that guy on Red Dead Redemption. In fact, the first book mostly takes place in a desert region. On top of this, the story plays between reality and unreality in such a uniquely twisted way. I mean, Stephen King put himself in the story as the all-seeing oracle.
Let’s face it, The Dark Tower will bring new meaning to sci-fi.
For those epic gun battles
If there’s one thing the great stories from Tolkien, Martin and Rowling are most famous for, it’s their epic battles. To name a few great ones, there’s the battle of the bastards in Game of Thrones, the final fight between Voldemort and Hogwarts in Harry Potter, or the battle of five armies in The Hobbit. All of these great battles were rambunctious and lively on screen, but we equally enjoy the smaller and more impactful ones. I can only imagine what the crazy gun battle between Roland and the citizens of Tull would look like on screen. Or the gunfight at The Leaning Tower between Eddie Dean, Roland and the New York crime boss Enrico Balazar. Don’t forget that Eddie Dean was stark naked in that battle. Now that would make for great cinema!
Some other great battles that are worthy of a mention would be Roland’s gun rampage through New York City, the crazed run through the City of Lud, The stand against the wolves and the battle of Jericho Hill.
Blaine The Mono
I don’t know about you, but the crazed riddle contest between Blaine the Mono and Roland’s ka-tet was by far the most memorable of the series. It etched together a scene that was thrilling and captivating, and it would look extremely wonderful on the screen if done right. All that talk about what new kind of sci-fi this series will bring comes to a head with Blaine the Mono. A train that can go invisible, showing off the surrounding scenery as the car plunges ahead at 800 miles per hour? A mentally unstable maniac that really makes you question the viability of artificial intelligence of the future? The simple but elusive way they take down the train before it splatters them across Topeka, Kansas? A great scene, indeed!
That horrifyingly amazing/awful ending
Before I go any further, I’d recommend anyone who hasn’t read the books should stop reading now before they get spoiled big time. Inasmuch, I will say that the ending is unlike any ending I’ve experienced before. It’s both satisfying and unnerving, at the same time. Now, to any non-readers, I bid you farewell.
And to the fans leftover, I say welcome to our final palaver. I have to say, that ending was bananas. I remember closing the book and looking off into the distance with my mouth slightly agape and my head swimming with unease. And then, after a few seconds, it dawned on me: the ending makes complete sense. The Dark Tower itself is the centre of the universe. It only makes sense that Roland gets returned back to the beginning again.
And when you consider the chapters before his final ascent of the tower, he had many opportunities to live a different life. To find a new journey, one that doesn’t feel like an endless vacuum of nothingness. In fact, if there’s one over-arching theme of the whole story, it is addiction. The major one falls on Roland, who has a powerful obsession over the dark tower. He continually goes on the quest again and again to reach the dark tower and to somehow save the world. Other addictions can be seen in the other characters, too. Eddie Dean, of course, combats a heroin addiction. Detta/Odetta/Susannah combats the addiction of presence, trying hard to look good. And Jake, sad to say, combats an addiction of love. For his whole life, Jake hasn’t had the love and affection from his parents, and it’s the love he feels between the formed ka-tet that saves him. Indeed, all of them except Roland form wonderful character arches, and by the end, they are saved. Eddie, Susannah and Jake return to their world, discarding the life of gunslinging and living again. But it’s Roland who ultimately fails. In truth, The Dark Tower is a tragedy. Wouldn’t that go down a treat at the box office?
In my opinion, I think it would be the most talked-about ending compared to other series. Lord of the Rings was a great ending, but soppy and drawn out. Harry Potter has a great ending too, with so much punch but a smouldering denouement. And Game of Thrones, sorry to say, had an ending that didn’t quite cut the mustard, so to speak. Of course, we won’t know how George R. R. Martin really wanted to end it until he finishes the final book. I’m sure it would be better than what we got on screen.
But imagine that, after Roland completes his entire quest, he climbs the dark tower, reaches the top and ends up back at the start, with a puff of desert mist clearing in the air and him. What a powerful punch, much like the ending to Moby Dick.
I’d like to see how the audience would cope.
But enough from me, I want to hear from you fellow readers who have read the books. What are you expecting in a true adaptation of The Dark Tower? Say true, and thankee-sai for reading.