Writer-director Nikolaj Arcel has some tough challenges ahead of him as far as the adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series is concerned. Not only does he have to bring the books to life in a way that’s both satisfactory and satisfying to the rabid fanbase (and the franchise’s meticulous author), it has to remain marketable for general audiences who are coming into this massive property blind. Unless both of those boxes are checked, you can wave goodbye to any future sequels in the movies or on TV. And yet, the clever way around this problem is that the film is neither a direct adaptation beholden to the novels, nor an original creation that leaves the mythology in the dust.
As Scott Wampler of BMD surmised back in May, and which EW has now confirmed thanks to their continuing coverage of the film, The Dark Tower will actually be a sort of sequel to the book series, but will also model the structure of the first book, “The Gunslinger.” That may sound a bit confusing – and it is – but the best explanation requires a lot of story spoilers. If you’d rather avoid those, then just know that the movie version starring Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, and Tom Taylor will continue the story of Roland Deschain from King’s novels without translating them to screen beat for beat. If you’d like to dig into the details a bit more, and find out which major characters won’t be showing up in the first movie, read on.
First up, when King debuted a new teaser image for The Dark Tower back in May, Wampler quickly took to the interwebs to explain just what was going on. Basically, it showed an item (seen in Elba’s bag in this image) that Roland did not have throughout his quest in King’s book, but one that would have served him greatly in his pursuit. In the movie version, however, Roland does have this “quest item,” you might call it, suggesting that things will be very different going forward.
Here’s King’s teaser from May, which is fairly innocuous as far as general audiences are concerned, but was a real eye-grabber to fans of the books:
The Dark Tower is close, now. The Crimson King awaits. Soon Roland will raise the Horn of Eld. And blow. pic.twitter.com/rqGSKM3dWL
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) May 19, 2016
Arcel confirmed as much in EW’s report:
“The hardcore fans of The Dark Tower series will know that this is actually a sequel to the books in a way. It has a lot of the same elements, a lot of the same characters, but it is a different journey.”
Arcel also commented on the circular nature of the story as a way to take book readers at its end back to its beginning in the first film:
“It’s completely circular, cogs and wheels. Everything fits together. It has a great little power to it. It fits very well into the nature of the entire saga itself.”
Also, Arcel’s vision for the film is all about Roland’s quest:
“The Tower is a beacon of light in a world that’s cynical and dark and sometimes feels a little hopeless, and this is about the quest for that. This is the quest to save the hope and the light.”
Again, readers know that Roland is helped out in his quest by a number of important people, but two of the biggest characters won’t be showing up … at least not yet. Of course I’m talking about Eddie Dean, the reformed heroin junkie, and Susannah, the amputee with multiple personalities. But don’t freak out just yet:
“They’re certainly out there,” Arcel says. “I think the entire story deserves to be told and should be told. I would certainly be disappointed in myself or my collaborators if we didn’t bring them in. They’re such a huge part of the story.”
This makes sense considering that the first film is sticking with the characters and plot of the first book. King also commented on their absence in this film:
“I’m fine with it. I know exactly where Akiva [Goldsman] always planned to bring them in and that’s cool with me.”
For those of you still concerned that this adaptation won’t be in line with King’s vision, the acclaimed author had this very frank statement to share:
“I’m 100 percent behind it — which doesn’t mean it necessarily will work, just that it’s a good way to try and to get into these stories.”
Be sure to head over to both BMD for a more in-depth explanation, and EW for many more quotes. And for more on The Dark Tower, be sure to check out our recent coverage below:
- ‘The Dark Tower’: Matthew McConaughey Explains How He Doesn’t See Walter as a Villain
- ‘The Dark Tower’: First Official Image and New Details Emerge
- New ‘The Dark Tower’ Set Photos Reveal Matthew McConaughey’s Man in Black
- ‘The Dark Tower': Idris Elba Releases New Teaser Image
- ‘The Dark Tower’: Stephen King Cautions the Film May Make Some Big Changes