The epic writer fled across the pages, and the Constant Reader followed. And with that, the series that crosses multiple worlds, dimensions, time, and more than three decades of Stephen King’s life, was born. Constant Reader to the Dark Tower came, and we have followed the tale of Roland and all his folken for many a time. And now, much to our heart’s delight (or ultimate horror?) the internet is running rampant with Dark Tower film rumors. As much as it pains me to say it, I don’t want to see this brought to the big screen. Not now and perhaps maybe not ever. I am a lifelong Stephen King fan and have fallen head over heels for The Dark Tower, but I can’t bear the thought of how badly this film could and probably will be. Here are my ten reasons why The Dark Tower film trilogy will not work.
10. Clint Eastwood Is 82 – Roland Deschain, last gunslinger of Gilead that was, is and always has been Sergio Leone’s Man With No Name, played famously by Clint Eastwood. Stephen King has stated in interviews and alluded to this fact many times throughout The Dark Tower series. And despite the numerous options out there to choose from, the fact remains that not seeing Clint Eastwood play Roland would really just be a joke. He’s too old to do it and anybody else that would try to wear his shoes is not going to fit the part at all. The internet is rampant with choices. Javier Bardem is one; and his apparent twin Jeffrey Dean Morgan is also favored. Both are good choices; talented actors, look the part, but unfortunately they are not the Last Gunslinger of Gilead. They just aren’t. The blue bombardier eyes, the face stubble, the squinted eyes. These things belong to one man and one man alone. And he’s far too old to be chasing Towers. Maybe if they CGI a young Eastwood through the movies I will be more excited. And yes, I would pay top dollar for a CGI Clint Eastwood over any other actor.
9. Cutting 7 Down To 3 – The entire Dark Tower series is seven books; eight, if you count The Wind Through The Keyhole (which you should because it’s a fantastic addition to the series). But even King stated it’s more like Wizard and Glass 4.5 so it could just be plugged in at the end of that book or the beginning of Wolves of the Calla. Even so, if we just go with the original seven books, we are talking 4,650 or so pages–The Wind Through The Keyhole is another 320 pages–not to mention an entire graphic novel line with Marvel that spans ten books so far. How is it even possible to cut that down to three workable scripts without butchering the entire story? I’ll give you hint: it isn’t. Even the biggest of King’s works couldn’t be done on the big screen. The Stand (his largest book to date, unabridged) was made into a mini-series, made-for-tv-movie that ran more than 6 hours. The infamous IT ran a three and a half hour miniseries as well. So how in the bloody blue hell are they even going to come close to covering roughly 18 book sources of material?
8. Changing R Rated Content To PG13 – One common theme with bringing entertainment from other sources into the mainstream is the dumbing down of elements and the censoring of material. The Dark Tower features sex, murder, demons raping women, children being slaughtered, vampires roasting people over a spit, drug use, extreme violence, really fucking bad language, people burned alive, babies eating their own mothers, and… need I go on? The point being, there are far too many dark elements for the film to change everything from a violent, bloody R rating down into a mostly family friendly PG-13 picture. If that happens, the entire atmosphere is lost and you might as well just not even go see it.
7. Lost In Translation – This is a big one on the list. Because here’s what’s going to happen. We get one of two outcomes. 1) The folks behind a Dark Tower movie stay mostly true to the source. They stay true to the story and diehard Tower junkies get a mostly competent, albeit mediocre, film. In which case 90% of the people who see the movie are going to be lost as to what is going on because they never bothered to read the book series. Or we get Option 2: The story is altered to make it “movie friendly” and the real fans–the ones that actually bothered reading the series and waiting around patiently for 30 years–are alienated so that mainstream media can market off the Dark Tower. I can see it now: horrible plastic toys of cowboys and women in wheelchairs, a giant plush of Andy the Messenger Robot (and many other functions), maybe even a Dark Tower lunchbox. One way or another someone loses out on this film. Either the common movie goer or the diehard fan. But ultimately everyone loses because as noted the films will do the books zero justice.
6. Casting – Let’s just get this statement out of the way: there are too many characters within The Dark Tower universe to cast properly and still stay within the film’s budget. The casting for Roland as previously discussed is impossible. The four main ka-tet characters would be painfully hard to cast for. And Oy would have to be made from CGI, which would greatly diminish his humanoid mannerisms. The Dark Tower character landscape is just too big, filled with too many amazing, complex characters to even cover them all.
5. Still Too Soon – Let’s face it, it might just not be the right time for this sort of film. We aren’t ready for such a grand scope of awesome. The film industry and the average consumer just aren’t familiar enough with Stephen King’s magnum opus. Sure, Peter Jackson did fairly well with The Lord of the Rings, but this is not that. The story is too rich and the enormity of King’s world is too vast for it to be tackled at this time. Ideally? Get the wonderful folks over at Bethesda Softworks to first make a grand scale video game of The Dark Tower (think Skyrim meets New Vegas). That would introduce some of the story and characters and somewhat do justice to Mid-world.
4. Too Much Content – Let’s face it: for hardcore Dark Tower fans, those of us fortunate enough to be the beloved Constant Readers, there is just too much content to cram into a trilogy of films. There are going to be too many edits and scale backs. We all have our favorite parts, and they are going to be either briefly skimmed over or ignored altogether for the “good” of the film. Each book covers so much, and in typical King detail, that there is no possible direction the movie scripts can take to accurately portray everything. Unless of course they make each film in the trilogy four hours long. That might work. The rumors are that there will be a film trilogy and then a television series in order to get all the content out there. Which sounds like a brilliantly idea, if you have a sack of marbles for a brain. Who is going to stay interested enough to follow an entire season of TV and then three films besides the Dark Tower diehard fans who will probably hate it from the get-go? The Dark Tower book universe is about as infinite as the Dark Tower itself.
3. Bad Directors – Originally JJ Abrams was attached to this. Amazing. Brilliant. Mind-blowing. But he backed out because “MAKING THE DARK TOWER INTO A MOVIE IS FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE“. (This may or may not be an actual quote.) Now the rumors are that Ron Howard is helmed to direct this trilogy. I cringe at the thought. No offense to Howard, but I don’t want Richie fucking Cunningham from Happy Days directing what is arguably one of the most epic book series of all time. Don’t get me wrong, Howard can carry his own (Willow, Backdraft, Apollo 13, Ransom, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Frost/Nixon, all of them tremendous films), but I’ve seen Tom Hanks’ hair in The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, so dare I say that Ron Howard is a product of outstanding actors carrying his film as opposed to being a standout director? Look back at the list of his greatest hits; not a single one is anywhere close to the scale of The Dark Tower. So what studio exec thought Ron Howard would even remotely make it happen?
See, even he’s confused by it.
2. Wizard and Glass – How do you account for arguably one of the best books out of the seven? This story needs an entire film dedicated to it. Instead, we would probably get a badly done flashback. Either that or they’d throw it in the movie for fifteen minutes and ruin it. (Think: Spider-man 3 with Venom’s storyline.) If they do decide to give it its worth in gold, then they will need an entirely new cast of actors. Or were they just planning to cut that entire story from the series? Wizard and Glass is a pivotal novel that humanizes Roland and sets up so much about the entire story. It tells of Roland’s origins and the fall of Gilead and gives further details on why Roland is such a hard ass. It talks about the Wizard’s Rainbow, and gives new clues about the Man in Black. We learn about the thinny, about ways the world moved on and yet somehow things stayed the same, and we meet Roland’s original ka-tet, his parents, and the Big Coffin Hunters. How can that be left out of the story?
1. Cross Genres/Timestreams – Just the sheer magnitude of time that this story goes through is too much to encompass in a movie. The sixties, the seventies, the eighties, the nineties, Roland’s 1000 year journey before the series even begins, and not to mention the immense distances traveled. Plus we are spanning across cowboys, wizards, vampires, half man-half animal beings, precogs, robots, Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz, the Civil Rights movement, drug smuggling, demons, werespiders, homicidal talking trains, oracles, talking dogs, gigantic part android guardian bears, super flus, witches, other dimensions, dream worlds, etc., etc. How could they possibly do the time jumps, character stories, and massive mixture of genres any possible justice? On top of all that, The Dark Tower series touches on so many other Stephen King books that you could do a whole movie just based on the other characters that are not a part of Roland’s ka-tet. To put it bluntly, it’s basically impossible to do right. Too many elements, side stories, and main plot developments to try and cram into 3 two and a half hour movies. Can Hollywood make it? They can and probably will. Is it going to be done right? All signs point to no. For anybody involved this is too much food to chew. Proof is seen in the fact that JJ Abrams and his Bad Robot team tried sitting down for more than a year working on a plot and script and they told the studio it was impossible. Yeah, the same people that brought us Lost and Fringe wiped their hands of it. If they can’t do it, who could?
Jamie Curtis Baker is an author, blogger, and commentator; he does not consider these things interchangeable. He is a published author and poet. Father, husband, and self-professed food engineer, he’s an adventurous lover of life in general and ready to face what comes. He dabbles in amateur photography. Often sarcastic, but genuinely honest and forthcoming about beliefs and opinions. Open to discussing anything worth merit and embracing the right of anyone to speak their mind. Does not hold faith in any governments or politicians; regularly questioning the orders and decisions of those deemed “leaders” of the free-world. An atheist with a twisted sense of humor and an easy-going temperament. Enjoys good food, delicious alcohol, and warm company. A writer looking for his notch in a sea of words. Interested in the macabre, the beautiful, the solitude of darkness versus light in a mysterious world. For more information, check out his website at www.jamiecurtisbaker.com.
His novella, Not Well, is available via Amazon.com.