The Dark Tower Movie Was More Disappointing Than Avatar: The Last Airbender's Movie, And Nobody Will Convince Me Otherwise

Avatar on the left, The Dark Tower on the right
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures/Sony Pictures Releasing)

Being a mega fan of a property sucks. Yes, there’s the whole toxic fandom aspect of loving a franchise, as that’s a thing. But no, the aspect of fandom that I’m about to talk about might seem like a blessing at first, when in actuality, it’s a curse. And the aspect I’m talking about is the inevitable movie adaptation. Yes, you know where I’m heading with this. At best, you end up getting modern classics like the Harry Potter movies, but at worst, you end up getting dreck like Avatar: The Last Airbender, or the Stephen King-adapted, The Dark Tower Movie. 

And while yes, I will definitely admit that The Last Airbender was a massive disappointment given its stellar source material, there isn’t a soul alive who can tell me that it was a bigger disappointment than The Dark Tower. Not a soul. And I have five reasons why. So, come my child. All things serve the beam.


Idris Elba and Tom Taylor in The Dark Tower

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

The Dark Tower Didn't Seem To Know Its Audience At All, While The Last Airbender At Least Had An Idea 

It’s not there anymore, but for a time, The Last Airbender could be found on Netflix Kids. And I know this because that’s where my own children found it. Say what you will about M. Night Shyamalan having Aang’s name mispronounced as “Ong”, or the fact that the special effects were deplorable and the acting was atrocious. Be that as it may, The Last Airbender is still a film that was made for children, as children are Avatar’s core audience, adult themes be damned!  

But The Dark Tower movie doesn’t know what audience it’s going for. Actually, that’s not true, since it knows exactly what audience it’s going for, and that’s the Young Adult market. But here’s the thing. The Dark Tower, as a book series, is NOT Young Adult. Like, not at all. And I’m not just saying that the movie was trying to be YA because it had a PG-13 rating. No. Essentially, the movie makes Jake Chambers (played by Tom Taylor) the protagonist, while Roland (played by Idris Elba) is more of a guide into this new world. But that shouldn’t be.

Roland is, and always has been, the protagonist of The Dark Tower, and for the studio to move that focus to Jake totally missed the point and shifted the tone completely. The Dark Tower is not The Maze Runner. It’s not The Hunger Games. It’s the freaking Dark Tower! So, how could they get that tone so incredibly wrong?

The Dark Tower

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

The Dark Tower Had More Potential As Its Story Acts As A Sequel To The Books

Okay, so, I’m not going to spoil The Dark Tower books for you since I really do want you to read them, but let’s just say that the movie may not be Roland’s first time to the Tower. The film’s director confirmed that the movie would act as both an adaptation as well as a sequel to the books, which sounded SO cool at the time. But in the end, it was the execution that ruined it.

Compare that to The Last Airbender. Honestly, I’m still pretty impressed that the movie was able to condense the entirety of Book 1 into a single film. Was it done well? Well… that’s debatable. But at least the film didn’t really have any loftier goals than to just make a live-action version of the first season. The final product was a disappointment, sure, but not as disappointing as The Dark Tower and what it could have been.

Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba in The Dark Tower

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

The Dark Tower Had Better Actors, But Still Didn't Deliver In That Department 

The acting in The Last Airbender is bad. I mean, REALLY bad. Not even Dev Patel could save this turkey, but honestly, what did you expect? The kid actors, while serviceable, weren’t the crème de la crème of young Hollywood talent at the time, so we really shouldn’t have ever expected all that much.

But The Dark Tower movie had Idris Elba, who we KNOW is a good actor, and Matthew McConaughey, who won a freaking Academy Award for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club. They played Roland and The Man in Black, respectively, and they should have knocked it out of the park, but they both looked incredibly bored, and in turn, it left the audience bored. I mean, couldn’t we even get stellar acting in our crummy adaptation? Is that too much to ask?

Tom Taylor in The Dark Tower

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

Avatar Will Live On In Other Media. The Same Can't Necessarily Be Said For The Dark Tower

Even while watching The Last Airbender in theaters and cringing at its acting and visuals, I knew that Avatar itself would be fine, and I was right. We currently have a Netflix live-action show still on the way, as well as more content from the series' creators coming to Paramount+. So, Avatar is very much alive and well.

The same can’t be said for The Dark Tower. Yes, we’ll always have the books, and articles are always popping up about The Dark Tower potentially getting another chance, but it all just sounds so pie in the sky to me. The Dark Tower series, after all, is a massive undertaking, and in a lot of ways, the movie we got feels like our one and only shot at seeing these characters brought to life on a screen. I could be wrong, of course, but it certainly feels that way. At least for now.


Idris Elba in The Dark Tower

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

We Will Likely Never Get A Sequel, And The Second Book Is Arguably The Best In The Entire Series

Okay, now this is my BIGGEST disappointment, but we will likely never, ever see Eddie Dean or Odetta Holmes (later Susannah Dean) on the big (or small) screen, as they appeared in arguably the best book in the series, The Drawing of the Three, which is Book 2 of The Dark Tower. And this tears me up! The Drawing of the Three is not only my favorite Dark Tower novel, it’s my favorite Stephen King novel, period! It moves at such a breakneck speed and the fact that I’ll likely never see it adapted literally makes me want to cry.

Sure, it kind of sucks that we’ll never see Toph on the big screen, as she first appeared in Book 2 of the Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon. But I honestly don’t want to see what M. Night Shyamalan was going to do with her character, and I very much want to see how a Black Roland would have even responded to the very racist Odetta Holmes. Would she still have been Black herself, or would she have been made white instead? I STILL want to know.

And that’s the list. I’m really drained and depressed now. For news on all things Stephen King-related, make sure to swing by here often.

Rich Knight
Content Producer

Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.