The following contains spoilers for Stephen King’s Dark Tower book series.
Fans of Stephen King’s Magnum Opus The Dark Tower have been cycling through a pair of emotions over the last few months. One is excitement, and the other is confusion. On the one hand, fans have been elated that the long-gestating film project is finally moving forward. However, much of the casting news has us scratching our heads. Sure, Roland of Gilead and The Man in Black are the lead characters, but most of the rest of the casting has been for minor characters who don’t appear for more than a few scenes in the novels, and not until later books. Now, Stephen King himself has dropped a bombshell of a tweet that goes a long way to explaining everything. The Dark Tower movies are not adaptations of the books, they’re sequels.
Ok, for everybody who hasn’t read the original Dark Tower books, but ignored the spoiler warning above, here’s the deal. At the end of the last book in the series, in a chapter that the author himself suggests you might not want to read, Roland of Gilead enters The Dark Tower and realizes that he’s been there before. Many times. Roland is caught in an endless loop. From the Tower, he is transported back to the beginning of the story, with no memory of the previous events. The famous line which opens the first book, "The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed," is also the final line of the last book. However, as this walk across the desert begins, Roland is in possession of an artifact called The Horn of Eld. The books tell us previously that, as a young man, at a place called the Battle of Jericho Hill, Roland dropped the horn and left it behind. He needs to blow this horn from atop the Dark Tower in order to truly complete his quest. Now that it has been restored, the implication is that Roland is beginning his final journey at the conclusion of Stephen King’s books.
Now, Stephen King’s tweet, gives us an image of the Horn of Eld in the dirt. The words "last time around" could imply that the movies will tell the story of what happens after the books left off, on that last time around. With this in mind, it at least has the potential of explaining the apparent differences between the books and the movies. Roland wasn’t simply magically gifted the horn at the end. Instead, he remembers picking it up, his past has, in some small way, been changed. So maybe what we have here is something of a "butterfly effect." What different decisions would Roland have made after picking up the horn? How would those decisions have affected others? When you take into account that the events of The Dark Tower aren’t even limited to one universe, the potential changes are limitless.
Perhaps this will help to explain why most of the Dark Tower casting has included characters like Tirana, and Richard Sayre, while we still have yet to hear a word about Eddie or Odetta. Perhaps these characters will play more prominent roles in Roland’s final trip toward the Dark Tower because their own lives have also taken slightly different paths.
This is also potentially good news for anybody who didn’t like the way the books concluded. If you had a problem with the lack of resolution, it turns out, we just haven’t gotten there yet.
If there’s a downside to this revelation, it’s that it means we have literally zero idea what will actually take place in the movie. Everything is now fair game. If fans were looking forward to seeing their favorite scenes from the books play out on the big screen, there’s no guarantee that any of them will happen. Roland and the Man in Black’s palaver on the far side of the mountains? We may never see what Roland saw on that endless night. The Seven Samurai inspired genre mashup battle of the ka-tet at Calla Bryn Sturgis may never even take place.
While news this radical is sure to hit different fans in different ways, and many won’t be pleased, it does at least help to explain why so little of the news we were getting was making sense. It will also keep the entire production much more mysterious, since nobody will know what’s coming next. Are you excited, or slightly terrified, to see the true conclusion of The Dark Tower? Let us know what you think in the comments.