You Want the Tower? A Breakdown of The Dark Tower Trailer

Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) in Columbia Pictures’ The Dark Tower.

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

~~ Stephen King; The Gunslinger

I’m a little bit of a Stephen King nerd. I admit it. I’m not hyper-crazy or anything (nevermind that I used to write letters to him that I never sent, telling him about my writing). But I do love most of his work. And I have an awful lot in hardcover.

Imagine my fangirl squeeing when this came up in my Twitter feed:

And then this:

And then the rest of the conversation, complete with short little video teasers:

Why, yes. You’re absolutely right. My little fangirl heart did almost explode with excitement. Thank you for noticing! The hours until the official trailer’s release felt like the last hours of the final day before summer vacation when I was ten.

And then…like Christmas morning, it arrived! When I hit play, my pulse thumped in my ears and I clapped like a little kid — because I really am ten years old. I am not ashamed to admit that I watched the trailer multiple times (“multiple” might or might not mean eight… or perhaps twelve), squeeing a lot (much to my husband’s amusement).

Why was I so excited? I mean, the Dark Tower series isn’t even my favorite in terms of King’s work (those would be Misery and It, and a whole bunch of short stories).

I’m excited because this has been a really, really, really long time coming. But I’m even more excited because I think casting Idris Elba as Roland and Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black are perfect choices.

Did you tell the kid whoever walks with you dies by my hand?

~~ The Man in Black

There is a lot of back and forth among fans about whether it is appropriate to cast a black man as Roland, who is quite clearly white — and not “default white,” but specifically white — in the series. Opponents of Elba’s casting quite rightly cite the fact that that Roland’s skin color is a strong element in his interactions with one of the main characters of the books and casting a black man effectively eliminates an entire sub-plot from the story. And understanding how bad some previous King adaptations have been, this wild departure from the source material can seem like the movie is already doomed to be horrible before it’s even in the theaters.

And… if this were an actual adaptation, I’d be inclined toward annoyance at such a drastic diversion from the books (though it does, as always, depend on how and why a diversion is done). But this isn’t an adaptation. This is what I think folks may not realize. The Dark Tower movie is actually a sequel to the books. It occurs after the final book in the series. Serious Dark Tower fans recognized this pretty early on when Stephen King tweeted this:

I’m not going to explain how that tells us that the movie comes after the books, as that’s a pretty big spoiler. If you haven’t read the books and really want to know, you can read a spoiler for the final Dark Tower book at the Book Spoiler. The result of this is that the subplot where Roland’s skin color matters isn’t in this movie. Whether the character it matters to will be in a future movie isn’t something we know yet. But, for now, the fact that the movie is a sequel makes the color of Roland’s skin a non-issue.

Understanding that this is a sequel rather than an adaptation means that it’s okay that Roland of Gilead isn’t white with piercing blue eyes. And it makes it okay that Roland and Jake go to New York City in this first movie, even though Roland doesn’t experience NYC until second book in the actual series. In essence, being a sequel means that this is an entirely new story. And I find that super exciting!

Plus, seeing Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba playing these characters, even in the short clips within the trailer, really shows off how well-cast they actually are in terms of talent. I feel they are doing these characters justice, at least so far.


I do not aim with my hand; he who aims with his hand
has forgotten the face of his father.
I aim with my eye.

I do not shoot with my hand; he who shoots with his hand
has forgotten the face of his father.
I shoot with my mind.

I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun
has forgotten the face of his father.
I kill with my heart.

~~ The Gunslinger’s Creed


One of the things I love about Stephen King’s works is that they’re all interconnected. This means that when reading his stuff, you’ll sometimes get small references to other books or characters from other books. This is because they’re all part of the same multiverse — but that is definitely another post! As a reader, I adore recognizing these little inside references. I love it as a viewer too. And, in keeping with Stephen King’s tradition, this trailer is no different.

In the part of the trailer where Jake is at his shrink’s office and the room begins to shake, we get a quick shot of a photo on the doctor’s desk. It is none other than the Overlook Hotel, straight from The Shining.


And, my favorite Easter Egg (and if you know me, you’re thinking, “Of course.”) is when Jake is wandering through a forest and happens across the remains of an amusement part. The dilapidated structure reads, “Pennywise.” Nearby is the remains of a statue, now only a hand holding a bunch of rusted, cracked balloons.

That, of course, makes me super excited for the release of It, which comes out in September! It’s like a Stephen King bonanza!

So, needless to say, I’m really excited to see The Dark Tower when it comes out. I am not a movie theater person. I think the last time I was in a movie theater was 2015. But The Dark Tower is probably going to get me into one come August! If, by some incredibly strange turn of events you haven’t seen the trailer yet, have a peek!

How about you? What are your thoughts on the trailer? Are you going to see the Dark Tower when it comes out? Let me know below!


  • Kelly McCarty June 11, 2017 at 1:33 am

    I don’t go to movies in the theater very often but I’m definitely intrigued by this one, even though I read The Gunslinger and did not like it. I would say that my favorite Stephen King books are The Stand and 11/22/63. I completely missed the hotel and rollercoaster in the trailer. I like the casting of Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. I was never a fan of McConaughey until I saw True Detective, which he was brilliant. It was a much better performance than the one in Dallas Buyers Club that won him an Oscar.

    • Shara White June 12, 2017 at 7:02 am

      I really like that this movie is a sequel of the book series. You don’t have to read the books to enjoy it (by nature of the plot structure; I spoiled myself on the ending) so it’s a perfect jumping point for viewers like me who haven’t read the books, but it’s also for the fans without having to slavishly devote itself to the source material, leaving lots of breathing room.


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