Steven King's The Dark Tower series began in 1982 with the publication of the very first book, The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger. Since then, King has added eight books to the series, and, after three decades, the series is finally getting a big screen adaptation. But looking at The Dark Tower movie vs. the book, it's clear that there will be some major differences. Unlike more traditional adaptations, The Dark Tower movie is not a retelling of one of the original books, but an expansion.
The Dark Tower movie features aspects from the entire series, keeping some, abandoning others, and tweaking even more. But the one thing that is constant is the hero, gunslinger Roland Deschain. As played by Idris Elba, Roland's purpose in the film remains true to his in the books: he needs to beat the Man in Black and make it to the Dark Tower, the center of all universes. Over the course of his journey, he meets a young boy, Jake (Tom Taylor), who becomes his sidekick. The characters from the book remain the same, but the nature of their journey is shifted dramatically in the film, mostly due to the fact that the movie doesn't actually follow the timeline of the books.
According to King, who collaborated with director Nikolaj Arcel, the film actually starts in the middle of the action. "[The movie] starts in media res, in the middle of the story instead of at the beginning," King said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Fans of the series will see bits and pieces of each installment in the film, but they shouldn't count on their knowledge of the source material to take them through the film. In fact, here are the two major differences between The Dark Tower movie and the original books fans should know before seeing the film.
Roland, Man In Black & Jake
Fans of the series will recognize the main characters of the movie, Roland, Jake, and the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), but other fan favorites will be missing from the adaptation. Over the course of the series, Roland has had many characters join his crusade, like Eddie Dean, a heroin addict, and Susannah. Together with Jake, Eddie and Susannah make up Roland's ka-tet (his team), but only Jake will be appearing in the film. But don't worry, Arcel has already stated that, should they return to make a Dark Tower sequel, Eddie and Susannah will be coming to life in future films. "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," Arcel revealed to EW.
The Horn of Eld
The Dark Tower movie is actually a pseudo sequel to the original series, taking elements from the entire cannon instead of starting with the first book. And one of those elements is the Horn of Eld. In the original series, Roland doesn't have the Horn of Eld until the end of the books, but in the film he is already in possession of the magical object. (For those of you who don't know, the Horn of Eld has the power to reset Roland's journey. Think losing a life on a video game and having to start the level all over again.) Arcel confirmed that Roland's possession of the Horn of Eld does, in fact, mean that the film is a sequel to the books. "The hardcore fans of The Dark Tower series will know that this is actually a sequel to the books in a way," he told Entertainment Weekly (EW). "It has a lot of the same elements, a lot of the same characters, but it is a different journey."
The Dark Tower movie is very different from any one of the books because it is a different version of events, so don't be surprised to see a ton of changes. Roland's possession of the Horn of Eld suggests that the entire movie is another reset, one possible version of events not explored in the books. In short: the Dark Tower movie is like the books, only different. And, if you can wrap your head around that, then you really are a Dark Tower fan.