Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Word on the Recent Dark Tower Castings

*Be Advised* The Following Contains Minor Dark Tower Spoilers

Are you telling me that the studios have so little respect for King's source material that they're going to make the Gunslinger . . . British!?

Personally, I couldn't care less what color Roland Deschain's skin is. Unless somebody has a TARDIS or a Delorean with which they can go back in time and snap up a young Clint Eastwood, I really couldn't think of a better actor to play the Gunslinger than Elba (with the possible exception of Javier Bardem). And yet, for some reason, thousands of people have taken to their keyboards in utter outrage over the casting choice. To which Stephen King himself had the following response:

But what does he know about The Dark Tower really, he just wrote the damn things...

The most popular complaint against Elba's casting seems to be that the Gunslinger's change in complexion irrevocably alters the dynamic between Roland Deschain and Detta Walker in the second Dark Tower book, The Drawing of the Three. Setting aside the fact that you could simply replace the words "honky mafa" with "uncle tom" and probably have the exact same scene, I think that the primary problem with this argument (and most others that decry changes to the source material) is that it is impossible to make a Dark Tower movie without changing large portions of the story.

Consider the nonlinear way in which the story is told, and the fact that 80% of one of the books is a flashback, and a flashback within a flashback. Consider the fact that King actually writes himself into the story in the latter books, and the fact that large portions of the early ones feature internal telepathic conversations between characters. Finally, consider the fact that there are a number of characters and plots that interconnect in the Dark Tower series which currently belong to other studios.

There are going to be changes to this story, there just have to be. It's too vast, to weird, and too meta to ever work in Hollywood. And that's fine. Making a different story on the big screen doesn't take anything away from the books that we all know and love. I plan on enjoying these movies for what they are, and just taking it as an alternate tale of Roland and his Ka-Tet. There are other worlds than these after all. After an Oscars ceremony so white that I thought somebody poured bleach all over it, I think that it's refreshing to see a person of color receiving such a prominent role in a beloved franchise. Idris Elba is a tremendous actor, and I look forward to his interpretation of the character.

And as excited as I am for Elba, I am twice as pumped for Matthew McConaughey as Randall Flagg. If you asked me this in 2013, I would never have thought that the Lincoln Lawyer guy could pull of the Dark Man, but over the past few years McConaughey has blown us all away with his roles in movies like Interstellar and The Dallas Buyers Club, and of course his mind blowing performance as Rust Cohle in HBO's True Detective.

What makes doubly excited is that McConaughey will be playing Flagg in the movie adaptations not only of The Dark Tower, but also The Stand. You know what that means? Expanded universe baby! McConaughey has the intensity to bring Flagg to life, and even redeem the character from his mediocre exit in the seventh Dark Tower book.

Shake the hand that shook the world. Alright, alright, alright.

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