Mike Flanagan, the acclaimed director of modern horror classics like The Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass, will now be the showrunner for an adaptation of author Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower. For those unfamiliar with the story, The Dark Tower books follow gunslinger Roland Deschain as he pursues the Man in Black and tries to reach the titular tower, which serves as the nexus for the entire multiverse. While it mainly takes place in the post-apocalyptic realm of Mid-World, King’s Lord of the Rings-inspired saga shows Roland and his group travel across multiple realities, including our own, which will undoubtedly make for Amazon’s most intriguing project since The Rings of Power.
This will not be Amazon’s first attempt at adapting King’s eight-novel saga, as the studio had produced an unaired pilot for another series that was ultimately rejected. However, Flanagan has shared his plans for the series with Deadline, saying he hopes for it to run for five seasons and lead to two feature-length films, which shows there is a bright future for the director following his shocking departure from Netflix. It looks like King’s epic story is in good hands with Flanagan, and there should be plenty of great things to look forward to in his upcoming series.
The only time audiences got to see Mid-World in live-action was in 2017’s The Dark Tower, and this film failed to satisfy both fans of King’s book and audiences who don’t know the source material. In a movie that lasts only 95 minutes, the story spends a large chunk of time following the characters in New York City when it should’ve focused on exploring King’s vast and detailed fantasy world.
But with an episodic series, Flanagan can explore numerous aspects of Mid-World’s culture and history that were never explored in the film, such as the Great Cataclysm, the rise of Arthur Eld, the fall of Roland’s home of Gilead, and the pervading force of destiny known as “ka.”
Similar to Marvel and DC, Stephen King has set up his own multiverse in which all his books are set in, and they all have references that link them to The Dark Tower. For instance, in the book Insomnia, the Crimson King wreaks havoc in Derry, Maine, the town previously haunted by the evil Pennywise in It. And in the latter book, the father of Mike Hanlon is said to have been saved from a fire by Dick Hallorann, the psychic cook who mentors Danny Torrance in The Shining. There is even a portion of the fourth Dark Tower novel where Roland and his team travel through the version of Earth ravaged by the superflu from The Stand.
Mike Flanagan has been setting up The Dark Tower long before he even got hired to run the series. Referencing the story in films like Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep, the director introduced metaphysical concepts like “ka” and “the Beam” that serve important roles in The Dark Tower and his author’s entire multiverse. It could even leave the door open for characters from past Stephen King films and shows to appear, not just the ones directed by Flanagan but also from other adaptations like 2017’s It, 2020’s The Stand, and the upcoming reboot of Salem’s Lot.
While Flanagan plans to create a five-season show and two films centered around The Dark Tower, there is still the chance of it leading to other spin-offs. Since The Dark Tower connects to King’s other works, this series could lay the groundwork for more adaptations of his books, including the ones that haven’t received the Hollywood treatment yet.
For example, the Crimson King also served as the main villain of King’s novel, Insomnia, so The Dark Tower could set up a live-action adaptation of this story as well, especially since one of its protagonists plays an integral part in defeating the demon once and for all.
One of the most sorely overlooked characters from Stephen King’s novels is the author’s version of Satan himself: the Crimson King. Leading the evil servants of the Outer Dark, this shapeshifting entity seeks to destroy the Dark Tower and throw the multiverse into chaos so he may rule over everything. The Crimson King has been the source of great mystery in the books, with many people speculating that this spider demon is of the same species as Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
While the Crimson King was referenced in 2020’s The Stand and 2017’s The Dark Tower, this evil overlord has been very much absent from both theaters and TV screens when he should be given much more attention. While he mainly operates from the shadows and through his followers, this ancient evil should be recognized by more people as one of Stephen King’s greatest villains. If The Dark Tower is the author’s Lord of the Rings, then the Crimson King is his Sauron.
While the Crimson King is the big bad of this story, the star villain of The Dark Tower novels is the King’s strongest servant: Randall Flagg. This demonic sorcerer goes around spreading chaos and destruction to whatever civilization he comes across. However, in the books, he goes by Walter O’Dim, or most notably, “The Man in Black.” Alexander Skarsgård portrayed Flagg in 2020’s reboot of The Stand, but his character and the series as a whole didn’t quite resonate with audiences as the studio had hoped.
Nevertheless, having Skarsgård return to play the Man in Black in Flanagan’s series could be just the thing for Flagg to make a lasting impression on audiences not familiar with the character. Skarsgård has already proven himself to be an accomplished actor, and his version of Flagg showed great potential at the end of The Stand. Giving him the right material to work with in The Dark Tower can allow his King’s iconic villain to ascend to a level of popularity now seen in some of the author’s other antagonists, such as Jack Torrance or Pennywise. Whether or not Skarsgård reprises his role is up to Flanagan, so audiences will have to wait and see what form the Man in Black takes next.
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