Today, after a decade of development hell and 35 years of reading, the first trailer for the long-awaited The Dark Tower film finally arrived. It's less than three minutes of actual footage, but it's the first really meaty glimpse of the film we've had.
So let's pick it apart as much as possible.
Below, I've gathered more than 20 of the most important moments from the trailer, including powerful visuals, callbacks to the novels, Stephen King Easter eggs and more. Since the film serves as a kind of sequel to King's original series, we can't predict everything, but we can see the similarities, feel the mythology beginning to build and look for exciting variations.
So have a look at the trailer one more time, and then let's get to it.
"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."
One of the earliest images in the trailer is Roland trudging through a wasteland, which is extremely evocative of when we first meet him in King's novels.
Jake is seeing the Gunslinger, the Tower, and the Man in Black in his dreams, and this wall of images is the result. Look closely and you'll see various versions of the Dark Tower, Roland, the Man in Black, a woman (Susannah? Susan?), and what kinda looks like The Wicker Man aflame right next to Jake's head.
When the earth shakes in the office of Jake's therapist, we get a close-up of a photo. That sure looks like The Overlook Hotel from The Shining.
In The Waste Lands, the third Dark Tower novel, Jake has to fight his way back to Roland in Mid-World through a haunted house in New York City. Here that seems to be the way he gets to Roland in the first place, as the house and its gateway between worlds come up several times during the trailer.
Jake lands in Mid-World for the first time, setting up his encounter with the gunslinger and the beginning of their mutual quest.
Our first glimpse of the tower itself (outside of Jake's drawings), and things look ominous.
A close-up of the tower in different light gives us a look at the Beams, which hold the tower up. It's hard to tell, but it appears the 12-spoke design described by King is present here. The explosion could be a "beamquake," a devastating concept introduced in the sixth novel which cripples the tower significantly.
Jake faces some kind of evil force. It's doubtful this is the actual Crimson King, but the bright red presence certainly calls him to mind. More on that later ...
And here's a more concrete evil force to face. The trailer doesn't name this creature, but the novels describe various demons in Mid-World. This could be one of the elementals encountered by Roland and his ka-tet (a group bound by shared fate) in their travels.
Here's The Man in Black, walking through a doorway from what appears to be a snowscape behind him. This doesn't have any particular significance now, but doorways have enormous power in the world of King's novels. And I think the contrast between the snow and the desert where the gunslinger walks is particularly interesting.
More creatures who aren't explicitly named, though they appear several times in the trailer and are clearly antagonisits. If I had to guess, I'd say these are slow mutants, men corrupted by old pollution who now roam Mid-World in various forms with various purposes. These seem like they could be serving the Man In Black, and while that's not necessarily a direct pull from King's books, it's an interesting use for them.
"The world has moved on ..."
By the time we meet Roland, Mid-World has lost much of its civilization. This is just a very pretty visual representation of that.
Jake encounters a rundown carnival with the word "PENNYWISE" present in big festive letters. This is a reference, of course, to IT, which brings us to what we mean when we talk about how The Dark Tower actually contains much of King's other work in the same meta-universe. IT features a benevolent spirit in the form of a turtle, which helps the kids from Derry defeat the evil that takes the form of Pennywise the Clown. This turtle, called Maturin, is actually one of the guardians of the Beams that hold the tower in place and assists Roland in the novels.
This seems to be just a wider shot of the same "beamquake" image we saw earlier, but it's powerful, so I'm highlighting it again.
Can you make out the writing on that wall?
It says "ALL HAIL THE CRIMSON KING."
The King is the ultimate villain of the piece, a powerful evil force who wishes to tear down the tower and rule the empty chaos that will follow. He appears in other King stories, including Insomnia and The Talisman, which makes it clear that he's a threat to the entire multiverse and not just Mid-World.
Jake embraces a woman who might be his housekeeper, Greta. In the original novels, Jake is not close to his parents and grows ever closer to Greta, who he thinks of as a surrogate mother. It's still not clear how much of Jake's New York life we'll see in the film, but this is at least a small glimpse.
Roland is not just a gifted marksman with his guns. He demonstrates a superhuman killing proficiency, and one of the gifts highlighted in the novels is his ability to unload and reload his six-shooters with incredible dexterity. Here we get to see that.
"He who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father ..."
One of the closest parallels between the film and the novels so far is Roland reciting what amounts to a gunslinger code, which he teaches to Jake and his other friends. This speech is directly lifted from King, and hearing those words while watching Roland teach Jake to shoot is one of the trailer's biggest shout-outs to longtime fans.
"... the face of his father."
Roland and his father, Steven Deschain, one of the most powerful men in Mid-World before the fall of Gilead. It's exciting to see this in the trailer, since glimpses of Roland's life before are sometimes scarce. It will be interesting to see how much this version of the story shows us.
Wizard and Glass.
This has no special significance, other than displaying the power of the Man In Black, but the image called to mind the title of the fourth Tower novel, so I thought I'd mention it.
And finally, we see the full power of a gunslinger as Roland stops and listens to the world around him until he finds the perfect shot, through walls and across a great distance. It'll be really interesting to see how many other feats of marksmanship the film rolls out.