What We Learned From ‘The Dark Tower’ Trailer

Kim Taylor-Foster

The Dark Tower trailer has arrived and it promises audiences action, fantasy and horror – as well as elements of a good, old-fashioned western. All seen through the eyes of a young boy.

The epic story, which author Stephen King calls his magnum opus, is finally coming to the big screen this August. The trailer shows us plenty to get excited about – including footage of a cat-and-mouse game playing out between Idris Elba’s Gunslinger character, Roland Deschain, and Matthew McConaughey’s Man in Black.

Here are the key things we picked up from the trailer:

Idris Elba’s Character is a Knight

But knights have swords, don't they?

“For thousands of generations the Gunslingers were knights, sworn to protect us from the coming of the dark,” says Deschain. From this, we learn that not only is Idris Elba’s Gunslinger a good guy, but he’s also upholding a millennia-old vow to protect the worlds. So is there some King Arthur-style mythology embedded into Deschain’s domain? It sounds a bit like the plot of Transformers: The Last Knight to us but that’s no bad thing. We’re looking forward to both.

The Gunslinger’s World Spills into Jake’s

Yes, there’s some cross-dimensional shenanigans going on – in the trailer we see Jake hop through a portal into Deschain’s world and we also see the Gunslinger reciprocate with a visit to Jake’s. The Man in Black pops up in New York too, of course, but that’s par for the course.

Before all that, though, and quite aside from Jake’s ‘visions’, there are actual physical reverberations felt in Jake’s world. Jake’s bed quakes and then later in his psychiatrist’s office, we – and crucially the shrink – see the desk shake. In the book, this is known as a beamquake and occurs when the tower is under attack.

Deschain Trains Jake to Be a Gunslinger

Just point and shoot, you say?

We see Jake and Roland side by side, aiming guns as if they’re practicing. Roland is passing on his wisdom, telling Jake: “I do not shoot with my hand, I shoot with my eye. I do not kill with my gun, I kill with my heart.”

Could Jake be being groomed to take over from Deschain? That’s if Jake doesn’t die of course – McConaughey’s Man in Black taunts the Gunslinger with this line: “Did you ever tell the kid whoever walks with you dies by my hand?”

Deschain, however, promises to kill the Man in Black for the both of them.

The Slow Mutants Appear?

These nefarious dudes are a bit like Sand People

A bit like more sinister Sand People, the Slow Mutants of the books are a mutated form of human being, and they are hostile. In the trailer, the band that we see in the Tatooine-like location are clad in dark clothes with coverings over their menacing grey faces. They have gnarled, grey hands, and weapons are rudimentary blades and arrows or spears.

Alternatively, they could be Low Men or Taheen. Both breeds in the books have animal heads, however – these heads are much more human-like.

Deschain’s Father Is Significant

A touching father/son moment from the trailer

In the trailer, our Gunslinger hero has a touching moment with his father, which appears to be a flashback – we see it as he’s talking about remembering the face of his father. He is clearly important for Roland – he says, “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.” This suggests that there is still a strong and vital bond between the two. But not only that, Deschain Sr. seems to be pretty significant to the story – the trailer signals that the film will delve into the Gunslinger’s back story.

This moment also opens up the theme of fathers and sons. We don’t see Gunslinger-companion Jake’s father in the trailer, only his mother (presumably). So it looks like the filial relationship Jake will foster with Roland will explore this theme and prove key for both characters.

The Elemental Demons Feature

Dark Tower
Jake in bed just after the demon appears to him

We caught a glimpse of what appears to be the Dutch Hill Mansion Demon – a demon that is formed from the walls and floorboards of its surroundings. It picks up and spins Jake through the air. There’s another scary-looking demon with big teeth in a forest area later on which could potentially be an Oracle or, at a push, the Speaking Demon of the books.

There’s also a demon early on which appears from above while Jake is in bed, seemingly appearing to him in one of his ‘dreams’ or ‘visions’. A horrific manifestation of a Succubus perhaps? It could be the same toothy demon we catch sight of in the forest.

The Crimson King is a Thing

See that writing on the wall there? That's important, that is

On the walls of the dilapidated house – the same location in which we see the floorboard demon attack Jake – that the Man in Black is walking through, graffiti on the wall reads: “All hail the Crimson King”. The Crimson King of the novel is the force behind the chaos. He’s the one who is trying to destroy the tower that protects both the Gunslinger’s world and “Earth”, as Jake refers to his (our) realm.

Stephen King Easter Eggs

Dark Tower
The Overlook Hotel from The Shining, look!

There are references to both The Shining and It hidden within the trailer. First, we see a photograph of the Overlook Hotel from Stanley Kubrick’s film version of The Shining in Jake’s psychiatrist’s office. This suggests efforts to build in links with King’s cinematic universe. As does the second Easter Egg we spotted – Jake chances upon a ruined circus sign which reads ‘Pennywise’. And next to it? A bunch of balloons!

The Dark Tower is released in the US on August 4 and the UK on August 18.

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.