Actors Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey have been cast as the two leads in the upcoming fantasy franchise, The Dark Tower.
The book series consists of eight books that stretch across Stephen King’s entire oeuvre and incorporates various genres, such as western, fantasy, sci-fi and dimension-hopping.
The story focuses on the main character, the last gunslinger, Roland Deschain. He is on a journey to a mysterious tower that acts as the center of the universe, while a man from his foggy past chases him across a barren landscape.
The film has been in development limbo for five years or more. (There were rumors that Ron Howard and Guillermo del Toro might direct, but those possible hires fell through.) At the moment, the film only has its two main leads.
The news broke from King himself via Twitter.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, “His reveal came in a familiar form for fans of the series, which launched with 1982’s The Dark Tower; the tweet quoted the first line of that first book, referencing the novel’s antagonist Randall Flagg (the man in black) and hero, Roland Deschain, the gunslinger in question.”
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) March 1, 2016
— Idris Elba (@idriselba) March 1, 2016
— Matthew McConaughey (@McConaughey) March 1, 2016
Fans of the series noted that this particular production would be almost impossible to complete because of the size and scope of the universe. Others noted that Elba’s race would be a problem on Twitter.
Can't wait to see all of the "I'm not racist but" takes now that the Dark Tower casting is finalized
— 3rd String Beefcake (@UweBollocks) March 1, 2016
Idris Elba as Roland Deschain? I can honestly say I never saw this coming, but god damn if he won't be a perfect Roland.
— Chris Barmonde (@RazorCrusade) March 1, 2016
However, Facebook users were different.
In fall of 2015, Elba was the victim of racist vitriol on social media because there were rumors of him becoming the next James Bond after Daniel Craig. According to fans, Bond is “supposed” to be white. The irony is that real Black people — like Michael Jackson for example — are routinely cast as white even though their Black heritage is documented. The fact that a white fictional character is cast as a POC upsets fans even when the author or creator supports the decision.
— H. D. Harris (@Hdharris_irl) March 1, 2016
Idris Elba is the perfect choice to play Roland in "The Dark Tower" – my baby finally has a franchise! James Bond be damned.
— Film Fatale NYC (@FilmFatale_NYC) March 1, 2016
Some fans — well before the casting news — already had issues:
Someone please explain the Dark Tower film to me. Idris Elba=Roland but no Susannah but there is a white "female lead" wtf is all this
— Erin Mehlos (@squidbunny) February 20, 2016
They just ruined the most epic movie in HISTORY by putting Idris Elba as Roland Deschain in the Dark Tower!!! ANSON MOUNT IDIOTS.
— Debbie Collins (@DebbieCollins01) February 19, 2016
The Dark Tower is scheduled for release January 2017.