The idea of a shared universe isn’t something new. Over the last few years, it’s something that has almost become the new normal. If you look at the way comics have straddled popular culture and taken the leap from page to screen it almost seems expected now. People want more from their franchises. When J.J Abrams dropped the one-minute teaser for Castle Rock viewers were given a glimpse into the vast universe of Stephen King.
The World Of Stephen King
Stephen King has a very large fan base that he refers to as a “Constant Reader”. Think Belieber but obsessed with King. I’ve watched the movies, binged the TV shows, read his books and bought all the comics that have had anything to do with him. This is a good time to be a fan of The Master Of Horror.
Castle Rock is but one of a number of projects bearing Stephen King’s name getting released over the next few years. There’s The Dark Tower, IT, Gerald’s Game, The Mist TV series and the recently announced Bill Hodges Trilogy. Aside from worrying how they are all going to be adapted it got me thinking, is it time for a shared TV/Cinematic Stephen King Universe?
There Are Other Worlds Than These
The concept of a shared Stephen King universe is nothing new. If you read any number of his books you will come to realize that King has already built a world for his constant readers. There are landmarks that always stand out. Names that carry meaning to someone who’s read a couple of his stories. He’s built towns from scratch that are richly populated with multiple stories and characters that are all connected. The titular Castle Rock being one of the largest closely followed by Derry. There are a total of 17 Universes in the world of Stephen King, each ready for exploration by new fans.
The pillars of the King literary world have long been considered The Stand, The Dark Tower and IT. If you look at IT, set in the fictional town of Derry. Between the screaming and long term mental damage “The Losers Club” endure, they meet Maturin who is a giant turtle. Furthermore, he aids the children in their final battle with Pennywise. In The Dark Tower, the Turtle is a force of good that is represented as being a pillar of reality. While the main villain in The Dark Tower is the antagonist in The Stand with a different name.
With these books sharing multiple characters it seems that this would the ideal time to jump on the bandwagon. Extend the cinematic universe and have them acknowledge each other. Even a single line from The Man In Black talking about a clown he once knew. Who wouldn’t love to see Matthew McConaughey lead a new cast as Randal Flagg in a reboot of The Stand? Further strengthening the links to a tighter cinematic universe.
All Things Serve The Beam
With The Dark Tower being the central force keeping the multiverse functioning, they would have the means to explain why we have a book universe, a cinematic universe, and a TV universe. Each is a different level of the tower. A single line is all it would take to spark the idea. This takes the concept of the shared sandbox and turns it into a desert. Each can stand on its own merit whilst sharing ideas and characters between in a new and refreshing way. Link back to older movies if needed or simply tie into the upcoming ones. Stephen King has written 54 novels and nearly 200 short stories so there’s no shortage of material to mine.
There was a lot of attention on The Dark Tower movie due to the casting choices of Idris Elba. Followed by the revelation that it’s not an adaptation but a continuation of Kings eight book Magnus Opus. From a creative point of view, this allows the introduction of a shared universe with a clean sheet. If Stephen King has allowed his idea’s to be carried over to a movie bearing little resemblance to his works in The Dark Tower then why not have a throw away comment about a small town called Derry in Castle Rock. The character possibilities through an anthology show are limitless. Show us an older priest passing through from a town called Jerusalem’s Lot before popping up in the movies.
Even with a cynical view on things and looking at it from a purely financial point of view – a shared universe is big bucks. Geeks like to buy stuff. Think for a second about how much money Marvel or DC make from their merchandise. How many Harley Quinn’s did you see last Halloween? How many people, who have no interest in comics, have seen the Avengers and got the t-shirt from their local supermarkets? If Sony played their cards right, not only could we be seeing Idris Elba’s face everywhere, they’d have the chance to push anything relating to another level of the tower.
Extend The Universe
Gone are the days of simply watching a movie, leaving the cinema and then forgetting about it. People want a show, a video game, a comic and a t-shirt. The Dark Tower can feed into IT, which could feed into Castle Rock. Give us a show based on an antique shop where you can find whatever your heart desires for a price, with one of the characters visiting a friend in the neighboring town who mentions an OAP who can suddenly see the aura’s of people around him.
They don’t need to have crossovers. It doesn’t need to be the same writers, producers or air on the same channel but let them be aware of each other and reference the existence of the other. For those who have spent years connecting the King dots and gasping at a tiny connection, this is the dream. At some point, the current comic culture is going to go stale, but scaring people and monsters will never truly go out of fashion. This could be the start of a new book to movie trend, which begs the question – what would you like to see adapted next from Stephen King’s extensive back catalogIs It Time For An Extended Stephen King Universe??