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Why Randall Flagg Keeps Shifting Into A Wolf (Not A Raven)


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The official trailer for CBS’s The Stand depicts Randall Flagg shapeshifting into a wolf rather than a raven – here’s why the series made the change.

In the latest trailer for the upcoming CBS series The Stand, Randall Flagg transforms into a wolf rather than a raven, but why? The Stand is based on Stephen King’s 1978 novel of the same name. Randall Flagg’s character has appeared in several stories, but his first appearance took place during the events of The Stand. He was known for his ability to shapeshift into a raven, but it appears as though the series will focus on his ability to transform into a wolf instead — here’s what this change means, and how it could impact the story of The Stand. 

The series stars Alexander Skarsgård as Randall Flagg, a supernatural and devious sorcerer, who is known for bringing about destruction wherever he goes. The Stand is packed with a star-studded cast that even features returning cast members to the Stephen King universe such as Owen Teague (Harold Lauder), who is known for his portrayal as Patrick Hockstetter in Andy Muschietti’s IT: Chapter One and IT: Chapter Two. It also stars Amber Heard as Nadine Cross, James Marsden as Stu Redman, Greg Kinnear as Glen Bateman, Whoopi Goldberg as Mother Abagail, and Jovan Adepo as Larry Underwood. Over the past several years, King adaptations have continued to grow in popularity with outings in movies and TV such as Castle Rock, The Outsider, Gerald’s Game, and In The Tall Grass. 

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Related: The Stand: How Stephen King’s Writer’s Block Created a Major Plot Twist

The Stand was previously adapted as a miniseries in 1994. Approximately 30 years later, it’s finally being remade into a full series for CBS, and is set to release on December 17, 2020. When a plague and the struggle between good and evil rise to the surface of mankind, the world is taken to an apocalyptic setting where nightmares come to life, with Randall Flagg at the center of it all. The shapeshifting sorcerer was known to appear most often as a raven before, but the upcoming 2020 series will have him transform primarily into a wolf — here’s why.

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The ominous nature of a raven’s appearance has been around for centuries. It is believed to be a bad omen that foreshadows illness, death, and destruction, but they are also regarded as prophetic and insightful. In regards to Flagg’s transformation into one, it’s intended to give off an air of apocalyptic doom, especially in the case of the plague that sweeps through The Stand. Ravens have been noted as the mediators between the realm of the living and the dead. Wolves have several different meanings based in various cultures. Some believe that they signify a warrior spirit, while others tie them closely with the devil and demonic undertakings.

It is likely that Flagg’s transformation into a wolf over a raven is meant to signify that he is a demonic presence among the living. He has nothing but ill-intentions. In the trailer for The Stand, he approaches Mother Abagail and snarls at her as she prays with her prayer beads in hand. He is notably threatened by her ties to religion, which alludes to a connection with the devil. It could also be a reference to the fifth installment in the Dark Tower series, Wolves of the Calla, where Flagg plays a pivotal role in attempting to stop Roland from reaching the tower. Though he does not appear as a wolf, his appearance as one in The Stand may be paying homage to the novel.

The choice to make him shift into a wolf over a raven may also be due to the dominant nature of wolves and the concept of a lone wolf. He has his own selfish intentions in mind and cares not for others. In essence, Randall Flagg is a lone wolf who is singularly focused on destruction. While a raven can serve as an ominous threat, it cannot attack or threaten others in the same was as a wolf, which is another reason why the new version of The Stand has chosen to make Randall Flagg a canine beast instead.

More: How Stephen King’s The Stand Connects To His Book Universe

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Updated: November 18, 2020 — 12:00 am

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