Spoilers for the film IT and the novel on which it is based incoming.
Being a huge fan of Stephen King’s novels and the vastly interconnected universe they contain, IT was one of my most anticipated movies of the year and thankfully the film lived up to my expectations. While I don’t think that it is the best King adaptation to grace the big screen, although it’s certainly close, it is the adaptation that feels the most like a Stephen King book. Based on the gargantuan novel from 1986, the film had to be split into two to give the story justice and with IT becoming the highest grossing horror film of all time, Part 2 (or Chapter 2) will no doubt be in production very soon. As any book reader knows, the second film will detail The Losers’ Club returning to Derry to do battle with Pennywise once again 27 years later. I’ve listed six hopes I have for IT Chapter 2, specifically from the viewpoint of someone very familiar with the source material.
Out of all 7 members of the Losers’ Club, Mike Hanlon is the character we get to know the least about in the first film. He has a couple of great scenes early on and then disappears entirely until the Apocalyptic Rock Fight happens. I admit that the film was fantastic without him and when he turned up again, instead of saying (or thinking) “finally”, my reaction was more like “oh yeah, right, Mike’s here, I’d forgotten about him”. Having me forget about Mike is a testament to how engrossed I was in the minute-to-minute action of the film but looking back I do wish we got more of him. Mike has a big presence in the ‘adult section’ of the book which is intertwined with the story of the kids and separating the two time periods means Mike is absent for a large period. Also in the book, Mike is the one to explain Pennywise’s past with Derry but that was given to Ben in the film. With Mike joining much later I felt like him hugging everyone in the sewers at the end wasn’t earned; I wish, like Beverly, his story was altered to bring him into the Club much earlier. Also removing a lot of his conflict with Henry Bowers didn’t help but it’s a big book and some things had to be omitted. Mike is certainly short-changed in the film and I hope Chapter 2 sets this right by having him maintain his vital role from the book and not give it to Ben this time.
Flashbacks to Past Events
The novel not only focuses on the Losers’ Club’s battle with Pennywise but also contains several journal entries written by Mike which detail the other times in Derry’s history that Pennywise awoke from his slumber to feed. The film gave us some passing mentions, newspaper articles and painted murals teasing these events such as the disappearance of the original Derry settlers (Roanoke-style), the explosion of the Kitchener Ironworks during an easter egg hunt, the Bradley Gang shoot-out and the fire at the Black Spot nightclub. I would love to see some flashbacks to these events in Chapter 2, especially the fire at the Black Spot which features Dick Hallorann, a pivotal character from The Shining. My favourite past event in the book isn’t even mentioned in Chapter 1 which featured lumberjack Claude Heroux performing an incredibly gory massacre in a bar while under Pennywise’s control. It would be difficult to cram these flashbacks into the second film, as much as I would like that, but with IT being a monumental success maybe a franchise will be born and prequel films could be made focusing on these past hauntings of Derry.
A Tease of an Origin
One of the major kid-based sequences from the book that didn’t appear in the film was the smoke-hole. Down in the Barrens the Losers’ Club build a pit, cover it with leaves and then start a fire while they are down there in the hope of receiving a vision inspired by the vision quests of Native American lore. Ritchie and Mike succeed and witness Pennywise’s arrival on Earth millions of years ago. While I’m not the biggest fan of the explanation of what Pennywise is in the book, I’m much more intrigued by the human drama and its relatability, I do hope that there is a tease of Pennywise’s origin in Chapter 2. The villain should be kept mysterious but I hope for some nod to its interdimensional/demonic origins.
The Ritual of Chud. Kinda.
As I eluded to in my last point, Pennywise’s true nature is fairly bizarre, as is the way the Losers’ Club do battle with It in the book. The first film managed to successfully use the ‘fighting your fears’ way of dispatching Pennywise but I hope the second goes back to the source material. At least I think I do. As I said I’m not biggest fan of the origin and nature of Pennywise but I do think the Ritual of Chud does have a place in the film adaptation just maybe not to the degree that it does in the novel. The Ritual of Chud is a battle of wits that (mainly) Bill is drawn into with Pennywise which sees him visit another plane of existence and meet a giant space entity in the form of a Turtle who a long time ago vomited up the known Universe. The Turtle is sleepy and near death which allowed his nemesis Pennywise to come to Earth and feed. We get a couple of easter eggs relating to the Turtle in the first film and even get to see the ‘Deadlights’ but in Chapter 2 I’d like to go a bit further into the metaphysical realm. It shouldn’t all be ‘wacky town’ though because I still want to see Pennywise’s true form and the reveal of the eggs. If they want to turn IT into a franchise then maybe one of those eggs could survive the end of the movie.
Henry Bowers’ fate is left uncertain at the end of Chapter 1 with him being thrown down a very deep well into the unknown abyss, likely dead. In the book however he lives and is locked up in a mental institution after being driven mad by what he saw in the sewers. 27 years later he is broken out by Pennywise and once again becomes his agent of evil, tracking down and trying to kill the Losers’ Club. I really enjoy this plot from the book and hope it isn’t removed from Chapter 2. It could be easy to give Henry’s actions to another character such as Beverly’s husband, Tom Rogan, who also is used by Pennywise in the book but to less effect; he literally dies of fright before the final showdown.
I have a fun little hope for the second film and it’s to see Christine the killer car. In the novel, Pennywise calls on Christine to pick up an injured Henry Bowers and take him to a hotel to murder the Losers’ Club. It’s a small cameo which enforces the interconnectedness of King’s universe and, while not necessary in the slightest, I would love to see the 1958 Plymouth Fury back on the big screen. Christine was the first Stephen King book I read and it’s stuck with me ever since and so a tribute in IT Chapter 2 would be awesome.
What are your hopes for the second chapter of IT? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about TV, movies and videogames on Twitter @kylebrrtt.