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SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers about Stephen King's novel, IT. If you have not read the book, and don't wish to know details of the story before reading for yourself or seeing the forthcoming IT: Chapter 2, you may want to check out another one of our wonderful articles!
Having impressed the world with the recently-released IT, director Andres Muschietti and his team have a challenging mission ahead of them. The film, an adaptation of half of Stephen King's novel, has earned critical-acclaim for its portrayal of the childhood portion of the horror epic, but now exists the challenge of both catching up with the characters as adults and concluding the narrative. The book will obviously be an important tool used to make key decisions for the sequel's approach to the story, and fans will always hope for a faithful adaptation -- but it should be said that there are certain parts of the source material that IT: Chapter 2 should feel free to change or ignore.
The sequel to IT needn't be a direct adaptation of the original story -- whether it's because certain things wouldn't mix with the half of the narrative already told, because somethings just won't work on screen, or because they've become outdated in a modern context. Below and on the next few pages we've highlighted seven of these elements, so read on, and tell us what you think in the comments section!
Keep the amnesia, but speed up the return of the memories
When Mike reunites The Losers Club after 27 years of separation in Stephen King's novel, they are incomplete -- and I'm not just referring to the fact that Stan doesn't show up. Bill, Beverly, Richie, Eddie, and Ben all remember each other and that they grew up in the town of Derry, Maine, but they carry very little recollection of their childhoods, especially their showdown with the evil entity known as It. This fact winds up shepherding the novel's flashback structure, as the reader learns about the past as memories flood back to them, but that's something that the next movie adaptation is going to have to be very careful with.
Andres Muschietti has confirmed that IT: Chapter 2 will feature flashbacks and the return of the young versions of original's central cast, and this is a great thing... provided that the movie doesn't lean on them to heavily. The book can get away with flashbacks as resurrected memories, but that's because first time readers aren't aware of the story. Movie-goers already know what happened to The Losers Club members as kids, so the sequel doesn't have to re-cover all that ground. Instead, the next film would be much better suited creating a different narrative device that recovers memory, and instead use the flashbacks to showcase and create character moments that we haven't already seen.
Don't have Derry change with the times
Bill, Beverly, Richie, Eddie, and Ben return to Derry, Maine from their rich and successful lives in the mid-1980s to find that the town they left has significantly changed. While certain parts remained the same, other key landmarks from their youth -- such as the Aladdin movie theater -- were long gone and replaced by rich investors trying to give the town a new face. In the book it works as a nice reflection of the "You can't go home again" idea, particularly when paired with the aforementioned memory loss -- but there is perhaps a better tactic that the movie adaptation of that part of the story can take.
Rather than having Derry be a town on the rise in the early 21st century, having it be the exact town that The Losers Club forgot could have its own impact on the story being told. Not only could it be used to better help jog characters' memories and reflect that the burb is poisoned by It's presence, but it would even give the filmmakers an opportunity to make a meta comment on the 1980s nostalgia that is rampant in today's pop culture. And if the studio is looking for any extra incentive for this approach, it would mean that the same sets/locations could be used for both modern day and flashback sequences.
Don't have Mike and Eddie be the ones attacked by Henry Bowers
Amazing as horror stories are, it's also a genre that faces a serious threat called "diminishing returns" when it comes to retellings. A moment in a movie may shake you to your core when you're watching it for the first time, but it's naturally going to get less and less scary every time you see it -- and the same happens when material is adapted into a new medium. In its own way, the new IT movie did its part to avoid this by changing out some of the major frights from Stephen King's book. This was a smart move, and it would do IT: Chapter 2 a lot of favors if it found a way to do something similar with the activities of adult Henry Bowers.
In the book, Henry ultimately proves to be a weapon used by It to attack the members of The Losers Club, and only manages to get to two of them before his death. The first is Mike, who he attacks in the library and puts in the hospital, and the other is Eddie, who is assaulted in his hotel room. This rampage should definitely be featured in IT: Chapter 2, as it's important for Henry's arc, but changing up the victims would be healthily appreciated. It would not only be a treat for book readers, who would get to be legitimately surprised by the turn of events on the big screen, but it would also be a nice gift for Mike as a character. Giving him the opportunity to be down in the sewers for the final battle against It would be a nice way to make up for his minimized role in the first movie.
Don't include the underage sex
Of all the scenes in Stephen King's novel that didn't make it to the big screen, this one is easily the most talked about. Inarguably the most controversial scene in the book, there is a portion of the story that is dedicated to a sequence where young Beverly has sex with all of the boys in The Losers Club in hopes of helping them regain their sense of unity following their victory against It. This part of the narrative was not included in Andres Muschietti's movie, with the escape from Its lair being entirely glossed over, but it should be stressed that it shouldn't be included in the sequel either.
I debated whether or not I should even write this section, as most of us probably agree that a sex scene involving pre-pubescents shouldn't be included in a major blockbuster, but I figured I'd say it anyway. It is totally fine if IT: Chapter 2 wants to feature a flashback that takes us back to the Losers Club getting lost and freaked out in the sewers of Derry, but the filmmakers can probably find a more suitable way for the kids to get their wits about themselves and pledge their love for one another. Including the sex scene in the sequel would naturally feel gratuitous, and would probably wind up just being a distraction from the rest of the film.
Don't keep Richie at a radio station
IT: Chapter 2 isn't going to be the exact same as the adult half of Stephen King's book for one standout reason: the time period is going to be completely different. Because Andres Muschietti's movie traded childhood during the late 1950s for the late 1980s, the sequel is going to be set in the year 2016, and that is going to force some natural changes. One of these changes is that Richie shouldn't just be a radio host -- he should be on TV.
While I'm of the opinion that the 1990 miniseries adaptation of IT doesn't quite do the source material justice, I do think that one of the smartest moves it makes is changing Richie's adult career from being a radio DJ to a talk show host. Not only is it a more era appropriate gig for the level of success he's supposed to have, but Finn Wolfhard's version of the character doesn't really do the "Voices" that Richie does in the book, which is what made him so suitable for a career in radio. Based on what we've seen, the big screen take would be much better off behind a desk on late night television cracking jokes about the celebrities he's interviewing.
Let the roles played by Audra and Tom stand out
On beyond its remarkable length, part of what makes IT such a difficult book to adapt is the fact that it has seven distinct protagonists who all have a key role to play in the story. In fact, one of the flaws of the new movie is that Mike and Stan don't quite get the attention they deserve. This will continue to be an issue when it comes to IT: Chapter 2 and telling the story of adult Bill, Beverly, Eddie, Mike, Ben, Stan and Richie, but it would actually be beneficial to the movie to increase that challenge -- specifically by fleshing out the parts played by Audra Phillips (Bill's wife) and Tom Rogan (Beverly's husband).
Audra and Tom are key characters in Stephen King's novel, being strong representatives of what their spouses left behind and forgot in Derry, Maine, but their parts are ultimately very small within the context of a 1,153 page book. In contrast, the movie should reflect that the former is an agency-ridden female character who has a massive impact on the direction on the story; and that the latter can be a terrifying antagonist that Beverly needs to defeat and remove from her life. Given the way that they're set up, King doesn't do quite as much with these characters as you'd expect, but the big screen adaptation can do its part of fix it up a bit.
Don't feel pressure to perfectly portray the Ritual of Chüd
The Ritual of Chüd, a.k.a. the process by which the heroes of IT are able to kill the titular monster is... ummm... weird. As described in the kids' research, it involves a member of the Losers Club biting into the tongue of It, while It bites into their tongue, and they go back and forth telling riddles. In actuality, it's a telepathic battle of wills that has the heroes and villain biting into each other's "mental tongues" while displaying emotional fortitude. By simply trying to imagine this you can probably recognize that adapting it for a movie would be a crazy challenge -- but that's why it's probably a good idea to take a different visual approach when it comes to the finale of IT: Chapter 2.
The end of Andres Muschietti's movie is mostly a physical battle, with the kids taking advantage of It's weaknesses in its Pennywise form, but the sequel will definitely have to up the ante in that department. Given that there is a story to tell 27 years, it makes sense that the film would have an ending that didn't completely destroy the evil entity, but the follow-up should fully commit to the weirdness that is It in its true form, the macroverse, telepathy and the deadlights. That being said, this can be accomplished without the specificity of the Ritual of Chüd, and instead be accomplished with a deeper dive into what makes the Losers stronger as a group and the question of their unity being preordained.