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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!
Every film adaptation of a book features changes from the source material. Whether it's because there isn't enough space in the story to feature every detail, or because certain things just don't translate to cinema, these alterations are generally done with the best intentions, and the hopes of making the big screen experience of the story. That being said, pretty much any book that's being turned into a movie also has elements that filmmakers really shouldn't mess with at all, and Stephen King's IT is no exception.
Earlier I wrote a feature detailing the parts of IT that can easily be ignored by IT: Chapter 2 -- the upcoming sequel to Andres Muschietti's film that will tell the story of the kid heroes as adults -- but now it's time to flip that approach. There are a ton of moments in Stephen King's novel that we're hotly anticipating, but below and on the next few pages we've highlighted seven that we think would be particularly important for the adaptation. Read on, and tell us what you think in the comments section below!
Include Stan's suicide
It takes very little time reading IT to learn about the first member of The Losers Club who dies. In the first few chapters of the book, Stanley Uris gets a call from Mike Hanlon telling him that It has returned, and that he needs to return to Derry -- but he doesn't have the same reaction as Bill, Beverly, Eddie, Richie, and Ben, who all put their lives on hold and quickly leave their respective homes. Instead, Stan goes to the second floor of his house, locks the door, runs a bath, and proceeds to slit his wrists with a razor. It's an event that hits you like a ton of bricks even before you get to know who Stan is, which is why it definitely needs to be included in the next movie.
Prior to the description of his terrible death in Stephen King's book, readers only know of Stan as a young man who grew up in Derry, Maine and went on to become a successful accountant living in Atlanta, Georgia. Thanks to Andres Muschietti's movie and the performance by Wyatt Oleff, however, that's not the case for fans experiencing the story on the big screen, as audiences now know the full details of what he went through as a pre-pubescent fighting evil with his friends. This is certainly going to make his suicide even more impactful than it was in the novel, which is why it has to be adapted into IT: Chapter 2.
Feature the death of Adrian Mellon
When It came out of its hibernation in the late 1950s, it was young George 'Georgie' Denbrough who wound up being its first victim in the year-long cycle of violence and death in Derry, Maine. When the creature came back around in the mid-1980s, however, it was the death of Adrian Mellon that marked the start of the resurrected terror. As we learn in the early chapters of Stephen King's book, Mellon was a young homosexual man who loved Derry, and he was killed by three homophobes who severely beat him and threw him over the bridge following a town festival. It's a startling and horrific sequence in the book, and it would be a seriously dark and disturbing way to open IT: Chapter 2.
Pop culture awareness of IT made audiences everywhere fully aware of how Andres Muschietti's adaptation would begin -- which admittedly did its part to soften the impact -- but the Pennywise-influenced hate crime murder of Adrian Mellon would be a shocking way to open IT: Chapter 2. Not only is the sequence still sadly socially relevant even after the story's time period change (the setting will move from 1985 to 2016), but it makes sense to include upfront given that it's the event that influences Mike to bring The Losers Club back together. It would have to be handled tastefully, but it would be a quick way to immediately bring audiences to the edges of their chairs.
Use a flashback structure
Structurally, Andres Muschietti's IT is basically as linear as movies get, with everything moving in order and the story only featuring one time jump and one extended montage. This, of course, is a huge deviation from the book, which unfolds with the narrative going back and forth between the late 1960s and the mid-1980s. This wound up working well for the new film, but we have to admit that we're happy that the sequel will apparently take on a non-linear structure.
Muschietti has confirmed that Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor and Jack Dylan Grazer will be back in IT: Chapter 2, and there are many reasons to be excited about this news. The first is that it would be sad if we had to say goodbye to this young ensemble forever, given how great they are together. The second is that it will allow the story to travel back in time mid-narrative and add new things to the story that the first movie just didn't have time to cover. This could ultimately not only make IT: Chapter 2 richer, but the also the inevitable experience that will be watching the two features back-to-back. This would be a great way to show more of Mike's life and upbringing -- which is cut short in IT -- but there will also be the opportunity to...
Expand the story of Henry Bowers
Henry Bowers, played by Nicholas Hamilton, only gets a handful of scenes in IT -- including his bridge tumble with Ben, the Rock War, murdering his father, and facing off with Mike in the Neibolt House -- but the movie doesn't really give us much more context beyond that. The movie doesn't show much of his abusive upbringing or his specific relationships with the Losers. Of course, due to the aforementioned flashback structure, this could easily be remedied in the future.
Stephen King's novel features a key role for the adult Henry Bowers, who has been committed to an institution for the criminally insane and winds up being a tool of It, but there is also plenty of material that can be mined in flashback sequences. Sure, you can't have Henry be the one responsible for breaking Eddie's arm as he is in the book, but the filmmakers could surely find a way to have IT: Chapter 2 include his attempt to cheat of Ben's test in class; the horribleness of his racist, violent father; and maybe even the showdown with Richie, Beverly and Ben outside the movie theater. Henry is an important character in IT and deserves a big screen adaptation of the role worthy of his significance in the horror epic.
Have Beverly and Audra look alike
The 1990 miniseries adaptation of IT changed a number of parts from the book in order to A) fit the runtime, and B) meet with network television standards, but one of the oddest alterations made was the appearance of Audra Phillips, Bill's wife. Played by actress Olivia Hussey, she has long, straight black hair, tan skin, and an English accent, but this is far from how she's described by Stephen King. In the novel, Audra actually has a strikingly similar appearance to Beverly, and that's something Andres Muschietti & Co. should keep in mind when casting IT: Chapter 2.
In the novel, readers first learn that Audra Phillips and Beverly Marsh have similar appearances from the perspective of Tom Rogan of all people -- but what's significant about it is what it reveals about Bill's psyche. The leader of the Losers Club may have totally forgotten about his childhood friends and his battles with It, but one thing his subconscious carried with him into adulthood is his love for Beverly. While his love for Audra is certainly genuine, as proven by the end of the story, this would still be a nice character element to include in the sequel, and, as I've previously written about, give the film the opportunity to cast both Amy Adams and Jessica Chastain.
Let us see It's perspective, with or without the Turtle
Stephen King delivers a whole hell of a lot when it comes to dealing with character perspective in It. Over the course of the giant book, not only do we get to see events through the eyes of the seven main heroes, but even a few supporting characters, and, yes, It itself. It's in these select pages that the story really gets into the true nature of It, where it comes from, and what it's purpose is -- and it would frankly be utterly fascinating to see the next movie cover that ground.
Admittedly this is a request that offers a serious challenge to the filmmakers behind IT: Chapter 2, as it's not exactly easy to cinematically let audiences in on the details regarding an ancient mythical force that has perpetuated for eternity, existing outside the macroverse and feeding off of fear and weakness. That being said, it's ground that can certainly be covered in seriously trippy and fantastical fashion, possibly during the final showdown between It and the Losers Club. Should the movie commit to the crazy telepathic battle that is required to defeat It in Stephen King's book, that same section could be used to help explain the nature and history of the entity, and provide a weight to the mythology that the previous adaptation totally lacked. Whether or not this leads Andres Muschietti to include the force for good that is Maturin a.k.a. The Turtle is up to the director -- but given his past comments on the matter, fans probably shouldn't expect him to turn up.
Make It have to try harder to scare the adults
By itself, IT is a very scary movie -- but there is also an extent to which it's playing with kid gloves. After all, the forms that Pennywise takes are all intended to horrify child characters, and children are a lot easier to scare than adults. In Stephen King's book, It even acknowledges as much during the aforementioned section focusing on It's perspective, noting how much easier it is to exploit the imagination of youth. This is a part of the book that the IT: Chapter 2 filmmakers definitely need to focus on, as the next portion of the story should really be a lot darker and more disturbing than the half that is now playing in theaters everywhere.
What it essentially comes down to is that adults have different kinds of fears and stresses that Pennywise can feed on, and while it's legitimately harder to go after grown-up prey (It is admittedly not much of a shapeshifter), the entity also has revenge motivating it. Because of this, it would be really great to see the sequel go in a much darker direction tonally than the laugh-filled Chapter 1, with It truly upping the ante when it comes to the evil that exists in Derry and the terror that it inspires. It would not only be refreshing to see a blockbuster follow-up dedicated to not just doing the same thing all over again, but there also exists the potential for IT: Chapter 2 to be one of the scariest Stephen King adaptations ever made.