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Author Stephen King’s contributions to the horror genre are monumental and myriad, but perhaps none is so iconic and firmly ingrained in pop culture as his 1986 tome IT. First adapted into a cheap, albeit fondly remembered, if only for Tim Curry’s performance, TV mini-series in 1990, King’s epic finally received the feature film treatment it deserved in 2017, courtesy of director Andy Muschietti. IT was a massive success, both critically and commercially, becoming the biggest horror movie of all time.
But Stephen King’s decades-spanning tale couldn’t fit in just one movie, so it was split into two. The second of those films, IT Chapter Two, arrives in theaters this weekend, and judging by the box office tracking, there’s a good chance you and a whole lot of other people are planning on seeing it. It’s been two years since the last film though, and unless you’ve revisited it since then or caught the recent re-release, you might not remember all of the goings-on in Derry, Maine.
Accordingly, before you head into theaters for nearly three hours of clown-induced terror, a refresher course is in order to get up to speed on who the members of The Losers’ Club are, who Pennywise is, the mythology at play and what happened at the end of IT that sets up where we find our heroes in IT Chapter Two. So float down the page to read everything you need to remember about IT before IT Chapter Two.
The Losers’ Club
Like the party from Stranger Things, the kids from Stand By Me and the Goonies, the Losers’ Club is one of the most iconic friend groups in childhood adventure stories. The Losers’ Club is a group of pre-teen friends living in Derry, Maine. The group is led by the hopeful and brave Bill Denbrough, and comprised of the tomboy Beverly Marsh, the foul-mouthed Richie Tozier, shy new kid Ben Hanscom, selfless Mike Hanlon, germaphobe Eddie Kaspbrak and nervous Stan Uris.
The Losers’ Club is so dubbed because the members of the group view themselves as losers due to how they’re treated at school and at home. Bullies in town constantly pick on them and they each come from an imperfect home, with parents that range from absent and emotionally unavailable to outright abusive. The Losers find comfort in each other, protect one another and are bonded forever through shared trauma.
Although some of the members of this group were friends before the story of IT began, the group really comes together and becomes complete during the events of 1989. Over the course of IT, the members of the Losers’ Club each have encounters with Pennywise and the group is at times divided on what to do about the killer clown. When Beverly is taken by IT, the group unites to save her, journeying in to the sewers for a showdown with the creature.
The Bowers Gang
Just as the Losers’ Club are the heroes of IT, the Bowers Gang are the villains. Well, the human villains at least. This group of teens is slightly older than the Losers’ Club and spends the majority of its time tormenting the citizens of Derry, the Losers’ Club in particular. The leader of the gang is Henry Bowers, an extremely violent bully who threatened the lives of the members of the Losers’ Club and got into physical and verbal altercations with the group on multiple occasions throughout the first film, including a huge rock fight.
Despite being despicable characters, Henry Bowers, Victor Criss, Belch Huggins and Patrick Hockstetter are no more immune to IT’s malice than their kind counterparts in the Losers’ Club. While chasing Ben, Patrick goes into the sewers, and there he is found by Pennywise, who kills him. Pennywise also influences the wildly unstable Henry Bowers to go off the deep end and murder his abusive father.
Towards the end of the film, Henry Bowers follows the Losers’ Club into the house on Neibolt Street. As the Losers climb down into the well, Henry attacks Mike and tries to kill him. Mike prevails though, pushing Henry down the well, seemingly to his death. We don’t see a body though, and if Henry survived the fall (he did), that leaves the door open for him to once again enter the story in IT Chapter Two.
You don’t find out exactly who or what IT is in the 2017 film, but thanks to Ben’s research, we know that IT has been haunting Derry for some time, causing people, and especially children, to disappear at a rate much higher than the national average. Tragic events resulting in the losses of many lives occur every 27 years in Derry, and they’re all tied back to IT. This supernatural creature lives in the sewers and most often appears as Pennywise, the Dancing Clown.
At the beginning of the first movie, Pennywise kills Bill’s little brother Georgie, leading to Bill’s quest to find his brother and ultimately, to defeat IT. IT preys on the people of Derry, messing with their heads and taking the form of whatever scares them most. IT feeds off that fear to sustain itself. There is a lot about IT’s origins, its nature and its true form that is part of the book that the first film doesn’t get into, so hopefully we’ll learn more about him in Part Two.
Pennywise haunts the Losers’ Club throughout the first film, and when he takes Beverly Marsh into his lair, it leads to a showdown with the young friends. The Losers’ Club works together to put a serious beating on IT. They ultimately prevail, but while it could seem like they defeated it for good, they merely caused the creature to retreat into early hibernation. As evidenced by the existence of a second film, he will return to hunt again in IT Chapter Two.
The Love Triangle
As the only girl in the Losers’ Club, Beverly Marsh is the object of much fascination in the group. At the beginning of IT, she is kind to the new kid Ben Hanscom and he immediately develops a crush on her. Ben secretly writes Beverly a poem that she cherishes and takes to be from her crush Bill. We learn that Beverly and Bill previously shared a kiss in a school play, and Beverly is disappointed when she figures out that Bill didn’t give her the poem.
Still, Bill and Beverly’s feelings for each other grow during the film, something Ben takes notice of. When the Losers’ Club goes to save Beverly from Pennywise, they find her suspended in midair in some sort of trance. In their desperate attempts to wake her, while Bill is off looking for Georgie, Ben kisses Beverly. This wakes Beverly up and she realizes that Ben was the one who wrote her the poem, quoting a verse to him, which he completes.
Despite this kiss, the first movie ends with Bill and Beverly. Following their defeat of IT and the pact, the group slowly peels off and goes home until Bev and Bill are alone. When Beverly says she's leaving to go live with her aunt in Portland, Bill finally makes a move and kisses her, a kiss she returns. That seemingly sets these two up to rekindle their romance in IT Chapter Two.
The Pact & Why Mike Stayed In Derry
After seemingly defeating Pennywise in the sewers, Bill asks the group to make a pact, saying, “Swear if it isn’t dead, if it ever comes back, we’ll come back too.” The group all agrees, making a blood oath to return to fight Pennywise in the future should the need arise. The reason they would have to come back is because they don’t plan on staying in Derry forever. Derry sucks and the Losers’ Club all moves away in the 27 years after the first film, all except Mike Hanlon.
Mike stayed behind in Derry as a sentry as his friends in the Losers’ Club all moved away, and if the movie adheres to the story from the books, he is the one that calls them all back upon Pennywise’s return. According to director Andy Muschietti, when Mike stayed behind in Derry, he became something of a librarian junkie, an amateur historian collecting information about Pennywise and trying to discover a way to defeat him for good.
As Mike’s voiceover tells us in the trailer for IT Chapter Two, the farther away you get from Derry, the more you forget about the town and what really happened there. So while the rest of the Losers’ Club won’t remember Pennywise or will chalk the events up to childhood nightmares, Mike will act as their collective memory reminding them of the truth and the oath they made.
This is just an overview to refresh your memory, and if you get a chance to re-watch the first film before seeing the sequel, you totally should. Now that you’re ready to witness the end of IT, you can catch Andy Muschietti’s IT Chapter Two in theaters on September 6. The reviews have hit the web and IT Chapter Two looks to be headed for a massive opening weekend.
Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of all this year’s biggest movies.