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Warning: SPOILERS for IT Chapter Two ahead!
Mark Patton, the star of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, loved the Easter egg in IT Chapter Two. In Andy Muschietti’s 2019 film, Bill Hader’s character, the adult Richie Tozier, wears a yellow button-up shirt with a pattern of crosses or X’s on it. Although not exact, it is very similar to the shirt Mark Patton wore in 1985’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, in which he played the lead Jesse Walsh. Whats more, he was a sensitive character that was seen as possibly being gay, although that was not explicit.
IT Chapter Two makes a change from Stephen King’s novel when it is revealed that Richie Tozier is gay and he was in love with Eddie Kaspbrak. So to have him wear the same shirt as A Nightmare on Elm Street 2’s Jesse Walsh is a hint at his sexuality, as well as homage to that previous film. Mark Patton for one loved it. He said:
I'm thrilled with it. It was funny, people on the internet, they really get in an argument about it. I don't want to denigrate straight people in any way, but straight guys would [say], 'Why do you have to do that to everything?' And we know what we're talking about. Costume designers, they put those tropes in there all the time. They're coding you, constantly.
Mark Patton seems to be really happy with IT Chapter Two’s callback to Freddy’s Revenge and his part in that film. The homosexual subtext of Freddy’s Revenge and the reaction to it was detrimental to the career of Mark Patton, a gay man. So it must have been a nice surprise when he saw this Easter egg or when it was first brought to his attention to know that that film and his role in it haven’t been forgotten.
In his comments at Fantastic Fest, as reported by SYFY Wire, Mark Patton mentions that he saw arguments on the internet about the Easter egg, which is completely unsurprising. In his view, some straight men might take issue with the Easter egg because it could be seen as bashing you over the head with a message.
Yet in his mind, you’re being sent a message all the time in film from costume designers whether you pick up on them or not. This just happens to be one that people picked up on. I suspect in reality, most people didn’t know about this while actually watching IT Chapter Two and only found out after. As Easter eggs go, it’s a pretty deep cut that requires you to know a lot and have a great costume memory.
You can see the two shirts compared in the image below.
This Easter egg wasn’t simply a reference from IT Chapter Two to one of its predecessors in the genre in a ‘hey, remember this?’ kind of way. The Easter egg worked on multiple levels.
First it references A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and Jesse Walsh. It also hints at Richie’s sexuality before that is ever revealed in IT Chapter Two. Moreover, it acts as something of a commentary or tribute to Jesse Walsh and Mark Patton because although Jesse wasn’t explicitly gay, that was the perception and Mark Patton actually is gay, just like Richie in the movie.
Finally the shirt is somewhat symbolic of Richie being unable to hide who he truly is, it’s literally on his sleeve. He can hide it perhaps from the Loser’s Club, but not from himself and not from Pennywise who will exploit that fear of discovery.
IT Chapter Two is now playing. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of this fall’s biggest movies.