‘IT: Chapter Two’: What Fans Can Expect (and Hope) to See in the Sequel
You may have heard about a little film called IT. In case you haven’t, IT is director Andrés Muschietti‘s adaptation of a classic Stephen King horror novel by the same name. Its story revolves around a group of kids who call themselves the Losers Club and who band together one summer to fight back against an ancient evil entity that appears mainly as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Because IT absolutely blew away box office estimates, a sequel is unofficially 100% on the way from New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. And it’s to that sequel that we turn today to talk about what we know so far and what we can expect to see in IT: Chapter Two.
IT screenwriter Gary Dauberman will return to script the sequel, which is likely due out sometime in 2019. (Be sure to see what Dauberman had to say about writing the first movie in this interview.) While it sounds like the 80s Losers will be back in some fashion for the follow-up film, the young cast has already turned in their wish list for who should play their older selves in the sequel. No casting announcements have been made just yet, but if this dream cast comes together, it’d be a pricey one.
If you need a refresher on the ending of IT, click here, otherwise here’s your big, fat, clown-shaped spoiler warning. Folks who haven’t watched the new movie nor the 1990 miniseries, and haven’t read the book, turn back now unless you don’t care about spoilers.
Just in case you scrolled on down without heeding the spoiler warning, here are a few of our recent IT articles to save your skin:
- ‘IT’: Here’s Everything the Hit Horror Movie Changed from Stephen King’s Classic Novel
- Let’s Talk About Pennywise: What Exactly Is Stephen King’s ‘IT’?
- ‘IT’ Producers on the Evolution of Pennywise, Deleted Scenes, and ‘Chapter Two’
If you’re still here, you’re already as as versed in the world of IT as a person can be and you’d like to know what will come in IT: Chapter Two. So let us descend…
The Losers Club
Things to keep in mind: The script is still in progress and no final casting decisions have been made or announced just yet. The following details may change.
Clearly the Losers will return. Having survived the attacks of Pennywise in the late 1980s, the unsung heroes of Derry inevitably go their separate ways as they grow up and grow apart. But since the cycle of terror occurs roughly every 27 years, something (or someone) will draw them back together to their hometown from all corners of the Earth once Pennywise recovers to rise again. That’s right, we’ll be seeing the adult version of the lovable Losers in the prime of their lives and in the 21st century, i.e. our contemporary era. Hopefully we’ll get to spend a little time with successful author Bill and his actress wife Audra, fashion designer Beverly and her abusive husband Tom, trim architect Ben, businessman Eddie and his overbearing wife Myra, LA disc jockey Richie Tozier, librarian Mike, and accountant Stan and his wife Patty before shifting gears to their return to Derry.
One of the many great things about King’s novel is its structure: The childhood and adulthood tales are interwoven throughout the book so that the reader is experiencing the parallel stories together in time. Roughly speaking, the first gathering of the Losers in childhood mirrors that of their adult selves coming together in a reunion; the encounters with Pennywise in adulthood echo back to their childhood run-ins with the clown; and the final assaults on the monster are synced up to end the overall novel. It’s a thrilling way to read a story, especially one like this.
This is all to say that the movie version of IT has disrupted that structure by splitting the two parallel stories down the middle. We’ve already heard from Muschietti that the way they hope to pay homage to the book’s structure in the sequel is to use flashback sequences with the younger versions of the cast members. This not only serves as a way to jumpstart the adults’ memories—which have become foggy with age and distance from Derry—but also to heighten both the terror in each scene and to reveal a possible solution that can end it all. It’s going to be a tough juggling act from the writing, directing, and editing perspectives, but I think this team can pull if off.
And, of course, our Losers will have a fighting chance at pulling off the impossible and putting a resurgent Pennywise to rest for good since they’ve done it once before, but how will they know that he’s back to begin with? In the book, Mike was the one who chose to stay behind rather than flee Derry. The fact that the rest of the Losers leave for 27 years has a few effects: It isolates Mike, leaving him to deal with not only the memory of that childhood horror but the realization that IT still lurks beneath and throughout his town; and it spares the other Losers from having to face what Mike faces on a daily basis—essentially allowing them to live their lives—but it also causes them to forget, as if it were all a bad dream. Mike may be the one to bring them all back together, but it turns out that that is not an easy task at all.
King’s Mike was the model of a stalwart and trustworthy friend who kept meticulous notes as the town’s librarian, keeping track of any sign that IT was back while also taking stock of his Losers and their place in the world. Muschietti’s Mike, however, takes a very different path. As EW reports:
My idea of Mike in the second movie is quite darker from the book. I want to make his character the one pivotal character who brings them all together, but staying in Derry took a toll with him. I want him to be a junkie actually. A librarian junkie. When the second movie starts, he’s a wreck.
Muschietti said he wanted to “infuse more agency to [Mike] in those 30 years we don’t visit.”
He’s not just the collector of knowledge of what Pennywise has been doing in Derry. He will bear the role of trying to figure out how to defeat him. The only way he can do that is to take drugs and alter his mind. It resonates with what the kids do when they go to the smokehouse in the Barrens [in the book]. By inhaling these fumes from the fire they have visions of It, and the origin of It, and the falling fire in the sky that crashed into Derry millions of years ago. We’ve brought that to Mike, by the end of those 30 years Mike has figured out the Ritual of Chüd.
So it sounds like Muschietti is going to introduce some mind-altering substances as a way of revealing IT’s origins without getting too celestial and cosmic about the whole thing (though the Turtle may make another appearance…). Poor Mike is going to have to shoulder that burden, a pivotal one which will certainly play a role in the team’s casting process.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but not all the Losers are going to make it out of this one alive. In fact, not all of the Losers are even going to make it to Derry alive. Some find that making the trip back home to face the darkness of their childhood is harder than they thought it would be, and one finds it impossible to do so.
EW has more from the Muschiettis about the member of the Losers Club who won’t be making the return trip to Derry 27 movie years from now. I’ll keep that mega spoiler a surprise (and use a gender-neutral pronoun to talk about it) because it’s too big a plot point to read out of the context of the story. Here’s what Andy Muschietti told EW:
“There is something in the future for [them], taking [their] own life, that finds its seed in this film. [They are] the one who doesn’t want to accept what’s going on. And being the one who didn’t want to participate [they get] the worst part.”
Barbara Muschietti followed up on it:
“The thing about [them] is [they don’t] bend, [they] break.”
In the book, this death scene sets the tone for the rest of the story since it happens early on without much explanation at all. In the film’s sequel, I expect that it will act as a slap in the face to audience members to let them know that shit’s about to get real.
The Losers aren’t the only characters who get to grow up, and the young hero cast members might not be the only ones who get to show up in the sequel. In the book, Henry Bowers survives the horror of the sewers and escapes but is soon captured and imprisoned for numerous murders. His rap sheet lands him an extended stay in an asylum, a facility which the deranged Bowers escapes roughly 27 years after Pennywise is temporarily defeated. (I wonder if the killer clown will have anything to do with this…) The movie left Henry’s fate purposefully vague. It was a heroic moment for Mike to send the sadistic bully plummeting to his presumed death at the bottom of a very deep well, but I can’t imagine that’s the end of Bowers. Not only do these two have a long family feud in the book that’s ultimately concluded in the adult timeline, but removing a flesh-and-blood villain from the sequel would be a huge misstep, in my opinion. Expect Bowers to come back.
So while Henry is able to roam relatively free through Derry to seek his own revenge when the Losers return to town, he’s just as haunted by his childhood experiences as the Losers themselves. I mentioned in a previous explainer that IT takes the guise of both Belch Huggins and Victor Criss–long dead by the time this story rolls around in the books—in order to both torment and guide Henry around town. There’s a good chance that their younger counterparts may return, though since they didn’t accompany Henry to the sewers in the first film, it remains to be seen whether they’ll show up at all. Hopefully, they’ll reunite with Henry in a flashback sequence and meet a gruesome end, only to return in ghoulish form 27 years later. Fingers crossed.
One minor disappointment I had with the first film was the refusal to let Derry live and breathe as a small town. The establishing shot was nice, the scenes at the quarry and the downtown crossroads (where all the in-town action seemed to happen) were fine, but it felt more like set dressing than a lived-in community. That sense of community, and IT’s perversion of it, is at the heart of the story; the apple of Derry is rotten at its core but its skin appears unblemished and unbroken … for a while.
Places that appeared very briefly in the first film will hopefully get a more extended stay in the sequel. The Standpipe, which plays a big role throughout the book, was only glimpsed in earnest in one scene and as a miniature model held by Ben in another. I’m hoping the sequel finds time and reason to revisit this iconic place. Another scene that easily could have been missed by casual viewers was the bridge overlooking the canal during the Derry fair. In the adult timeline, bullies beat up a homosexual couple walking along this bridge and throw one of the men over it. This is actually the site of IT’s reawakening as it kills the fallen man. A pretty brutal start to the new story, especially when the first film (briefly) established this as a beautiful place for families and small-town fun.
A scene that’s been talked about as a potential opener for the sequel occurs at the Black Spot, a dance club and bar originally opened by William Hanlon and his fellow Black military pals, exclusively for Black patrons. Eventually, the Black Spot opened up its doors to other people, but the Maine Legion of White Decency burned it down, killing most of the people who were trapped inside. This is one of the appearances of IT in William’s own timeline before Mike was born and it could very well arrive in the sequel as a flashback sequence.
There’s another important reason that Derry needs to be featured more in the sequel. The town itself actually helps to restore the Losers’ lost memories, vital pieces of the puzzle in their fight against Pennywise. This offers a perfect opportunity for the Losers to go off and explore on their own while showing off how Derry has changed (for the better or the worse) and to find out what old and new horrors await them there.
And the final reason for the importance of establishing Derry as a living town is that, well, it may not be alive forever. If IT and its perverse power are what sustains the town and its people, then if IT dies, Derry might just die with it … and in spectacular fashion, I’d imagine.
Pennywise the Clown
The defeat of Pennywise at the end of the first film would have been just fine in a world where IT didn’t make $123.1 million domestically in its opening weekend or where horror films didn’t turn into franchises that keep resurrecting the supposedly dead Big Bad for years to come. But in the case of the movie version of IT, the return of Pennywise is a necessity since the story is only halfway told.
That’s good news for fans of King’s original tale and for those of us who want to see more of the killer clown. The other bit of good news is that Bill Skarsgard is expected to return in the role he’s made infamous.
While I don’t expect the design of Pennywise to change much—the clown itself should be a consistent anchor, terrifying in childhood and in the adults’ memories alike—I expect his tactics to have matured over these 27 years. Rather than directly attacking the Losers, IT’s going to have to use a medium like Henry Bowers (or perhaps some new characters who are introduced in the sequel) to generate the tension. That’s going to be a real test for the production team and the writers of IT: Chapter Two since the first half was a pretty solid scare-fest. However, Pennywise isn’t terrorizing children with their simplistic, easily digestible (and delectable) fears, it’s going after adults who have not only lived through one encounter with the clown but decades of life’s hard knocks. I hope to see a different sort of fear in the follow-up to go along with the bumps in the night, something that might actually earn the film a “psychological thriller” descriptor to go along with its fitting “horror” tag. Come what may, IT: Chapter Two is going to be an absolute monster.
Is there anything you’re hoping to see in the sequel? Let us know in the comments!