The Key Differences Between It Chapter Two and the Book
It Chapter Two is finally in theaters, concluding the saga of the Losers Club and their 27-year quest to defeat the monster calling himself Pennywise the Clown once and for all. It was a smash success, both with audiences and at the box office, despite its frequent deviations from Stephen King's original novel. While director Andy Muschietti stayed largely true to the characters, themes, and overall feel of King's book, he took a number of creative liberties in translating them to screen — most notably in his decision to film the entire first film from just the kids' points of view, without even glimpsing the adult characters. In the book, both narratives are braided so tightly together, it's almost hard to tell where one ends and the other begins, but the films are divided neatly into one focused on the kids and the other on the adults.
However, if you've read King's novel, you know that changing up the structure of the story is far from the only change that was made in adapting the dark, decades-long tale for the big screen. Whether you're a big fan of the book or are simply curious about the events of the novel after seeing the movie, you've come to the right place. Keep reading to see some of the most notable differences between the book and It Chapter Two. Needless to say, there are major spoilers ahead.
Derry’s Dark History
While It touched briefly on some of the killings that occurred about every 27 years in Derry, Chapter Two hardly mentions them at all, spending most of its nearly three-hour runtime concerned only with the events of 1989 and 2016. But the book takes great pains to show us the extent of the evil that Pennywise is capable of by walking readers through Mike Hanlon's journal of past horrors.
Although the journal entries are extremely detailed, conveying grisly tales of fatal fires, mass shootings, and ax murders, they have little relevance to the rest of the plot, other than to establish what we already know: Pennywise is the kind of monster that even monsters are afraid of. It's easy to see why none of these interludes were included in the films as anything more than a passing nod, since they mostly just serve to disturb the reader and not actually to advance the story.
The Professions of the Losers
In the book, Bill grows up to be a writer, Beverly is a fashion designer, Richie is a radio DJ, Mike is the Derry town librarian, Stan is an accountant, Eddie is a limo driver, and Ben is an architect. Except for Mike, all of the Losers have grown up to be extremely successful in their chosen professions.
In the film, however, Richie is a stand-up comedian — which makes sense given the updated time period — and Eddie is a risk-assessment analyst. The change to Eddie's job is especially fitting given how a large part of Eddie's characterization in both films is his extreme hypochondria and his constant cautioning of his friends away from what he perceives to be risky situations.
Those Gruesome Fortune Cookies
In both the book and in It Chapter Two, the Losers' reunion dinner at a local Asian restaurant ends with a horrifying final course that will make you think twice before ever reaching for a fortune cookie again. However, the contents of those cookies change between the book and the film. The cookies in the book contain manifestations of specific fears and concerns of each of the Losers — blood for Beverly, an eyeball for Richie, a cricket for Eddie, a fly for Bill — showing just how far It has already gotten into their heads.
In the movie, there are actually two rounds of disturbing fortune cookies. The first seems normal, until the Losers realize each fortune consists of only one word. Piecing them together, the fortunes form the sentence "Guess Stanley Could Not Cut It," which is how the Losers learn of the death of their friend, who committed suicide after receiving Mike's call asking him to return to Derry. In the book, Mike already knew about Stan and informed the Losers of his tragic fate over dinner.
Once this first unsettling fortune has been delivered, the remaining cookies in the bowl begin to shake, bursting open on their own to reveal grotesque — yet unspecific — monstrosities, including a bulbous insect with the head of a baby, a crawling eye, a one-winged bat, and a twisted half-formed bird. The bowl then fills with what appears to be acid blood, overflowing and spreading across the table, until the waitress arrives and it all disappears.
Bill Denbrough Can’t Write Endings
Although the book reveals that Bill grows up to be a successful writer of both novels and screenplays, It Chapter Two adds an amusing footnote to Bill's prestigious writing career: he can't write endings. This is almost certainly a nod to Stephen King himself, who notoriously struggles to stick the landings of his books.
Although Bill's proclivity for unsatisfying endings is a running joke throughout the film, the most stinging dig at his craft comes from King himself, in a surprise cameo as a pawn shop owner. During King's brief scene with James McAvoy, he sells Bill back his childhood bike, comments on how much money Bill likely makes as an author, and declines Bill's offer to sign his copy of one of his books, confessing that he didn't like the ending.
The Ritual of Chüd
After receiving his vision of It's ancient origins, Mike then stole the 18th century artifact that the Native Elders told them was needed to perform the Ritual of Chüd, which is how Mike believes the Losers will be able to defeat It. Although the Ritual of Chüd is indeed a big part of the book and vital to the Losers' success in both timelines, the mechanics of it are totally changed for the film. In the book, Chüd is a battle of wills, pitting the imagination of children against the ancient evil of IT. In the film, it's a ceremony, complete with props, which Mike believes must be followed to the letter in order for the Losers to be victorious.
After the Ritual of Chüd fails in It Chapter Two, Pennywise tells them that it didn't work because it was a "gazebo," implying that it was a placebo and that it had already failed once before. To the shock of the Losers, Mike then admits that he knew that the Ritual of Chüd failed the last time it was used but that he hadn't told his friends because he was sure that if they truly believed it would work, then it would.
This is a major departure from the book, in which the Ritual of Chüd not only works (albeit in a completely different way) but was never used against IT before and has nothing to do with the hospitalized Mike Hanlon, who is only ever honest with his friends.
Poor Little Victoria
In a scene that isn't in the book, a little girl named Victoria who has a prominent birthmark on one cheek wanders under the bleachers at a baseball game and encounters Pennywise. At first, it seems as though Victoria might get away, refusing to get pulled in by Pennywise's friendly act, but when he claims he has the power to blow her birthmark away, she allows him to get too close, leading to her death.
What makes the murder of Victoria even more heartbreaking is that we first meet her in the opening scene of the film, in which a man named Adrian Mellon wins a stuffed animal at a carnival game, only to then notice the disappointed expression of the little girl beside him and decide to give it to her instead. Adrian later goes on to become Pennywise's first victim in 2016, and it turns out that Victoria, sadly, was not far behind him.
Richie Tozier’s Lifelong Secret
Although the Losers are all close in the book, the film adds another layer to their connection by heavily hinting that Richie has been harboring romantic feelings toward Eddie ever since they were kids. This leads to Pennywise taunting Richie about revealing his secret, indicating that Richie is afraid for anyone to find out about how he truly feels. In the book, the fear of Richie's that Pennywise exploits is his fear of eyeballs, making his encounters with Pennywise still scary but far less personal.
The Details About It
The origins of It are left a bit of a mystery in both the book and the movie, but the book at least touches on how It came to be in Derry by having the kids enact a Native American ritual that Ben read about at the library. They fill their clubhouse with smoke, hoping to receive a vision that will help them learn more about It. While all of the Losers participate, only Mike and Richie wind up being transported millions of years into the past, where they witness It crash into Earth from space like a meteor.
In the film, however, the adult Mike visits a Native tribe living outside of Derry, who fought It once many years ago. They give him herbs to induce hallucinations, which is how Mike learns about the extraterrestrial origins of It. Mike then slips a lower dose of the same herbs into Bill's water glass, unbeknownst to Bill, in a last-ditch effort to get Bill to help him. Once Bill also sees the arrival of Pennywise, he changes his mind about leaving Derry and agrees to help Mike persuade the others to stay and fight.
In a subplot from the book which is completely omitted from the movie, the adult Losers are horrified to learn that It is not only female but pregnant. They discover over a hundred eggs, which Ben Hanscom stomps on, determined to squash every single one. In the film, although It most often takes a male form, It is never given a specific gender, and there's never any talk of eggs.
Also, the It of the novel takes a number of different forms throughout the narrative, including a werewolf, a giant bird, a massive crawling eye, and its true form, a giant spider. But although the film version of It can indeed shapeshift and does assume some of its forms from the novel — most disturbingly, the decaying head of Stan Uris — it spends most of its time in the recognizable visage of Pennywise the Clown. It does spend some time as a version of a spider during the final battle, but it always wears Pennywise's face, altering some of the nightmarish imagery from the book.
The Losers Slay It
In the book, after Eddie wounds It with his inhaler, Bill and Richie chase after It. It attempts to bargain with them, but they attack It, punching through the exoskeleton of its spider-like form with their fists and into its soft body beneath. Bill locates the creatures heart and crushes it in his hands, killing It.
In It Chapter Two, on Eddie's suggestion, the Losers initially attempt to lure IT into a tunnel to make it physically smaller so that they can kill it, but when they're unable to get It to leave its lair, they change tactics, realizing there is more than one way to make someone feel small. They hurl insults at It, depriving It of the fear that it feeds on, so that It gradually shrinks before their eyes. Bill reaches into Its chest and pulls out its beating heart, and together, the Losers crush it.
The Heroism and Death of Eddie Kaspbrak
In every version of It, Eddie Kaspbrak meets a tragic and heroic end, but the specifics of how he gets there are different between the book and the movie. In King's novel, Bill and Richie are attempting to defeat It using the Ritual of Chüd, like they did as kids, but they're too weak and are in danger of losing. Eddie, who has known since childhood that his trusty asthma inhaler is a placebo, steps in, using the strength of his imagination to insist that the inhaler is filled with poison. He sprays "poison" down It's throat, weakening It and saving his friends, but in doing so, It bites off Eddie's arm, causing him to die of blood loss in Beverly's arms.
In the film, Eddie uses a fence spoke to defend Richie from It, after his friend is caught in It's "deadlights." Beverly previously told him that the spoke "kills monster," but only if he believes it does. Eddie repeats this to himself several times, making himself believe that it is indeed a monster killer, before javelin-ing it into It's throat, causing it to release Richie. Eddie rushes over to see if his friend is all right, but when he turns his back, the wounded It uses one of its long talons to skewer him through the chest. Eddie hangs on for a few more painful minutes, giving the Losers the idea to "make It small" so that they can kill It but then slips away before they can tell him they've won.
Beverly Marsh’s Rekindled Romance
While all the Losers nurse varying degrees of crushes on Beverly in the book, it's always Bill and Ben who seem to love her the most. While the child version of Beverly is more drawn to Bill in both the book and the film, her preferences as an adult depend on which version of the story you're following.
In the book, Beverly and Bill succumb to their mutual attraction, sleeping together in Bill's hotel room the night before the Losers go down into the sewers to battle Pennywise. But in It Chapter Two, while the adult Beverly does seem to oscillate between the two for a while, she ultimately chooses Ben, sharing an underwater kiss with him while the Losers celebrate their final victory. Later, after the Losers leave Derry, it is revealed that Beverly and Ben stayed together, and their final shot sees them happily preparing to set sail on a boat.
The Losers Remember
In Stephen King's novel, after defeating It, the Losers all begin to gradually lose their memories of what happened. Mike observes that this time, it's happening to him too, even though he's stayed in Derry, and muses that this must mean that It is truly dead this time. He attempts to write about their experiences in his journal, but in time, that, too, begins to fade, and he gives up. He is sad that he won't remember his friends but figures that this may mean that they'll all get their happy endings now, without the grief and trauma that would accompany their memories of what they shared.
It Chapter Two takes the complete opposite tactic, showing that the Losers each still remember everything, even long after leaving Derry. The film shows that they're staying in touch with one another, moving on, and that each of them seem happier and more content than they did at the beginning of the film.