Stephen King's epic novel IT is one of his best, most famous, and most beloved works. It should be a testament to how good the book actually is that more than one director has adapted the story for the screen despite the fact that the book clocks in at over a thousand pages. IT is a story that at it's heart is about overcoming childhood fear and trauma, which is probably why it feels so timeless and why audience members of all ages relate to it so well.
But as with any massively long book, there is no way that all of the story details and characters can be included in the film adaptation. And like with many books, there are portions of the IT novel that would be borderline impossible to actually bring to the screen. It's hard to gauge what should be kept in and kept out, but here are five things in the IT book we wish had been kept in and five that we're glad they kept out.
10 Keep In: Bill's Wife And Beverly's Husband
IT Chapter Two is already an exceptionally long movie so it's not a huge surprise that they cut material from the book wherever they could, but the presence of Bill Denbrough's wife and Beverly Marsh's husband add some extra dimension to the story that would have been interesting to see on film. When the Losers Club initially returns to Derry in the book they all arrive solo, but Bill's wife is concerned about her husband and Beverly's husband is interested in punishing her for leaving, and their addition into the story actually does have a pretty significant impact on the characters and story overall.
9 Keep Out: Re-Forgetting
Obviously one of the major plot lines of IT Chapter Two is the return of the Losers Club in Derry and their complete amnesia about everything that actually happened to them when they were children. However in the novel the Losers Club seem to experience the same eventual forgetting of everything that happened the second time around too, and we're glad that the movie decided to leave that part out.
If it's a side effect of Pennywise then it wouldn't make sense if it happened again after he had been destroyed, and the Losers forgetting about destroying one of the great evils of the universe wouldn't be a very satisfactory ending.
8 Keep In: Henry's Level Of Insanity
Henry Bowers is one of the most frightening human aspects of IT Chapter One and Chapter Two, but the book version of his character is even scarier. In a lot of ways Henry's behavior is effective enough as a horror movie device, however the extreme to which his actions go to in the novel is still pretty important. In the novel IT Pennywise's ability to control the minds of people in Derry is much clearer, and it's especially clear when it comes to Henry. It feels like in the IT movie duology that it's difficult to know whether Henry is choosing to act or if Pennywise is making him do it.
7 Keep Out: Pennywise's More Dated Appearances
In both the movie and film versions of IT, the being most commonly known as Pennywise the clown actually takes on the appearance of many different scary images. However in the book version of IT, a lot of the horror characters that he transforms into are first off very dated characters, and secondly characters that probably wouldn't believably terrify children that easily in this day and age. In the novel Pennywise takes on personas like a werewolf, a mummy, and even the shark from Jaws, but the film adaptations of IT will presumably get a little more longevity out of the fact that none of Pennywise's looks draw from very era-specific ideas.
6 Keep In: Why Children Are The Ideal Victim
It's actually a pretty easy thing to surmise if you think it through, but IT Chapter One and Two doesn't firmly establish the very simple reason why Pennywise so often seeks out children to terrorize and eat.
Sure they may taste good, but the real reason is that their fears are just far simpler to make into a reality. Pennywise can change his appearance and create illusions, but adults are much more prone to have fears that are more inwardly focused and not as concrete as something like a oozing, infected leper or profoundly disturbing painting (or you know, a clown).
5 Keep Out: The Macroverse
Any hardcore Stephen King fan is going to be familiar with the macroverse and it's importance in the story of IT. However, it's also a concept that would be incredibly difficult to execute on film in a way that would make any sense to an audience who's never even heard of it before. Stephen King actually toys with the concept of a multiverse quite often in his fictions, and in IT specifically the macroverse is basically the universe that exists around all of these universes and it's where It originated from (and it seems to be the earliest iteration of existence that any Stephen King creature is aware of).
4 Keep In: An Explanation Of The Deadlights
Now, Andy Muschietti's IT adaptation does acknowledge the Deadlights and actually does a very cool visual representation of them (the Deadlights were those three swirling orbs of light in case anyone didn't know). However, the movie doesn't really explain much beyond what they're called. The Deadlights is the true form of Pennywise, or at least the closest form that humans are actually capable of perceiving, and looking into the Deadlights is an experience so powerful that anyone who sees them is usually killed by it or driven to insanity. Lucky for Beverly she avoided both outcomes, but the lights are what allowed her to see into parts of reality that are hidden from any normal person.
3 Keep Out: The Space Turtle
Okay, so the creature most commonly referred to as Pennywise or It is actually an extra-dimensional being who's form is imperceptible to the human mind. It originated from the macroverse but is now in this universe, which is only one of many different universes. And within the macroverse It had a mortal enemy, an ancient giant turtle name Maturin. For real.
It's a story line that obviously makes a lot more sense if you read Stephen King's book, but this is the kind of story line that is too nutty to even delve into in the films, never mind actually trying to film something that makes sense and doesn't look corny as all get out.
2 Keep In: Pennywise's Origin Story
Pennywise is a terrifying character that doesn't necessarily need a backstory to be scary. He may even be scarier with no explanation at all. However if IT Chapter Two wanted to dive into the fact that Pennywise is not from this earth then they shouldn't have gone halfway with it. Pennywise is a kind of alien, but the audience members who aren't familiar with the book or character would get a very different impression as to what It actually is based on the movie alone. And the Losers Club destroying It was a borderline miracle, they deserve to get props within the movie for that too.
1 Keep Out: The NC-17 Stuff
Uh, so for anyone who doesn't know Stephen King's personal backstory, he was having quite a rockin' and rollin' time with extralegal substances when he was in the process of writing IT. And while the story itself is pretty brilliant, there are clearly portions of the book that read like they were written by an absolute lunatic. Suffice it to say that a lot of the children in the story do things and behave in ways that would have taken IT Chapter One far beyond an R rating, and thankfully Muschietti and his team didn't include even a hint of that weirdness in the film. Still wondering why the presumably not-drug addled editors of the original book didn't force that material to be removed though.