IT Chapter Two makes a running gag out of Stephen King's problem writing endings, but unfortunately, it doesn't write a much better one. One of the best-selling authors of all time, King unquestionably knows how to craft stories that captivate an audience. That's evident in the amount of his work that's been adapted into successful movies and TV shows. However, not even King himself would claim that his writing is perfect.
One of the most common criticisms of King's novels is that he's not very good at writing endings. King is fully capable of creating characters readers care about and antagonists they fear, but when it comes to the conclusions of his stories, a lot of them end up falling flat. IT is no exception to that trend, ending what had been a terrifying tale of childhood trauma, the rotten underbelly of a seemingly happy small town, and a creature composed of every person's worst nightmares into a physical battle between seven humans and a giant spider thing.
The 1990 IT miniseries, as beloved as it is by some, doesn't do much to correct things. It cuts all the intergalactic turtle stuff, but still comes down to people vs spider monster, and a terrible-looking one at that. IT Chapter Two jokingly acknowledged King's issues with bad endings, which would've been great, if only the film had managed to write a better one.
IT Chapter Two Turns Stephen King's Bad Endings Into a Joke
It's well-known that King likes to write characters whose occupation is the one he personally knows best, writing. That's true in IT, as Losers' Club leader Bill Denborough (James McAvoy) grows up to be a successful horror author. He's clearly a Stephen King stand-in, and IT Chapter Two makes that even clearer, via a running gag in which various characters point out how bad Bill's endings tend to be. This is taken to its height when Stephen King himself cameos as a shop owner, and hits Bill with the same ending criticism. While it's fun to see King have a sense of humor about his own flaws, it sets up the expectation that IT Chapter Two's ending will blow the viewer away. Needless to say, that doesn't happen.
IT Chapter Two's Ending Changes King's, But Doesn't Really Improve It
As in the miniseries and book before it, IT Chapter Two comes down to a final battle between the surviving six members of the Losers' Club and Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). While this version changes many aspects from the book, it introduces its own problems. For one, the amount of humor during what should be the most serious part of the film gives the final fight a really inconsistent tone. Secondly, Pennywise turns into a creature with spider-like legs and the torso of Pennywise, and while this is clearly an attempt to honor the book without Skarsgard disappearing from the film, the actual look of the monster is so ridiculous and the CGI so obvious that it's more likely to inspire raised eyebrows than terror.
In addition to being wildly uneven when it comes to tone and scares, the climactic battle of IT Chapter Two fails to be very satisfying. The Losers' Club essentially talks Pennywise to death, bullying him as if he was a child, and he basically melts into a puddle of clown-shaped goo. This is a creature with the power to bend reality to its will that's millions of years old, and yet a few people insult it a bit and it dies. While Stephen King's book ending was also very anti-climactic, the film's ending is just as much so. If that all wasn't enough, the battle itself is followed by an epilogue in which Stan reveals via suicide note that he made the conscious decision to kill himself because he thought the Losers' stood a better chance of winning without him. That's not only a smack in the face to Stan's original character arc, it's also pretty irresponsible to present suicide as the best option in a given situation.