Across the board, IT is a faithful adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 horror novel. With the exception of a few major elements and scenes, Andy Muschietti’s smash-hit adheres to the book in both plot and tone.
As with any adaptation of a beloved novel, however, certain things are bound to be left on the cutting-room floor. There are the larger changes, like the fact that the movie takes place in the 1980’s when King set the book in the late 1950’s. The novel also shifts between alternate timelines of child and adult versions of The Losers’ Club, while the movie remains entirely linear. As for smaller alterations, Georgie is found dead in the book, for example, while he is curiously listed as MIA in the film adaptation. And whereas Mike Hanlon is the tacit narrator and designated historian of the book, Ben Hascomb seems to have taken his place in the movie.
From minor character shifts to literally cosmic changes, here are the biggest differences between IT the movie and the book on which it’s based:
The Immortal Turtle and Macroverse Are Excluded
Stephen King is wildly imaginative, and his creative streak is on full display in the pages of “IT.” His seminal novel goes above and beyond fleshing out Pennywise the dancing clown. While the movie shows IT to only be a fiendish, blood-lusting child killer, the book delves deeper into the demon’s origins and shows that Pennywise is no earthly creature.
Heralding from the “Macroverse,” the IT monster’s homeland is known as the Deadlights, a place that exists in a realm beyond human comprehension. Though IT chooses to reveal himself as a child-friendly (ish) clown, he’s actually a hirsute beast of indescribable size and horror. In the Macroverse described in the books, IT also shares part of its galaxy with an immortal, god-like turtle named Maturin who helps The Losers’ Club beat Pennywise.
The Losers Don’t Just Beat-Up Pennywise
In the movie adaptation, The Losers essentially beat the demonic clown through emotional grit and physical determination. Though that’s a time-tested combination in its own right, Stephen King drew up a different conclusion for the clown’s comeuppance.
After introducing Maturin in a strange intra-dimensional segue, The Losers’ Club actually gets to interact with the supernatural reptile after Bill discovers something called the “Ritual of Chud.” In its simplest form, this cryptic rite is essentially a psychic battle of wits. Thanks to the guiding hand of Maturin, Bill applies the ritual to expose IT in its hairy, deadlight-ridden form and banish it back to a 27-year-long dirt nap.
While Andy Muschietti has implied that budgetary restraints kept these supernatural elements out of the movie, he has mentioned that IT: Chapter Two may have room for the Macroverse. If it’s introduced in full form, perhaps a Dark Tower crossover is in order.
IT Shapeshifts Into ’50s Horror Movie Icons
As an ageless, sexless, space-born killing machine, IT has a number of powers. Chief among them is the beast’s ability to shapeshift upon command. In the latest movie, we saw it turn into the woman in the painting that Stan despised, become Eddie’s porous and stalking, leper, and Richie’s clown-filled nightmare.
Stephen King took a few more liberties in his novel, however. From turning into Frankenstein’s Monster and the Creature From the Black Lagoon, to The Mummy, Dracula, the Jaws shark and other horror movie icons, IT is a walking tribute to classic horror films in King’s book. Due to the complicated issues of cinematic rights, it’s no surprise Muschietti focused his attention on more affordable fears. Besides, given the movie’s anchoring in 1980’s America, those old school villains might have seemed out of place.
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