[SPOILERS for IT: Chapter One ahead.]
The Losers might have defeated the child-eating creature lurking in their hometown but things will get darker for one of the Losers before IT comes back 27 years later in the story – and only two years later, for those of us safe on the other side of the screen. After being adapted into a two-part TV mini-series back in 1990, Stephen King’s supernatural horror novel IT has finally gotten the cinematic treatment and the first film of a planned duology is now in theaters.
IT: Chapter One, directed by Andrés Muschietti (Mamá) and with Bill Skarsgard (Hemlock Grove) as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, covers half the novel, following a group of kids self-named as “The Losers’ Club”. Bill Denbrough, Ben Hanscom, Bev Marsh, Eddie Kaspbrak, Richie Tozier, Stan Uris and Mike Hanlon come face to face with an evil shape-shifting entity and are forced to confront their biggest fears in the process. IT: Chapter Two will follow the grown-up versions of the Losers, and will give a darker storyline to one of the members of the club – namely, Mike.
In an interview with EW, Muschietti opened up about some of his plans for Chapter Two, including a darker twist to Chosen Jacobs’ character Mike Hanlon – the member of the Losers’ Club who stays behind and who is one of the only black kids in Derry, leading him to suffer constant bullying from the town’s racist citizens.
In the novel, Hanlon is the one who brings the gang back together almost three decades after their first encounter with IT – and is also the only member of the club who stayed in Derry. Hanlon becomes a librarian and spends most of his time collecting and recording details of the town’s dark history. Without giving much away as to spoil what’s to come in the next film, Muschietti shared that Hanlon will pay a high price for his devotion and immersion in the study of the evil creature from their childhoods:
“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 added that Hanlon is not just a collector of information of everything Pennywise has been doing in town, but he will also “bear the role of trying to figure out how to defeat him” – and the only way he could get that done was to “take drugs and alter his mind.” While a drug problem is not part of the original IT book, it mirrors an element of the novel that didn’t make it into Chapter One: the Losers undertaking a Native American ritual to take a brief look at the supernatural plane. Muschietti explained:
“It resonates with what the kids do when they go to the smokehouse in the Barrens. 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.”
Adapting a novel as rich as IT – which spans over 1,000 pages – to the big screen (and with a bigger budget than the TV miniseries had) gives the filmmakers more room to explore the lives of its main characters, as well as go to darker places and change a few details for a better adaptation; especially as Chapter Two will be set in the present-day, contrary to the novel (where the latter half is set in the ’80s).
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