SPOILERS for IT Chapter Two ahead.
Stephen King supports IT Chapter Two's changes to Richie Tozier. Played by Finn Wolfhard as a kid and Bill Hader as an adult, Richie is a member of the Losers' Club in both King's IT novel and director Andy Muschietti's two-part film adaptation. Nicknamed "Trashmouth" for his foul-mouthed humor, Richie has become a successful standup comedian by the time IT Chapter Two picks up, twenty-seven years after the first movie. However, when called back to Derry to battle Pennywise with the other Losers, he begrudgingly obliges (after throwing up, anyway).
Hader and Wolfhard have received a whole lot of critical praise for their performances as Richie, with Hader being singled out as the cast MVP in many an IT Chapter Two review. That's partially because Richie the character gets an unexpectedly poignant storyline, in which it's revealed he's been secretly in love with his fellow Loser Eddie Kaspbrak (played as an adult by James Ransone) since they were kids. And while the subplot wasn't part of King's source material, the author say he's fully onboard with that change to the story.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, King touched on a variety of topics related to IT Chapter Two, including his own cameo as a curmudgeonly Derry consignment shop owner. He also touched on Richie and Eddie's unrequited romance, saying it wasn't build into his original book "But again, it’s one of those things that’s kind of genius, because it echoes the beginning. It comes full circle". He's referring specifically to the film's opening scene, in which Adrian Mellon (a gay man who lives in Derry) and his boyfriend are assaulted by some teenagers and Mellon is tossed over a bridge, only to be killed by Pennywise below. Richie and Eddie's story ends on a similarly tragic note (with Pennywise murdering Eddie), but King appreciated how it contrasted the scene with Mellon:
“At least there’s love involved. Somebody cares for [Eddie]. And that echoes the love that Adrian’s partner has for him. So that was cool.”
Mellon's death was part of King's IT novel and was inspired by a real-life hate crime in Bangor, Maine in 1984 (in which Charlie Howard, a gay man, was attacked and murdered by some local teenagers). While IT fans and critics alike have been generally supportive of Richie's new storyline in IT Chapter Two, they have taken issue with its handling. Indeed, the sequel has been criticized for being gratuitously brutal in its depiction of the violence against Mellon, and missing the important social context that King provides around the event in his book. IT Chapter Two has also been taken to task for being too timid in its handling of Richie's character arc, and struggling to connect it thematically to Mellon's murder.
Others, however, agree with King and like how IT Chapter Two's ending scene with Richie contrasts Mellon's death at the beginning (as Richie takes the first step towards self-acceptance). It's an important debate that's part of the larger ongoing discussion about pop culture, and how mainstream films can provide better representation for LGBTQ characters. No doubt, King appreciates this debate, considering he included Mellon's death in his original book to help kick off such a conversation in the first place. This further explains why, of all the changes IT Chapter Two makes to his source material, he's being so vocally supportive of this one.
Source: Vanity Fair