When it comes to IT, the most common image is that of Pennywise, but the true form of this shapeshifting entity has only been seen by few – and it’s a complicated one. Stephen King’s novel IT introduced readers to a new type of creature that can take any shape it desires in order to lure their victims into its trap or target their biggest fears. IT's preferred form is Pennywise the Dancing Clown, which has become one of the scariest and most famous clowns in pop culture.
IT was adapted into a miniseries in 1990 with Tim Curry as Pennywise, and most recently into a two-part film, directed by Andy Muschietti and with Bill Skarsgård as the nightmarish clown. Both adaptations have addressed IT’s true form in different ways, but what does it really look like according to the novel?
First off, IT is an ancient, cosmic, evil entity that originated in the Macroverse – a void containing and surrounding the universe, and a recurrent concept in Stephen King’s mythology. As previously mentioned, this entity can take the shape that best suits its interests, but its true shape is unknown as it only exists in an inter-dimensional realm referred to as “deadlights”. Its final form in the physical realm is that of a giant female spider, and it’s the closest to the real shape that the human mind can comprehend, as the deadlights come with a big price.
Those who face the deadlights go immediately insane, and only a few have survived this encounter. Bill Denbrough got very close to them thanks to the “Ritual of Chud”, through which he also encountered The Turtle, IT’s natural enemy and guardian of the Macroverse. He later described the deadlights as writhing, destroying orange lights, with IT as an endless, crawling, hairy creature made of that same orange light – hence why a giant spider is the closest it can get to its true form in the physical realm.
In the miniseries, the deadlights were represented as literal bright lights, especially through Pennywise’s eyes in the second part of the story. The film adaptations have a different approach that comes closer to the novel’s description; in IT: Chapter One, viewers got a taste of the deadlights when Pennywise abducts Beverly and leaves her in a catatonic state after exposing her to bright lights from his mouth. A new clip from IT: Chapter Two briefly shows what looks like the deadlights, descending upon the adult Losers in the sewers.
IT’s true form is a mystery even within the universe of Stephen King, giving a bit of creative freedom to readers and filmmakers, as the deadlights and what lives inside of them could look like pretty much anything – just with very bright orange light. For now, the closest there will be to the deadlights as described in the book is in IT: Chapter One and soon in IT: Chapter Two, which will hopefully expand on it.
- IT Chapter Two (2019) release date: Sep 06, 2019