It Chapter 2: What Are The Major Differences Between The Book, The Miniseries, And The Movies?
Welcome back to Derry
The It franchise is a strange beast. The novel has over a thousand pages, the '90s miniseries has a runtime of over 3 hours, and the modern movies have broken up a once interwoven story into two different parts. Naturally, there are going to be some pretty major differences between them, from the way Pennywise itself works to the motivation the Losers are given to finally beat the monster once and for all.
Of course, it'd be totally impossible to catalog out every minor change or adjustment made between the three versions of the story, but now that the modern saga is complete and It Chapter 2 is finally here, we decided to lay each version of the story out next to one another and see just where the major differences are. We stuck with the big ones--things that actually, in one way or another, affect significant parts of the plot.
Obviously, with that in mind, expect some significant spoilers from It Chapter 2 from here on out, so please proceed with caution.
The concept of the Ritual of Chüd isn't new by any means--in fact, it's a pretty major part of the novel. But the ritual that wound up in Chapter 2 bears little, if any, resemblance to the source material. In the book, the ritual is an esoteric practice the kids learn about from a book about Himalayan mystical practices, and it involves all sorts of weird stuff--like layering your tongue with someone else's tongue and biting down on them both, then somehow telling jokes, and so on. In actual practice, it becomes a sort of metaphysical experience that links two people together in another plane of existence.
In Chapter 2, it's--well, decidedly not that. Mike discovers the ritual as an adult thanks to the invented Native American tribe the "Shokopiwah," and the ritual involves the gathering of "tokens" from the past to be used as a sacrifice that will vacuum up Pennywise--or the Deadlights that represent his true form--into a leather jug.
Unfortunately, everyone learns a little too late that Mike wasn't quite honest about how effective the ritual actually might be.
Poor Stanley. He's doomed to die in every version of the story, but Chapter 2 changed things up a bit. In the novel and the miniseries, Stan's death is fairly face value--he's too scared and too traumatized to cope with the idea of returning to Derry, and, potentially under some level of residual Pennywise energy, writes out "IT" on the wall in blood after slitting his wrists.
Chapter 2 has a more layered approach, turning Stan's suicide into a sort of martyr move by not only making the whole scene less horrific and more tragic (those flashbacks to Bill as a kid were real tear-jerkers) but also by giving Stan a chance to explain himself directly. By writing letters to his friends before his death, Stan explained that he only did it to "take himself off the board" because he was too scared to go back and knew that whatever they were doing wouldn't work without all of them there.
Pennywise's true form
Pennywise is a monster of many, many forms, but the most infamous of them (besides the clown) is definitely the giant spider--which may or may not be his "true" identity. In the book and the miniseries, the spider concept is very literal--he just looks like a giant house spider with an actual web and, in the book, a bunch of eggs. Chapter 2 backs off on that idea by keeping the whole clown look but folding some spider-y appendages into the mix. There's no web, no eggs, and no actual giant bugs.
The idea that Bev had visions that showed each of the Losers dying--and that she knew Stan was going to kill himself--is an invention of the movie. In the novel, the kids experiment with giving themselves smoke-induced hallucinations based on a Native American practice they found in a book--though they're not very successful. In fact, they really only give themselves coughing fits.
Eddie's trusty (possibly fake) inhaler has stuck with him through thick and thin, even into adulthood. It's certainly a major part of the modern movies--but it plays an even bigger role in both the novel and the miniseries. Using the "power of belief," Eddie is able to make his inhaler spray battery acid in Pennywise's face not once, but twice. The second time is what ends up getting him killed as an adult, though. RIP.
Beep beep, Richie.
Arguably one of the most iconic and oft-quoted lines from the franchise that doesn't have to do with floating, "Beep beep, Richie" is used in both the novel and the miniseries as a sort of playful catchphrase between the Losers to tell Richie Tozier to shut up. In the modern movies, however, it's a Pennywise original--which is considerably less heartwarming than a group of kids trying to tell their chatty friend to stop talking. Pennywise is the only one who gets the line in Chapter 1 during a scare to taunt Richie. Bev actually does say it in Chapter 2--though how or why she even knew the phrase in this new context is a little confusing.
Bill's wife Audra plays a hugely reduced part in Chapter 2 compared with both the novel and the miniseries. In the original version of the story, Audra goes to Derry after Bill and nearly becomes one of Pennywise's victims. Bill is able to rescue her, but she remains in a nearly comatose state until he, uh, takes her for a ride (and almost causes a huge traffic incident) on his childhood bike, Silver, which heals her somehow.
The entire town of Derry is a lot more affected by the demise of Pennywise in the novel--a record-breaking storm (that may or may not be supernatural in nature) floods the city as the Losers finally win. It's the storm that causes Pennywise's lair to collapse, and eventually washes out most of the town. Neither the miniseries nor the new movies include the storm to the degree it happened in the novel.
The sewer scenes/the cistern
The major confrontations with Pennywise differ dramatically between the three versions of the story. There is no major cistern area in the miniseries or the book, and similarly, the strange wooden passage the Losers use as adults in which version to travel further into the bowls of Derry doesn't exist in the miniseries. The novel's version of Pennywise's lair is much more literal with the concept of him being a giant spider--there are webs and eggs (you know, spider stuff).
Richie doesn't really get his own personal scare in Chapter 1, though he does get a handful retroactively in Chapter 2, including the Paul Bunyon statue, which is directly lifted from the book. However, the bulk of Richie's scares in the miniseries include a character that never made it into the movies--the monster from "I Was A Teenage Werewolf," a very real 1957 horror movie the Losers all saw in the theater in the novel.
Stan's "painting lady" is arguably one of the most unsettling Pennywise monsters in Chapter 1--seriously, why would anyone have that up in their office? She looks like The Nun from the Conjuring universe, but somehow worse.
She's also an invention of the movies. In the novel and the miniseries, Stan is terrorized by a mummy--still scary, obviously, but much, much less scary than the version we got on screen.
Eddie's job as an adult in Chapter 2 is excruciatingly boring, as Richie points out. He's a "risk analyst" for an insurance company--a pretty on the nose turn for a childhood hypochondriac and worrywart. But in the novel and miniseries, he grows up to run an extremely successful limo driving business.
Obviously, that's a bit harder to sell in 2016 during the rideshare revolution--and it has way, way less to do with Eddie's childhood personality than any of their Losers' adult jobs, all of which were very closely adapted from the novel.
One of the more subtle changes made between the new movie series and the TV miniseries is the motivation Pennywise has to attack the Losers. In the miniseries, he's actively trying to keep the Losers out--he wants them to leave Derry and never return, which is why they all became so wildly successful when they moved away, and why they forgot everything. Somehow Pennywise's magic was able to affect their fates in such a way as to incentivize them to stay the hell out of Dodge. The logic here was that Pennywise was actually afraid of the Losers since they were the only kids to really do him any harm back in the day--so he'd rather just avoid another confrontation entirely.
In the new movies, however, that intention has been completely reversed. Rather than trying to keep the Losers out, Pennywise has been "craving" them for the last 27 years. They're no longer the ones who kicked his ass, they're the ones who got away--and now he's doing everything in his power to bring them back. This, of course, makes the whole "forgetting Derry" thing a little harder to understand, and it turns out that the Losers all became independently wealthy outside of their hometown by sheer luck. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.
Eddie Kapsbrak has had three different deaths in the three different incarnations of the story. In the novel, his arm is bitten off by Pennywise after he uses his inhaler to poison it. He dies, basically in Richie's arms, midway through a confession that sends Richie into a rage Bev has to talk him down from. In the 90s mini series, Eddie is--uh, yelled to death? By Pennywise, who doesn't appear to actually physically harm him outside of grabbing him and lifting him up. Whatever happened there, it was enough to stop his heart.
In the modern movies, Eddie is skewered through the chest by one of Pennywise's claws, right after saving Richie's life. He slowly dies of blood loss before the Losers are able to defeat Pennywise once and for all.
In the novel and the movie versions of the story, the Losers are forced to leave poor Eddie's body in the sewers for one reason or another, which sucks for a bunch of reasons, chief among them how much Eddie would have absolutely hated to be left somewhere so disgusting. The miniseries, thankfully, let Richie carry him out.