One of the biggest criticisms of Tommy Lee Wallace and Lawrence Cohen’s TV adaptation of Stephen King’s It from 1990 was the way it glossed over a key moment in Derry history when a gay man watches in terror as his partner is brutally beaten by a group of homophobes before they push him over the side of a bridge. It Chapter Two director Andy Muschietti wants to make sure the same critiques won’t be levelled at his film.
In King’s original novel, the man, Adrian, survives the fall… but not what’s waiting for him under the bridge: Pennywise the Dancing Clown, who will eat adults in a pinch if and when he gets peckish. Adrian’s boyfriend is helpless to do anything as he sees the demonic entity sink its teeth into his partner and drag him off to his death.
The scene’s important because it establishes the insidious way that Pennywise is able to both amplify and feed off the negative energy that exists within people, but it also speaks to the culture of Derry itself, a town that does have its fair share of homophobic residents.
While the first new It film also didn’t feature the scene in question, Muschietti has confirmed that Chapter Two will, and in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, he explained the scene’s inclusion was important for this story.
Muschietti said that there was no question in his mind about Adrian being in the sequel — in large part because of how King was originally inspired to create the character after learning about the real murder of Charlie Howard, a resident of Bangor, Maine:
“It’s one of the things that really caused a deep impact on Stephen King when he was writing It. So, he decided to include it. Of course, the names are changed, but the beating happened almost exactly like it’s described in the book, and Charlie died in three feet of water in the canal.”
Like Adrian, Charlie was beaten within an inch of his life and pushed over the side of a bridge before being left to die as a close friend looked on. Even though the water Charlie was pushed into was relatively shallow, it’s thought that the beating also caused him to have an asthma attack, contributing to his eventual drowning. Muschietti added that in It Chapter Two, Adrian will be depicted as being an asthmatic the way Charlie was, in order to add more of his actual story to the pop cultural legend It has become.
It Chapter Two floats into theatres September 5.