The internet is in a tizzy over the upcoming IT adaptation and for good reason. What we’ve seen of the movie so far looks extremely promising, especially since it doesn’t appear to be a carbon copy of the beloved 1990 TV mini-series. While it’s a bit of a stretch to say the upcoming film appears to stick closer to the book (aesthetically, it looks like the childhood segments of the newer IT take place in the 1980s as opposed to the 1950s, for one), there are certainly enough call-outs to Stephen King’s original 1986 novel in the trailer to get fans antsy.
It’s probably safe to assume the upcoming movie is going to eschew many, many elements of its literary source material. Frankly, there are some sections of the book that are just too outdated or politically incorrect, while other passages are either too violent or sexually explicit – and since most of it involves children as victims and victimizers, the MPAA would surely demand severe edits to avoid an NC-17 rating.
If you’ve never read Stephen King’s novel, be forewarned, there are a LOT of spoilers ahead. But since all the scenes described below probably won’t be included in the upcoming movie, maybe it’s not technically a spoiler for the new flick?
Either way, readers are encouraged to proceed with caution…
1) Ben Being Fat-Shamed
In the book, Ben was mercilessly mocked for being overweight – not just by the bullies at school, but even his own friends, who called him “Haystacks” as an oblique nod to a morbidly obese pro wrestler. Considering today’s body-positivity movement, the filmmakers may likely play down the incessant fat shaming the character received in the novel – and it’s almost a guarantee they’re going to cut out the scene where Ben explains how being sexually molested by a gym coach was his motivation for losing weight.
2) The Homophobic Murder Subplot
One of the first instances in the book indicating Pennywise is back in business involves a gaggle of teens in the present day (at the time, 1985) assaulting and apparently killing a gay man who may have sustained a fatal injury from the killer clown in the same attack. While this would be a great way to kick off the second part of the IT double-header, it will probably get nixed for being too long, revolving around inconsequential characters who never reappear in the story and having too many homophobic slurs to ward off bad publicity from special interests groups.
3) Kids Smoking and Packing Heat
Oh, how the times have changed. Back in the 1950s, the idea of fifth-graders sucking on cancer sticks and stealing their daddy’s gun for wacky misadventures wouldn’t have raised much of a fuss (nor was that the case in the 1980s, as apparent by all the underage gunplay and tobacco use in another Stephen King film adaptation, Stand by Me). In today’s world, however, the idea of even make-believe children enjoying cigarettes and running around town with firearms – yes, even if they plan on using it on demonic monsters instead of people – is just too controversial, and it’s pretty much a lock we won’t see the kids in the upcoming movie smoking and shooting much of anything.
4) Sage Life Advice From a Giant Turtle
To say the ending of the novel gets trippy is an understatement. In King’s book, when the kids enter the sewers to battle IT in it’s “true” form, they get a little guidance from a giant, celestial tortoise who is said to have entire galaxies for toenails. To be fair, King does a pretty good job explaining how the turtle is sort of a cosmological counterweight to the IT menace, but what works on paper probably wouldn’t work in IMAX form. It’s the film’s climactic battle, the kids are facing certain death, and right before they get killed, they’re saved by an enormous CGI turtle that talks like a stoned surfer? Yeah, modern audiences totally wouldn’t laugh that one off the screen…
5) The Leper’s Lecherous Intentions
Assuming you’ve watched the trailer approximately four million times in slow motion, you’re probably well aware that the infamous “leper” from the novel does indeed seem to make an appearance in the upcoming film. His dialogue, however, will almost certainly be altered. After all, does anybody really expect the MPAA to just turn the other way when a syphilitic hobo tries to entice a 10-year-old into a horrific sex act? Furthermore, it’s probably a safe bet that Pennywise’s raunchier lines are going to hit the cutting room floor, too – especially all those particularly nasty references to diseased blow jobs.
6) The Cameos From Universal Monsters
Throughout the novel, It takes the form of several iconic movie monsters, running the gamut from Frankenstein’s monster and the Creature from the Black Lagoon to the lycanthrope from I Was a Teenage Werewolf (above) and even the eponymous monster from The Crawling Eye. Odds are we won’t be seeing IT cosplaying as other famous Hollywood creatures in the new film for several reasons – the very least of which are copyright lawsuits from other movie studios. For starters, can anyone explain why a kid from the 1980s would be terrified of B-movie monsters from the 1950s, let alone even know those movies exist in the first place? Then again, the new IT is being produced by Warner Bros. – which means (fingers, very crossed) that there are no legal reasons why Pennywise can’t take the form of Freddy Krueger or Godzilla instead…
7) The Easter Egg Hunt Subplot
In the novel readers learn that IT works in 27-year cycles, with each killing frenzy capped off by some major, high body count disaster. For example, one “cycle” ends with a flood and another ends with a nightclub mysteriously catching fire. Well, fairly early on in the book we learn about another Pennywise knee-slapper – this one involving more than 80 children being blown to bits when an iron works factory exploded during Derry’s annual Easter Egg hunt festivities. And since the new movie is being financed by Warner Bros., I think it’s pretty safe to conclude the people who gave us Harry Potter and the Lego movies aren’t going to be OK with scenes of incinerated first grader guts flying through trees.
8) Patrick Hockstetter’s More Peculiar Behavior
The bully given the most exposition in IT is Henry Bowers. While King paints him as a bad, bad little boy, he’s not even close to being the most messed up member of his own gang – that honor goes to one Patrick Hockstetter, a preteen sociopath whose favorite after-school activity is locking people’s pets in junk yard refrigerators and masturbating to their slow deaths. You know that part in the book where Patrick lights his own farts on fire, tries to give Henry a hand job and then gets eaten alive by flying leeches? Yeah, something tells me we’re not going to be seeing that in the upcoming movie…
9) All That Casual Racism
Seeing as how IT was set in the 1950s and one of the main characters was an African-American boy, it’s reasonable – regrettably – for Mike Hanlon to have experienced a LOT of racial discrimination throughout the book. With the newer IT taking place in the 1980s – and cultural mores evolving to the point that racism is considered more of a social taboo than even child murder – it’s practically a lock that we won’t be seeing Richie performing his “hilarious” minstrel show routines or Pennywise repeatedly referring to Mike as “the n-word” in the new film.
10) THAT Scene in the Sewer
This one should go without saying for anybody who read the book, but for those of you that never plowed through all 1,000 or so pages, brace yourself.
After the kids “kill” IT, they get lost in Derry’s sewers. With no way of knowing where they are going, Beverly proposes a rather unorthodox activity; she gets naked and demands that all the boys take turns having their way with her. Now, please do note that these characters are explicitly referred to as junior high school-aged students throughout the book. Which means if the filmmakers put this scene in the movie, there’s a pretty good chance they could be charged with sex crimes, the film itself could possibly be confiscated by authorities as illegal pornography and audiences would likely revolt en masse, if not stage all-out riots in theaters across America. According to Big Steve himself, the scene was supposed to symbolically link adulthood to childhood, but good luck using that excuse when the federales are raiding your hard drive – and especially when you’re trying to justify a $68 million budget and get studio financing started for the sequel.