The sequel confirms a long-held fan theory that takes liberties with King’s novel, and it has the author’s blessing.
[Editor’s note: Spoilers ahead for “It: Chapter Two.”]
“It: Chapter Two” has finally hit theaters, and the much-anticipated sequel to last year’s blockbuster Stephen king adaptation did not disappoint. In one of the most exciting developments in director Andy Muschietti’s follow-up, which was written by Gary Dauberman, the pair depart from the original novel to support a long-held fan theory that a major character — Richie Tozier (played by Bill Hader and Finn Wolfhard) — is bisexual. During a terrifying flashback sequence involving clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), “It: Chapter Two” firmly establishes that Richie is not strictly heterosexual, and that the revelation that he is indeed interested in men is actually one of his biggest fears.
Specifically, he has feelings for Eddie Kaspbrak (played by Jack Dylan Grazer and James Ransone). “It’s actually not really alluded to in the book,” Ransone told IndieWire during a recent interview. “I read the book. It’s a big departure from the book.”
Be that as it may, King gave his blessing. During a recent interview with Vanity Fair, King was asked whether he alluded to Richie’s unrequited crush on Eddie intentionally.
“No, I never did,” King said. “But again, it’s one of those things that’s kind of genius, because it echoes the beginning. It comes full circle.”
King’s original novel featured the brutal murder of a young gay man, which was inspired by the 1984 murder of Charlie Howard in Bangor, Maine. The same scene opens “It Chapter Two,” establishing the film’s themes of intolerance and acceptance early on. As King notes, the emotional final scene bookends the film nicely, bringing them full circle.
The concluding scene — and the canon-altering reveal — has garnered more than just fan attention. Early critical reactions praised Hader’s performance as Richie, saying he steals the film. A few critics even suggested the “Barry” creator and star deserves to be part of the Oscar conversation.
Audiences agree. “It: Chapter Two” grossed $91 million on its opening weekend for Warner Bros., providing a needed facelift to a floundering box office. While it didn’t quite catch up to the first film’s record-breaking $123 million debut in 2017, the gross represented two thirds of all tickets sold this weekend in the U.S. and Canada.
“It: Chapter Two” is currently in theaters.