WARNING: The following contains spoilers for It: Chapter Two, in theaters now.
As with most adaptations of a previous work, It: Chapter Two isn't quite a carbon copy of its predecessors. However, the tweaks in the film aren't huge departures, leaving the overarching plot of It to remain largely the same.
Focusing on the now-grown members of the Losers Club -- Bill (James McAvoy), Ben (Jay Ryan), Bev (Jessica Chastain), Richie (Bill Hader), Eddie (James Ransone) and Stanley (Andy Bean) -- being called back to Derry by the one member of the group to stay in the town, Mike (Isiah Mustafa), the film reintroduces Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), who is targeting an entire new generation.
The most notable changes tweak the story and put emphasis on unexpected characters. Here are all the biggest changes between It: Chapter Two and other versions of the story.
AUDRA & TOM
Two supporting characters from other versions of It are the spouses of the Losers: Bill's actress wife, Audra, and Bev's abusive husband, Tom. Both are briefly introduced in It: Chapter Two. Audra is starring in one of the movies based on Bill's writing, and Tom is a wealthy but physically aggressive brute. However, neither character appears again following the first act of the film, more or less forgotten for the rest of the story.
In other versions of It, both characters receive more exploration and attention. Audra, in particular, played a surprisingly major role in both the novel and previous miniseries adaptation of the same story. Concerned for her husband, she travels to Derry herself and is quickly targeted by Pennywise.
She's used to lure Bill further into the tunnels underneath Derry. Although the Losers save her in both earlier versions, she's left catatonic until Bill can snap her out of it. Although Tom doesn't appear much more in the television miniseries than he does in Chapter Two, he has a more significant part in the original novel.
He follows Bev to Derry, where (like Henry Bowers) he's influenced by It and carries out Pennywise's orders. Upon seeing what It really looks like however, he dies of fright.
It: Chapter Two opens with an extended sequence where a happy gay couple walks around the Derry carnival. Openly in love, the pair are confronted by a group of local bigots who take offense to them. Beating the two men savagely, they eventually lift one of them over the side of the bridge and into the river below. He's "saved" by Pennywise, who then proceeds to consume him. The brutal attack serves as an indicator that Pennywise is back, both to the audience and to Mike.
However, the men who attacked the couple seem to escape scot-free from their hate crime in Chapter Two, running away and never being referenced again. Although the scene was cut from the television miniseries, the original novel features a similar sequence that ends much differently.
In the book, the men responsible for the attack are even captured and put on trial. They're eventually convicted for the murder of the young man, and end up in jail for everything -- including the dismemberment of the victim.
Henry Bowers is just as much of a victim of It as the Losers are. His mind has been warped by the monster, amplifying his already psychotic tendencies. But Bowers gets more to do in the other versions of It, and has his role reduced in Chapter Two.
Instead of directly conversing with Pennywise through the moon (as he does in other versions of the story,) Bowers is instead just led to attack the Losers. In both the book and miniseries, his attack resulted in the hospitalization of Mike, and his eventual death at the end hands of Eddie. In the original novel, Eddie stabs him with a broken bottle while the miniseries changed it to Bowers' own knife.
In Chapter Two, much of this is dropped. In the new film, he attacks Eddie first, getting himself stabbed in the chest with his knife. But the wound barely slows Bowers down, who next targets Mike. Although he slightly injures Mike, it's not nearly enough to put him in the hospital. This allows Mike to play a larger role in the rest of the film.
Instead of Eddie being the one to kill Bowers by stabbing him, Richie surprises him with a tomahawk to the back of the head, killing off Bowers instantly. Overall, Bowers gets less to do in the new film than in other adaptations and is far less genuinely dangerous.
The Ritual of Chüd differs greatly from the source material in It: Chapter Two.
In the book, the ritual is a battle of wills across an otherworldly space where the Losers have to stare into the deadlights to confront It in the "macroverse" that exists outside of our reality. It's one of the only true ways to weaken It, and proves to be an important step in the Losers learning how to overcome their fears to overwhelm It.
In It: Chapter Two, the ritual is much more of an actual ritual, devised by Native Americans when they were confronted by It centuries ago. The ritual forces a group to find "tokens" of their past memories and interactions with It, and to sacrifice them.
Doing so with a special container might prove strong enough to imprison Pennywise, the current form of It. However, although the ritual initially begins well, Mike never revealed to the others that the group was meant to be sacrificed to complete the ritual. Because of this, the plan fails and Pennywise breaks free.
Ultimately, the Losers learn to overcome their fears to defeat Pennywise on their own in this version before killing him by crushing his heart.
The Losers themselves receive some specific alterations to their characters.
The biggest changes come for Mike, Richie and Stanley. Because Mike isn't seriously injured in the attack by Bowers, he's able to accompany the rest of the group when they go to confront Pennywise. He's even the one to realize how to defeat it.
The memories confronted by the Losers reveal that, in the new version of the story, Richie is actually gay. After a traumatizing moment in his youth, he hid it away from the world. Pennywise forces him to confront it, and it's even hinted that Richie has feelings for fellow Loser, Eddie.
Stanley never makes it back to Derry in any version of It. After taking the call from Mike to return to Derry, Stanley takes his own life to avoid confronting Pennywise again. However, previous versions of the story had the move come purely from fear. In It: Chapter Two, Bill receives a letter written from Stanley after finally killing Pennywise, written from before Stanley killed himself.
It turns out that Stanley felt he was too weak to be helpful to the group, and that Pennywise would exploit him as the biggest chink in the Losers' armor. So, Stanley decided to "remove himself from the board" rather than risk his friends being killed because of him.
It makes the moment into more of a sacrifice than pure cowardice as it had previously been framed, and gives Stanley a tragic but noble intention behind what he did.
It: Chapter Two stars Bill Skarsgård, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Teach Grant, Jess Weixler, Will Beinbrink, Xavier Dolan, Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff and Nicholas Hamilton.