WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for It: Chapter Two, in theaters now.
When 2017's It hit theaters, fans were eager to see how director Andy Muschietti would lay the groundwork for the sequel It: Chapter Two, knowing full well a victory over Pennywise would be temporary. Twenty-seven years later, the Losers Club returns to Derry, Maine, memories hazy from the previous battle, and now tasked with defeating the shape-shifting entity -- this time for good -- before it can continue its feeding frenzy.
As Muschietti details the new dynamic of the group, and its emotional growth (or lack thereof), he adds more meat to this sequel by making a major retcon to the first film that finds Pennywise injecting a lot more terror into the kids in the summer of 1989.
One of the major plot points in the first movie was when the group of children tried to fend off Pennywise for the first time at the Well House. It didn't go according to plan, as they were still so young and didn't understand much about the monster. Thus, Pennywise preyed on their fears and nearly killed them. Eddie got his hand broken, and after they fled, they became divided about continuing the battle against the malevolent entity. That splintered the group, and left just Bill and Beverly resolute on finding a way to stop Pennywise, with everyone going their separate way for a couple of weeks.
However, the sequel stretches out this separation, showing Pennywise actually tortured them over an entire summer, devoting the time to fracturing their psyches, one by one. It's a new addition, because audiences previously thought thee kids simply sulked, only to reunite when Bev was taken by the clown into the Deadlights, leading to the finale's sewer confrontation.
In the retcon, we see Richie's first realization he's gay, which leads to Derry's Paul Bunyan statue attacking him with an ax; Eddie hallucinates his mother being kidnapped and tortured by a leper at his pharmacy; Ben is attacked by his crush, Bev, whose skull is on fire due to her smoking habit; Bill is haunted by Georgie's ghost and other missing kids at the spot where Pennywise grabbed Georgie; Mike is haunted by the fire that killed his parents; and Bev is tormented by her sexually abusive father, manifesting as something more chilling than before.
These are no doubt to add suspense, but also to show how Pennywise took different forms and launched individual attacks, knowing the members of the Losers Club still loved each other. The retcon allows more of the demonic Pennywise (as the sequel doesn't focus on his antics as much in 2016) and reframes the first chapter, which painted this time gap as an uneventful one.
In the original film, we saw Bev and Bill in contemplative moods at their houses; Ben back at the library feeling left out; and Richie attending Stanley's bar mitzvah (which is now fleshed out as a rebellious moment that frees Stanley from his religion and enables Richie to embrace his sexuality). The previous chapter also depicted Mike with a pistol, making this period feel a bit drab. When they all regrouped, they didn't mention these new run-ins so clearly, Muschietti has now added this arc for more drama, reminding us Pennywise always kept the Losers as a priority, even when they weren't together.
In theaters now, 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.