Bestselling author Stephen King has thrown his support behind the decision to add a queer subplot to It Chapter Two, even though it is a departure from his book.
WARNING: This rest of this article contains spoilers to It Chapter Two.
The sequel to It confirms the long-held fan theory that a major character — Richie Tozier (played by Stranger Things‘ Finn Wolfhard) — is attracted to men.
The revelation doesn’t come until one of the film’s final scenes, when the audience learns that Richie has been struggling to accept his sexuality all his life, and that he has an unrequited crush on his friend Eddie.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Stephen King was asked whether he intended this romantic subtext when writing the characters’ relationship in the book.
“No, I never did,” he said. “But again, it’s one of those things that’s kind of genius, because it echoes the beginning. It comes full circle.”
King said he liked the addition as “a bookend” for the movie, referring to the film’s opening scene which depicts a harrowing, homophobic attack on a gay man, Adrian Mellon.
The scene is taken from the opening chapter of King’s 1986 novel, which in turn was based on a tragic real-life murder of Charlie Howard, a gay man in Maine.
“At the time I started writing It, the Howard murder had just happened. It was fresh in my mind, and fitted my idea of Derry as a place where terrible things happened,” King told the Bangor Daily News.
“And, maybe needless to say, I was outraged. It was a hate crime.”
While the graphic depiction of the homophobic crime has angered some, others argue that it effectively establishes the film’s themes of intolerance and acceptance early on.
Unfortunately, both the film’s gay characters meet tragic endings in the film, but King said he appreciated how their stories stand in contrast to the ugliness and cruelty fostered by Pennywise.
“At least there’s love involved. Somebody cares for [Eddie,]” King said. “And that echoes the love that Adrian’s partner has for him. So that was cool.”
It Chapter Two is currently in cinemas and grossed $91 million on its opening weekend.