Pennywise the Monster Clown's IT Origins Explained
The Pennywise Monster Clown is why Stephen King's IT terrified readers and viewers alike. Here's an explanation of the origin of The Joker from IT.
Pennywise is the evil clown from IT, the Stephen King novel that was adapted into two films and a critically acclaimed 1990 miniseries starring Tim Curry as Pennywise - but what is the origin story of Pennywise the Clown? Pennywise isn't your typical murderous villain, though. Like Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street, Pennywise the Clown is a supernatural foe who possesses all sorts of nightmarish powers to terrorize his victims. Pennywise visits the residents of Derry, Maine every 27 years, and Stephen King's creepy clown never leaves until his body is counted. But who is Pennywise the Clown in the IT movies and Stephen King novels? Here are the origins of Pennywise the Clown in Stephen King's 1986 book, Andy Muschietti's 2017 IT and 2019 follow-up IT: Chapter 2
Clowns from IT remain largely a Losers Club mystery (from IT The kids mean their gang) and viewers unfamiliar with King's original 1986 Stephen King novel. IT 2019: Chapter 2 tells the origin story of Pennywise the Clown. Sequel Set 27 Years Later Starring James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain Join Skarsgård and see the Losers Club children return to Derry as adults. They defeated Pennywise a second time, but this time, they learned more about the creature's true nature. Stephen King's original IT novel also explains more about Pennywise, as is often the case when adapting a book into a film. Below is the origin of Pennywise explained in the IT movie.
Where Pennywise Comes From
Pennywise the Clown is no clown at all. The Pennywise Clown's origin story sees an ancient evil being that may be as old as the universe itself. However, in the novel, the entity IT/Pennywise has a real name - Bob Gray. However, Bob Gray is not human and has the same origin as IT. Human names are a bit surreal in King, juxtaposed with the long unpronounceable names of similar cosmic beings in Lovecraft's novels, such as Nyarlathotep or Ghatanothoa. It's a technique King mirrors in other novels. The movie chooses to drop this to an extent because it doesn't translate well to the screen (it goes from disturbing to just plain confusing).
IT comes from the void that encompasses the whole of existence, Including our reality. The space beyond this one in the Pennywise Clown origin story is called the Macroverse (also known as the Todash Darkness in Stephen King's Dark Tower novels). IT's home dimension is a realm that sits alongside us in the Macroverse, while a specific corner of Pennywise's cosmic real estate is known as Deadlights. At some point, Pennywise left Deadlight and traveled across the Macroverse, into our universe.
In the origin story of Pennywise the Clown, Pennywise arrived on Earth millions of years ago in a cataclysmic event. He landed in what became North America, specifically the area where the town of Derry, Maine, was eventually built. Pennywise has been sleeping under the earth for millions of years, waiting for the arrival of human beings. When the town of Derry was built in 1715, IT awoke and started a cycle, feeding on the fears of the people of Stephen King's Derry before resuming the cycle of dormant 27 to 30 years.
Why Pennywise Eats Kids
The clown in IT doesn't technically eat children - it drains their fear, but the process is deadly. Pennywise/IT Preys on Derry's Kids Because Their Fears Are More Physical form and harvest. King decides to have IT primarily feature the dancing clown Pennywise because he believes that "clowns scare children more than anything else in the world." IT influences Derry's adults to passively ignore it and not interfere with his attack on Derry's children . Yet he doesn't go beyond consuming adults when the mood strikes. Because IT has manipulated the minds of the people of Derry, they don't dwell on the tragedy that happened. So while many children go missing, as we see in the film, adults just passively post new missing photos over old ones and move on as if nothing is wrong.
Pennywise isn't just responsible for a chain of missing children every 27-30 years, though. While researching Derry's history at the library, Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) discovers that IT has been a part of terror and death in Derry for centuries. Pennywise was responsible for the Kitchener Iron Works explosion that killed 108 people, including 88 children. IT can also be awakened by violence on top of Pennywise's 27-30 year cycle. Stephen King's 1986 IT novel begins with a boy named Dorsey In 1957, Corcoran was beaten to death by his stepfather, Richard Macklin, which awakened Pennywise. Pennywise Junior M.O. is terrifying and subsequently devours children, but he's not picky - he loves and creates violence, mayhem and carnage.
What Is Pennywise's True Form?
Part of the Pennywise Clown's origin story revolves around his true form. Pennywise is a shapeshifter who can take on whatever form his victim fears most. Pennywise the Clown presenting balloons to George Jr. (Jackson Robert Scott) at the beginning of the first IT movie is just the preferred physical form. It has many other shapes, such as the homeless leper chasing Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) and the woman (Wyatt Oleff) in the painting that scares Stan. In the novel, IT takes many more shapes, such as a giant spider and several famous monsters that IT producers don't have the movie rights to. These include Dracula, Werewolf, The Creature From The Black Lagoon, Frankenstein's Monster, The Shark From Jaws, and Rodan.
In Stephen King's original novel IT, Billy (Jaden Lieberher) catches a glimpse of Pennywise's true face under a death light, which he describes as endless, crawling, and furry of Creatures made of orange light. While IT likes to appear as a male clown named Pennywise, in the novels IT also takes the form of a giant female spider. In IT: Chapter 2, Richie (played by Bill Hader) also gets a glimpse of Pennywise's true colors during the film's climax. In IT Chapter 2, Pennywise is shown as three glowing lamps swimming between seemingly infinite walls of fiery flesh. The experience was enough to make Rich's eyes roll back inside his skull, seeing the death ray nearly kill him.
This is a good direction for a film adaptation, as IT/Pennywise is considered a cosmic entity and godlike being in King's wider fictional canon. IT's natural enemy is another supreme being from the Macroverse called The Turtle. Turtle also appears in the Dark Tower series as Maturin, one of the Guardians of the Beam, but IT describes itself as a "superior being". Whether Pennywise is more powerful than The Turtle is unknown. However, this is debatable in the context of Maturin being one of the entities that holds together the fictional reality of King's crossover titles, proving that Pennywise is stronger And not just an IT version of Freddy Krueger.
What Powers Pennywise Has
As an ancient supernatural demon in Pennywise the clown origin story, IT possesses a plethora of superpowers. In addition to shapeshifting, Pennywise can also cast illusions. It was IT that caused the fire that killed Mike's (chosen Jacobs) parents. IT can project itself into photos, such as the slideshow of Billy's family that the loser watches in Billy's garage, and can appear and disappear at will. Final strength is demonstrated when he shows up in the woods to watch Mike get attacked by Henry Powers (Nicolas Hamilton) and his gang of thugs. Pennywise's deadliest power is the ability to manipulate how people perceive reality, which is how it escapes centuries of violence. This power is why Alvin Marsh (Stephen Bogaert), Beverly's (Sophia Lillis) abusive father, couldn't see their love for Beverly after IT attacked Beverly. The whole bathroom was stained red with blood.
When the Losers find Pennywise's lair in the sewers, they see the bodies of all of the IT child victims floating above - an example of him possessing telekinesis. However, for all the power IT has, once the loser is proven he is vulnerable to physical attack able to overcome their fear of Pennywise. IT is able to regenerate itself, as he did when Bev pierced his head with a spear, but only up to a point, less so if his attackers aren't afraid. After he suffered some level of bodily injury from the United and Daredevil Losers, Pennywise had to retreat to the bowels of the lower Derry, slumbering and reviving for 27 years (until showing up to meet IT's grown-up Losers cast :chapter 2).
Why Pennywise Isn't Bob Gray In The Movies
The movies have a different approach when it comes to the origin story of Pennywise the Clown, whose name is Robert "Bob" Gray. In IT: Chapter 2, there is a lengthy exposition section explaining the origin of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. There is a human Pennywise the Dancing Clown, but IT just takes his form. In movie canon, Pennywise the dancing clown is a real person, an image that IT deems sufficient to serve as the basis for his campaign of terrorizing children.
The scene where Ms. Derch tells the origin story of Pennywise the Dancing Clown in IT: Chapter 2 creates an obvious plot hole, but only because it doesn't explain itself clearly enough. For display, If IT initially reaches the bottom of Camp Crystal Lake, he'll likely turn into Jason Voorhees, and if it's in Texas, he might turn into Leatherface. Pennywise the Dancing Clown is never named Bob Gray in the film, nor is the name said aloud, but many fans mistakenly connected the two and assumed that Robert Gray was the one in the photo.
What The Movies Changed About Pennywise From The Book
IT 2017 and IT 2019: Chapter 2 changes many details from the original Stephen King novel, especially when it comes to Pennywise. As mentioned, the unusually normal name of Bob Gray was dropped from the movie. While a Lovecraftian cosmic being works with one of the mundane names ever conceived in horror fiction, if it were named Bob Gray in the film, it would lead many viewers to believe that Pennywise was once A person. Pennywise also takes many different forms in fiction. These were removed from the movie for licensing reasons, especially since some of the characters were the shark in Jaws and Rodan in the Godzilla movies.
Pennywise also uses a slightly different approach in the book, with a larger list of victims. Books featuring Pennywise are also Many allusions to Stephen King's fictional universe are made, but understandable references to The Turtle (for example) are removed in IT and IT: Chapter 2. Though in all versions, including Tim Curry's 1990 IT, Pennywise the Clown has one trait in common - he's absolutely terrifying.
HBO Are Going To Explore Pennywise Origins In A Prequel Series
The origin story of Pennywise the Clown will be revealed in full in the upcoming HBO prequel series Welcome to Derry. Of the many Stephen King stories set in the fictional town of Derry, Maine, IT is by far the most memorable. Viewers have been to Derry before, as the 2011 film Bag of Bones was also set in the town. However, it looks like the IT prequel series will focus entirely on the stories told in IT. Andy Muschietti's IT has attracted fans old and new and has become hugely popular over the years thanks to his two most recent feature films.
It is likely that Welcome to Derry will focus on other stories about the town in King's novel. Pennywise the clown origin story sees the monster return to town every 27 years to cause unspeakable tragedy and chaos, with For the first time, 340 unnamed settlers were killed. While all of Pennywise's exploits are told in sketchy fashion in IT: Chapters 1 and 2, he's largely responsible for every horrific event that's happened in the town's history. A prequel series will likely explore these horrific events, further adding to the origin story of Pennywise the Clown.
Using a prequel series, rather than a series like IT: Chapter 3, is a smart move by the studio. The TV show format allowed for more exploration of characters that audiences have been so captivated for years. Plus, the prequel franchise is hugely popular right now, with the Star Wars franchise leading the way with properties like Andor and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Bigger questions about this enigmatic celestial beast can be answered, like why he returns every 27 years, or how he crash-landed on an asteroid. Of course, others besides the Losers Club have encountered Pennywise before, and now, the origin story of Pennywise the Clown can be fleshed out with the IT prequel series Welcome to Derry.