Mike Hanlon is one of the strongest members of the Losers Club, fighting a daily battle against racism in the small town of Derry long before the shape-shifting clown floats up out of the sewers, and he’s the only one who stays behind when the others leave. In King’s book, this decision takes its toll on Hanlon, but Muschietti plans to step things up a notch and torment his character even further in It: Chapter Two.
By the time the others return to their hometown, Hanlon will have turned to drugs in his despair. Muschietti describes the character as a “junkie” in the sequel, but it turns out that his addiction also serves a vital purpose in the fight against Pennywise. In the book, younger versions of the Losers Club deliberately inhale fumes in a “smoke-hole” to learn more about their foe, but here, Hanlon’s experience with drugs as an adult will alter his mind and help him to figure out how to defeat the ancient creature via the bizarrely named “Ritual of Chüd.”
While some fans of the book may object to this change, Muschietti claims the idea is to infuse Hanlon’s character with “more agency,” providing him with a more important role during the gap where the rest of the Losers Club found success in their lives away from Derry.