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Over the weekend, moviegoers in theaters and viewers at home watching Peacock got a fresh taste of Stephen King's Firestarter, thanks to a new adaptation helmed by director Keith Thomas (The Vigil). Though the film shares plenty of structural and character DNA with King's original novel, this Firestarter also took several key liberties with the story, including opening the door for a sequel in ways that the original book didn't.
So, is Firestarter 2 possible? Thomas thinks so, and he left clues embedded in the film to suggest it.
**Spoilers for Firestarter ahead.**
In both King's original novel and the original film adaptation in 1984, John Rainbird and the pyrokinetic young girl Charlie McGee have a complicated relationship. Rainbird is tasked not just with capturing Charlie, but with luring her powers out for the higher-ups at The Shop to see and study, which he does in part by disguising himself as a janitor at the facility and winning her trust. The bond they create, driven by Rainbird's own creepy obsession with the girl, is complex and interesting, but despite the connection they make, Charlie ultimately learns Rainbird's true killer nature. By the end of the novel, she's killed him in the process of burning The Shop down, and sets out on her own to tell her story to the world.
Thomas' film, with a script by Scott Teems, makes several key changes to this relationship, and it starts with making Rainbird (Michael Greyeyes) himself a kind of graduate of The Shop. He's a hired hunter they use to bring people in, but he also has some kind of latent psychic abilities of his own, and he seems to sense something about what Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) is capable of, even before she does, that precognitively suggests the film's fiery ending. Speaking to Bloody Disgusting's Boo Crew podcast, Thomas confirmed some version of that psychic skill, and even revealed an Easter egg that points to it in the film.
“What’s interesting is… without giving away any spoilers… in the sequence of Rainbird’s apartment… there’s a drawing board that’s set up where he’s got all these sketches that he’s drawn," Thomas said. "If you were to freeze frame on that drawing board, you would see the rest of the film. And images from it. So it’s clear that there’s a lot of suggestion here [about] what Rainbird’s up to and capable of. And in order to get that right, we had to figure out… where does this story go after this Firestarter?”
If you go back and freeze frame the sequence Thomas refers to, you can indeed see the ending he devised that departs from King's original novel, in which Rainbird ends up saving Charlie from agents of The Shop and carrying her out of the facility as it burns. There's clearly some kind of still-unspoken bond between the two of them, anchored in the ways in which The Shop changed both their lives, and the film ends with the two of them escaping together. Though Thomas didn't spill any major details about where his explorations of the next chapter might go, he did hint that there's enough material there to forge ahead with a potential Firestarter 2.
“Who knows if there will ever be a sequel or anything like that. But we wanted to suggest a much larger journey ahead,” Thomas said.
As Thomas said, it's hard to tell if Firestarter might get a direct sequel, but the door's definitely open for one. In the meantime, if you're interested in seeing how a different version of Firestarter ended up with a sequel, you can check out the Firestarter: Rekindled miniseries from 2002, which is also streaming on Peacock.