Spoiler Alert: This article contains massive spoilers for the 2021 film Candyman.
The 1992 cult classic Candyman's villain was pretty straightforward, but 2021's film of the same name doesn't work the same way. The legend of Candyman is still centerstage — but the story has a new purpose and is being viewed through a very different lens. Instead, this Candyman, no longer a man but a hive, is here to avenge Black people who have been killed in incredibly cruel and racist ways.
But one character wants Candyman to do more — keep his community from being further gentrified. And he's willing to go to extreme ends to do it. Need some answers on how William Burke's (Colman Domingo) plan plays out? Here's the explanation for how Candyman 2021 ends.
What does the ending of 2021's 'Candyman' mean?
Though the new Candyman does change up some of the history in the first movie, it is a sequel. The biggest tie to the original comes in the form of the movie's main character — Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Anthony was the child who was kidnapped by Candyman in the original film. Thanks to his mother, that traumatic chapter of his life was hidden from him.
When Anthony learns of Candyman's legend, it becomes a new topic for his artwork, but he has no idea just yet how close he is to the real story. Upon meeting William, Anthony gets new insight into how Candyman works — which is to say that there isn't just one Candyman. Although the original is Daniel Robitaille (Tony Todd), who was lynched for his relationship with a white woman, William saw the creation of a different Candyman.
When William was young, he saw the police kill Sherman Fields (Michael Hargrove) for handing out candy with razor blades in it — a crime he didn't commit. While Anthony's investigation and art installation goes on, Sherman's Candyman has been taking new victims — some of whom are killed thanks to the installation itself. Perhaps having an art piece that encourages people to say "Candyman" five times isn't the best idea. It's thanks to these killings being linked to the installation that Anthony is named a suspect.
During his investigation into Candyman, a bee sting leads Anthony into a descent into madness. His spreading infection causes his girlfriend, Brianna (Teyonah Parris), to flee. Meanwhile, Anthony discovers the truth about his childhood from his mother, but he disappears right after. Concerned for her boyfriend, Brianna seeks out William for answers, only to be kidnapped by him and taken to an abandoned church.
Here she sees an entranced Anthony, and William reveals his master plan. He needs a Candyman to keep Cabrini-Green from being gentrified more than it's already been. Anthony is the sacrifice to make that happen. He cuts off Anthony's hand, replaces it with a hook, and calls the police in the hopes they'll kill him since he's already a suspect for the Candyman murders.
Though Brianna manages to kill William, the police do exactly what he wanted. They arrive and kill Anthony, solidifying him as the new Candyman. Although they arrest Brianna as well, she looks in a mirror and summons Candyman. Anthony arrives and kills the cops, but after being wrapped in bees, he reveals himself to be Daniel instead, who tells Brianna, "Tell everyone."
Who is Candyman? And why is Anthony Daniel now?
Anthony has joined the hive that is Candyman. So it makes sense that the hive takes the form of the original Candyman, Daniel. Though William is not a version of Candyman, he and Candyman do share similar goals in the film. He's seen his home gentrified by white people, who price out Black people and destroy the neighborhoods they grew up in. In a sense, it's an act of white violence, and white violence is exactly how Candymen are made.
Candyman is in theaters now.