Warning: This article includes spoilers for Candyman.
Nia DaCosta’s new Candyman movie, which has been acclaimed by critics and warmly received by fans of the franchise, is a direct follow-up to the Clive Barker-based 1992 original that acknowledges the events of the first movie and examines its legacy. But it’s not a straightforward sequel, because its story follows brand-new characters.
From obsessive struggling artist Anthony McCoy to final girl Brianna Cartwright to a separate incarnation of the titular ghoul named Sherman Fields, the Candyman sequel has introduced a bunch of great new characters to the franchise’s ensemble.
8 Candyman (Daniel Robitaille)
Just like Jamie Lee Curtis in 2018’s Halloween, it was a treat for Candyman fans to see Tony Todd returning to his most iconic horror role in the new movie. Most horror villains avoid a clear backstory to keep an air of mystery around the character, but the Candyman’s origins are crucial to the movie’s racial themes.
Before becoming the Candyman, Daniel Robitaille was the son of a slave who was killed for being in an interracial relationship. The new movie reveals that Robitaille is just one of many Candymen, but thanks to Todd’s hypnotic performance, Robitaille is still the most memorable one.
7 Finley Stephens
When Anthony debuts his Candyman-inspired artworks at Brianna’s gallery, he doesn’t get anything like the reaction he’s expecting. Ruthless art critic Finley Stephens doesn’t mince words with Anthony and even goes as far as blaming him for the negative effects of gentrification.
But even Finley, an intellectual who scoffs at the Candyman legend, can’t resist saying his name five times and getting herself hooked to death, adding another tally to the iconic horror villain’s kill count. The most memorable thing about this character – aside from her biting personality – is her murder, captured in an eerie wide-angle long take looking through her blood-soaked apartment window. It ensures that what could’ve been a minor supporting character won’t be forgotten any time soon.
6 Troy Cartwright
Brianna’s brother Troy provides a lot of the comic relief in Candyman, and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett nails every comedic delivery. When his boyfriend suggests summoning Candyman at the art show, he dryly quips, “Black people don’t need to be summoning s**t.”
Troy is also shown to be a protective brother, as he invites Brianna to stay with him when she leaves Anthony and goes with her when she returns to the apartment to pick up her stuff.
5 Candyman (Anthony McCoy)
While the 1992 original saw Helen Lyle’s graduate thesis provoking the ire of the Candyman, the 2021 reboot sees Anthony McCoy’s art project attracting the boogeyman’s attention. Little does he know he has more of a connection to the Candyman than he thought. The shocking twist reveals Anthony to be the baby that the Candyman abducted in the first movie.
The revelation of Anthony’s identity ties Nia DaCosta’s sequel a lot more closely to the original and also raises the stakes of his conflict with the Candyman because it turns out there’s precedent for it. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II gives a fantastic performance as Anthony slowly transforms into the Candyman, gradually becoming zanier and more erratic as the body-horror bee sting takes over his arm. In the movie’s subversive final moments, he becomes the new Candyman as a sort of vigilante fighting racial injustice, which is extremely cathartic.
4 William Burke
William Burke is a Cabrini-Green resident who answers all of Anthony’s questions about the Candyman legend. Initially, Burke appears to be an exposition mouthpiece used to explain the events of the first movie and the mythology of the franchise, but he soon reveals himself to be the true villain when his plan to turn Anthony into the new Candyman starts to come together.
Colman Domingo does a terrific job of playing Burke’s friendly facade in the early scenes, and then showing off his sadistic side in the later scenes, so that the twist reveal of his sinister intentions really sinks in.
3 Anne-Marie McCoy
Tony Todd isn’t the only familiar face from 1992’s Candyman that reappears in 2021’s Candyman. Vanessa Williams also reprises her role as Anne-Marie McCoy, the single mother whose baby was abducted by the Candyman (though Helen Lyle was framed for it) in the original movie.
Williams only appears in a single scene, but it’s a powerful one as Anthony arrives at his estranged mom’s house to get the truth about his childhood and has his whole world shattered by the answers she gives him.
2 Candyman (Sherman Fields)
As great as it was to see Tony Todd back in the role of Candyman, the new movie also introduces a handful of other incarnations of the infamous boogeyman. In the opening prologue, the Candyman is presented as a regular guy named Sherman Fields who hands out candy to children. He’s forced into hiding by a false allegation about feeding razorblades to kids, but he compromises his hiding place to offer candy to a young William Burke.
Burke saw “the true face of fear” after his screams alerted the police to Fields’ location and he heard their footsteps approaching the laundry room. Fields became a new incarnation of Candyman after being beaten to death by these cops. Fields’ harrowing backstory feeds into the movie’s study of racial violence.
1 Brianna Cartwright
While Anthony’s transformation into Candyman also transforms him into a more unlikable character, his girlfriend Brianna Cartwright is likable all through the movie. Her biggest problem is that she’s too committed to her work and when she notices Anthony exhibiting strange behavior, she just wants to help. WandaVision’s breakout star Teyonah Parris brings real agency and empowerment to Candyman’s final girl.
Brianna is a lot smarter than the average horror movie protagonist. When she’s searching Burke’s laundromat for Anthony, Brianna comes across a staircase down to a dark, grimy basement. Instead of idly wandering down there like 99% of horror protagonists, Brianna just says, “Nope,” and turns away, which also makes her relatable.
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