Bad Boys for Life spoilers follow.
Talking to Digital Spy for the home release of the third movie, directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah revealed that they weren't responsible for the dark twist, but explained why it had to happen.
If you haven't seen the movie yet, here's your last chance to turn away to avoid spoilers.
Watch now Bad Boys for Life on Prime Video UK
Bad Boys for Life delivers an emotional twist for Detectives Lowrey and Burnett (Will Smith and Martin Lawrence) when Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) is assassinated by Armando (Jacob Scipio), who eventually turns out to be Lowrey's son.
Fallah explained that Captain Howard's death was always in the script – written by Chris Bremner, Peter Craig and Joe Carnahan – and it took him by surprise.
"When I read that for the first time, I was so shocked. I was like, 'Oh, no, this is not for real! And this is a Bad Boys movie?!'," he recalled.
"I think it's also the reason this movie is so emotional. It goes much deeper in the characters than the previous ones, which gave it this right to exist. So, yeah, Captain Howard had to die. We had no other choice."
El Arbi added that Pantoliano jokingly had reasons for Captain Howard to not be dead ("maybe I'm in the witness protection programme"), but the director agreed that it gives the third movie an extra edge.
"I think that everybody, obviously, when they read the script was devastated. When we showed it to the audience, you felt that the audience were even crying during those sequences," he said.
"We've never really seen the Bad Boys being so emotional and so invested. You see the love that they have for this Captain, and that the Captain has for them. So it was really hard, but it made the movie only better."
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