Speculation has swirled ever since Perry revealed the news, joking to Sirius XM's Bevy Smith, "It's time for me to kill that old b—. I'm tired, man."
"We're going to say goodbye in '19," Perry the added. "I just don't want to be her age playing her."
While the new film is about a funeral, the trailer indicates that it is for someone other than Madea, but Perry's comment about killing the character certainly sparks the notion that he may actually have her die at the end of the film.
It does not seem seem as if he will be shuffling Madea "off this mortal coil," however, due to additional comments he made wanting to play the character on a national stage tour so that fans could have a proper goodbye with her.
Perry debuted the character in 1999, in his stage play I Can Do Bad All By Myself (which he later adapted into a feature film.) Since then, he has played the beloved Medea in 10 stage shows and 10 movies. A Madea Family Funeral will be the 11th time the character has appeared on-screen.
Based on a composite of Perry's mother and aunt — as well as influence from Eddie Murphay's Klump characters — the writer/director/producer has said in the past that Madea is a "PG verison" of those strong women in his life.
"...I loved having an opportunity to pay homage to them," he also said. "She would beat the hell out of you but make sure the ambulance got there in time to make sure they could set your arm back. . ."
While Madea has a very large fanbase, there are still some who have been critical of the character. One of her most notable critics is Perry's fellow filmmaker Spike Lee, who has chided Perry for what he feels are a perpetuation of racial stereotypes with Madea.
Perry responded to Lee's comments by saying that he is "sick of him talking about me."
"I am sick of him saying, '...this is a buffoon.' I am sick of him talking about black people going to see movies. This is what he said: 'You vote by what you see'—as if black people don't know what they want to see," Perry added. "I am sick of him. He talked about Whoopi, he talked about Oprah, he talked about me, he talked about Clint Eastwood. Spike needs to shut the hell up."
A Madea Family Funeral opens on March 1, 2019.