The first trailer for Netflix's live-action, English language adaptation of the popular Death Note manga and anime has arrived. In addition to offering the first look at how the movie will handle transporting the story from its Japanese roots to its new Seattle setting, it also gives us the first look at Willem DaFoe's Ryuk, the demonic death god at the center of the story.
From the film's initial announcement, Death note has been surrounded by controversy as fans accused the production of whitewashing (casting white leads as Asian characters) its characters. Director Roy Lee has steadfastly refuted these criticisms, however, asserting that his film should not be used as an example of whitewashing, because it adapts the story for a different culture. “I can understand the criticism… if our version of ‘Death Note’ was set in Japan and [featured] characters that were Japanese-named or of Japanese ancestry,” Lee said. “It is an interpretation of that story in a different culture, so there are going to be some obvious changes. Some people will like them, some people may not.”
Debuting in 2003, Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s manga Death Note tells the story of a high school student who stumbles across a supernatural notebook that allows the owner to kill anyone simply by writing their name in its pages. He sets out to cleanse the world of evil, which puts him on a collision course with the enigmatic detective L. The manga is a global phenomenon that inspired a hit anime series, light novels, video games, a series of live-action films in Japan, a musical and an avalanche of merchandise.
Arriving Aug. 25 on Netflix, Wingard’s Death Note stars Nat Wolff as Light Turner, Margaret Qualley as Mia Sutton, Keith Stanfield as “L,” Paul Nakauchi as Watari, Shea Whigham as James Turner and Willem Dafoe as Ryuk.