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First Death Note Netflix Trailer Unveils Willem Dafoe’s Demon

A lot can happen in a minute. A racing heart can beat more than a hundred times. And Netflix’s first teaser for its upcoming adaptation of Death Note can actually reveal much with just a handful of fleeting glimpses.

This is the latest incarnation of a pop horror phenom that started as a manga and quickly spread to adaptations in anime, film, novels, video games, live-action TV, and even a stage musical. Though the setting has been shifted to Seattle, diehard fans will recognize a lot of key details showing where this will be a faithful adaptation, and where it will follow its own dark muses.


First, here’s a Reader’s Die-gest recap of the story. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist the pun. It’s Death Note!).

Out of boredom, a demon quite literally drops a cursed notebook into the life of a high schooler named Light. Whoever writes a name into the tome can specify the date, time, and circumstances of that person’s demise. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t take long for such dreadful power to go to this kid’s head. Styling himself a modern day deity, “Kira,” Light starts magically executing a swath of criminals whom he perceives as having evaded just punishment. His targets quickly expand, though, to include anybody who may discover the secret of his alter ego or simply get in his way.

This rash of killings soon attracts the attention of a broad cross-section of society. Criminals come to fear a “death god.” Regular, law-abiding folk come to worship him. Various copycats imitate his vigilantism. World-class sleuths pursue him. And the demon who gifted the Death Note to Light even starts tagging along to simply see what happens next.


Nat Wolff leads this adaptation. One significant quality differentiating his “Light Turner” from the Light Yagami of the anime is that he at least seems to be a brooder even before he acquires the Death Note. A big part of the character’s dichotomy was that, by all outward appearances, he was a popular kid without any demons–inner or otherwise. Nobody would expect him to be commanding gangsters to kill themselves and then scrawl a message for Kira in their own blood (as seen above). Fans of the show even jumped on a meme that rather undeniably likened him to Zac Efron.

In the vein of Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne, there was a fascinating sociopathy on display. This serial killer could keep his deadly tactics to the confines of his bedroom, then just shut the Death Note whenever he felt like and go smile with his friends in the sunshine. A shade of that dichotomy might still be here, but this Light does look pretty grim all the time.


Of course, while we’re making Bat-comparisons, the character who more directly resembles the caped crusader is, of course, the monogrammic master detective L. In this version, he’s portrayed by Keith Stanfield and he’s got a more Mr. Robot-esque sense of style.

While Kira’s vigilante campaign baffles the police on an almost existential level–how can you identify a suspect who isn’t even physically present at any killings?-L has such a brilliance for pattern recognition, he can actually find suspects in an impossible case. Watching these two masterminds match wits is a joy in any iteration.

The trailer also features a quick look at Margaret Qualley as Mia Sutton, a version of Light’s biggest admirer, Misa Misa. The kills also seem to have more of a Final Destination style of macabre ingenuity, too. And, of course, Willem Dafoe appears at the very end as the demon Ryuk, a role he was pretty much born to play.

Are you excited? Intrigued? Repulsed? How does this compare to the Death Note anime?

Image Credits: Netflix

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