After the events with the Ferris wheel, Light wakes up in a hospital, where the Death Note has been returned by a mysterious visitor. His father sits next to his bed and reveals that he now knows that Light is behind all the killings. He confronts Light, who then drops the big, final twist: Light planned everything. Seriously, everything.
Using the Death Note, he got a doctor to rescue him from the water after falling from the Ferris wheel. He recruited a retired mailman to retrieve the Death Note and continue the killing of criminals on the news. He pre-wrote Mia's death. He even saved his own life by making sure the page of the Death Note with his name on it slipped from the book and fell into a fire. During this sequence, which plays out through a series of lightning-fast flashbacks, Wingard also cuts to L finding a page of the Death Note in Mia's room and starring at it, clearly thinking about using it to kill Light. Will he do it? Does the Death Note corrupt everyone who comes into contact with it? Or will L stay true to his principles?
It's a lot to take in. Also, it's a dramatic departure from both the manga and the anime series, which Wingard knows will alienate some viewers. But he views the movie as an origin story -- he compares it to the Star Wars prequels at one point -- and he hopes a sequel will continue the story in the future. He originally pitched it to Netflix as a series of "at least two or three films" that would follow Light as he becomes a darker character.
"Ultimately, the ground it covers is pretty small in terms of the full source material," he says. "I never wanted to skip forward, and then suddenly Near and Mello [two characters from the manga] show up at the end of the movie or something like that. It was one of those things where the ending was its own thing since technically we’re still at the beginning of that whole series."
Of course, the existence of a sequel depends on how this movie is received. While the film has become a source of controversy in the last few months due to criticisms of whitewashing and fan concerns that the adaptation might stray too far from the source material, Wingard seems confident in the movie he made and proud of its freewheeling tone. This is his Death Note. And his Death Note has a very different Light. And Air Supply songs. It plays by his rules.
"I was a little nervous doing stuff like that early on but we always consulted with the original creators and they always gave their blessings about that," he says. "We'll see once it gets out in the world. You know, Death Note fans. There's not much more passionate fans of any material in the world than Death Note. They'll be sure to let me know if they're unhappy."