The filmmaker gives a controversial answer that many will love — and some will hate.

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In Death Note, a strange, ancient-seeming notebook falls from a thunderstorm, and a young man named Light Turner (The Fault in Our Stars‘ Nat Wolff) discovers it has the power to kill anyone whose name he inscribes in its pages.

It also summons a prickly-backed demon named Ryuk, who looks like the Joker if he lost a fight-to-the-death with a nest of porcupines. The grinning, cackling beast appears to keep urging Light to put the cruel and unsavory out of their misery.

The clip below debuted at Comic-Con as part of the Netflix panel in Hall H and Willem Dafoe’s acidic purr definitely lends the fiend an extra layer of menace.

The film, directed by Adam Wingard, is adapted from a best-selling Japanese manga comic and the story spirals deeper into darkness as Light continues using it to exact vigilante justice on the world.

Wolff said one thing he did as preparation was to make a list of people he would eliminate — a macabre bit of research into his own psyche and soul.

“I thought, ‘There’s no way I’ll be able to think of any names because Light must be an evil sociopath,'” Wolff told the crowd. “But as soon as I made it, names were flying off my pen. And I realized this is wish-fulfillment and it could easily get out of control in anybody’s hands.”

No one on the panel named specific people they would put on such a list; that was a bit too far even for the makers of a horror film. But Wingard, a horror veteran whose past films include the recent remake of Blair Witch and 2011’s You’re Next, was asked a provocative question from an audience member: “Who is your super villain? Who is someone who scares you?”

Wingard didn’t take long to answer, and got a huge laugh and cheers from the thousands in the hall: “Uh, the President of the United States?”

An awkward moment followed thanks to Lakeith Stanfield, who costars as “L” in the film, a detective investigating this string of strange deaths who hides his name and face so he can’t be taken out by the killer.

“I also really like the Joker,” Stanfield said. “Not necessarily the latest incarnation, but the one from Heath Ledger.”

Backstage, David Ayer, who directed Jared Leto as the most recent version of the Batman villain in Suicide Squad, waited to take the stage to present his Netflix movie Bright.


But Wingard’s smackdown got bigger cheers.

Death Note debuts on Netflix on Aug. 25.

Death Note

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  • Adam Wingard