The hate for Netflix's Death Note adaptation is real. Critics aren't too thrilled while some fans wish they had a Death Note of their own to kill off the movie on Netflix, seriously. The source of all the hate: changes.
Death Note, like many other beloved franchises, is one where fans feel the source material is sacred. So when changes were made to race, location, plot, and even some of the characters' names, disdain was the guaranteed response. Having seen the original anime, I agree it's damn near flawless. The movie didn't stand a chance. This doesn't mean that #AdamWingard's interpretation of Death Note was a failure, because it wasn't. In fact, the film managed to correct my one true gripe with the anime: Misa Amane.
Note: This article contains spoilers for both the recent Death Note film and anime.
Misa Is The Anime's Weakest Link; Mia Is The Film's Greatest Asset
I don't hate Misa. She's fun and charming, plus at times works pretty well as the comic relief. She even started off as a potential badass by being the mystery second Kira. Then she met Light, found out he was Kira, and did whatever he said without question. Her sole motivation in life became making Light fall in love with her. He never did. As the #anime went on it became painful to see her believe her worth was only in relation to the object of her affection, especially when it was too obvious Light saw her as little more than a tool. Adding to that, her comic relief grew tedious; any moment I ever rolled my eyes watching the anime was when Misa was in the scene.
Thankfully, in Wingard's version, Mia Sutten (Margaret Qualley) is nothing like Misa. She's smart and willing to take charge, come up with plans, and most importantly, she values herself. When she discovers Light has the #DeathNote she's the one who immediately sees how it can change the world. She falls for him, but not unconditionally; she loves him for writing names in the book. In some sick way she's turned on by Light because of the murders and him being worshiped as a god under the guise of "Kira". The moments when Light wants to stop writing names, her affection wanes, too. It's not healthy, but it's at least her choice and made on her own terms. It's this dynamic that makes the changes to the film worthwhile, and takes what could have been your stereotypical YA drama and turns it into a twisted romance of two killers. And throughout it I never rolled my eyes – at least not because of her.
Regardless of all the other nonsense, like L's breakdown when Watari dies, Light's screaming and his ridiculous motivations, it was the twist with Mia that saved this movie. Toward the climax she reveals to #Light she wrote his name down and he'll die by midnight if he refuses to hand over the Death Note. With the film having taken so many liberties with the source material, this was the one change I approved of the most as Light Turner was no Light Yagami, but Mia almost was.
Mia Was The Better 'Kira' And Willing To Do What Light Wouldn't
From the get-go, Light Turner made it clear that he had boundaries. Yes, even as someone willing to use a magical notebook to kill people, he had a code: no law enforcement and definitely no family were to be touched. Only criminals were to be killed.
To Mia, there were no boundaries; defying Kira was all the transgression she needed to want to write their name in the Death Note. Killing law enforcement pursuing Kira? No problem. Telling her boyfriend they need to murder his father? Sure. Attempting to kill her boyfriend when he won't get the job done? Cool with her. As wrong as all this is, she did what needed to be done, and that's exactly what the anime's Light Yagami did, too—y'know the guy we wish Light Turner was. Seriously, I wish Mia had been the sole Kira in this film.
Mia Has All The Potential To Play An Even Bigger Role In A Sequel
While Light Turner bested Mia, killing her via a multi-layered and infallible plan that would do Light Yagami proud, Mia doesn't have to stay dead. All that would have to happen is a Shinigami save her like in the #manga and anime and voila, she makes her return. Maybe this Shinigami can be named Rem and give her a Death Note?
In this potential sequel Mia would no longer be working with Light. Her only ally would be Rem and she would serve as an antagonist to Light while the two separately hunt L. It would be all new territory for the franchise, but an exciting new space to explore.
If Adam Wingard gets his wish and #Netflix green lights a Death Note sequel, Mia should absolutely be in the forefront. She was the driving force behind this version of Kira along with Light's motivation to carry on and she did the questionable but necessary acts Light was too afraid of. Without her there would have been no Kira.