Da Vinci’s Demons creator David S. Goyer was in Cannes this morning to present clips from the new Starz/BBC Worldwide series that debuts April 12 in the U.S. The Batman trilogy and Man Of Steel scripter said he’d already had a lifelong interest in the famed inventor when he was approached for Da Vinci’s Demons and “wrote a crazy idea I never thought they’d go for.” Likening Da Vinci to the original Batman, whose cape was based Da Vinci’s glider drawings, he said the show could be seen as “Leonardo as a superhero.” British actor Tom Riley, who plays Da Vinci, was also in the MIPTV audience and showed off his ambidextrous talents in snippets from the series which got a rousing reaction.
The historical fantasy series follows the untold story of the world’s greatest genius during his turbulent youth in Renaissance Florence. “It’s Da Vinci before he became Da Vinci,” Goyer said; “He had a big mouth, he was thrown in jail, he was arrogant and self-destructive. In another reference to Batman, he said, “I like telling stories of mythic figures before they become mythic figures.” Goyer’s Da Vinci was not solely based on Batman, but it was “a primary source” of inspiration, he said. But it was hard writing about the great genius. “One of the things we struggled with is how do you depict the world from Da Vinci’s point of view.” To come up with what he called “Da Vinci vision,” Goyer said a phantom camera was used to film in high speeds.
The eight-episode first season will “hopefully” lead to “five or six seasons” Goyer said, with each season loosely tracking a well-known historical moment. “Increasingly TV is becoming more event-like and cinematic. The big difference between film and TV is that you can take a novelistic approach,” with one story lasting eight episodes and leading to a big arc over 60 hours.
The show will also deal with Da Vinci’s bisexuality. Goyer explained, “He was arrested and tried for sodomy twice and we deal with that in the first series. I expect it to be an extremely controversial episode, which I love.”