Starz has released a teaser trailer for its upcoming alternate history serial.
Leonardo Da Vinci lived in a dangerous and interesting time. He resided in Italy when the nation was still the center of the world, and the Renaissance was in full swing. New ideas were around every corner, and the Vatican was basically an organized crime syndicate under the corrupt Borgia family, who all but owned the papacy from the mid-1400s to the early 1500s.
In his own time, Da Vinci was revered mostly as a painter, but the modern world regards him as the quintessential 'Renaissance Man'. His talent was multifaceted, and his creativity possibly unrivaled in all of human history.
But what if, in addition to all of that, Da Vinci was a sort of renaissance version of a super hero; a fifteenth century Batman who fights evil and ignorance with his fists and clever gadgets?
That's essentially the premise of Da Vinci's Demons, an eight-part mini-series which will air on Starz next year.
The synopsis is thus:
In a world where thought and faith are controlled, one man fights to set knowledge free.
The secret history of Leonardo Da Vinci's tantalizing life reveals a portrait of a young man tortured by a gift of superhuman genius. He is a heretic intent on exposing the lies of religion. An insurgent seeking to subvert an elitist society. A bastard son who yearns for legitimacy with his father.
He finds himself in the midst of a storm that has been brewing for centuries. A conflict between truth and lies, religion and reason, past and future. His aspirations are used against him by the opposing forces of the time—luring him into a game of seduction where those who despise his intellect need him most.
Leonardo must take up the fight against foes who use history to suppress the truth. A hero armed only with genius,
Da Vinci stands alone against the darkness within, and the darkness without.
Facing an uncertain future, his quest for knowledge nearly becomes his undoing as he explores the fringes of his own sanity. Da Vinci throws himself into his genius and emerges as an unstoppable force that lifts an entire era out of darkness and propels it into light.
His story becomes a mirror into our own world, calling us all to join his fight to Free the Future.
The trailer looks a lot more action packed than the synopsis sounds like it will be, so I guess we'll just have to see which is the better representative. Either way, the renaissance is one of the most interesting eras for alternated history/fantasy tales.
More than the typical pseudo medieval era, the renaissance is a time of naturally dramatic change, the transition to firearm warfare, the introduction of the scientific method and modern medicine, the focus on invention and creativity, it's all very compelling, and so much can be done with it. I have high hopes that this show will take advantage of that. Despite low ratings - and thus early cancellation, I thought that Starz' last attempt at historical fantasy, Camelot, was quite good.
The serial was written by David S. Goyer, who has also been working with Warner Bros. on their super hero films lately, and stars Tom Riley as Leonardo.
Riley, for this part, has been doing some method acting, as he described to Hollywood Reporter: "The show is insanely ambitious in scope, schedule, action and the nature of Leonardo's mind.
"My apartment is littered with sketches in various stages of completion that I attempted with my weaker hand, as well as reams of backwards writing. I've got a handy pair of foam nunchuks that I've been given to increase dexterity in my left wrist, so the double-handed sword fighting comes more naturally than it otherwise would. Safe to say, this job has pushed me harder and into stranger directions than any I've had before."
Da Vinci's Demons will premier in the Spring on Starz. No word on a chance for more episodes if these eight go well.