Everyone knows the artist-as-hero myth, but what about the artist as action hero? From what I can tell, that’s essentially the premise of a new Starz show coming in April called Da Vinci’s Demons.
The hilariously epic and intense trailer for the show (above) posits Leonardo as a kind of badass, knife-wielding adventurer who may or may not see supernatural phenomena (unclear) — and who, of course, only wears shirts and leather jackets that reveal his impressive pectorals and abs. Or, as Wired reports, “series star Tom Riley (Leonardo) described his character as a cross between Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes.”
The show itself seems like an attempt to capitalize on the huge success of the historical fantasy series Game of Thrones, with the creators probably hoping to tap some of the audience for The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons as well. “In a world where thought and faith are controlled, one man fights to set knowledge free,” reads the beginning of the synopsis on the show’s website. It’s definitely not surprising that David S. Goyer, the behind this series, also wrote the Blade films and the upcoming Superman movie Man of Steel, and co-wrote The Dark Knight trilogy.
All my eye-rolling aside, Da Vinci’s Demons does resurrect the question of how to represent art and artists to a wider audience. Work of Art took the reality TV approach, but by most accounts didn’t succeed; a lot of the discussions surrounding that show centered on how difficult it is to dramatize art making. I sort of doubt that illumination of the creative process was or is the goal of Da Vinci’s Demons, but obviously Goyer and his co-creators have felt the need to turn Leonardo into an exciting, edgy, heroic guy; in the process, they’ll probably attempt to make art making and inventing look like the sexiest things since Sean Connery saved the gold at Fort Knox, parachuted out of a plane, and got the girl.