As part of the delayed success of both the book and movie versions of The Da Vinci Code and the video game Assassins Creed: Brotherhood — and maybe the fascination with building things and explosions brought on by The Mythbusters, I guess? — Leonard Da Vinci is about to be reconstituted into an action movie hero. Universal Pictures has just bought the rights to a new screenplay called Leonardo, that depicts the famed artist and inventor on a “quest to stop Renaissance Europe from returning to the Dark Ages.”
I hope the “Dark Ages” is depicted as a literal “magical” darkness threatening to sweep through the land, because that’s how I used to imagine it as a kid. But even if it’s just stopping some sort of conspiracy that conveniently relates wealth hoarding and class oppression, the studio is most likely aiming for an action-adventure franchise. This follows a path currently being traveled by John Cusack’s The Raven and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, so while Da Vinci is normally depicted like this:
He will probably be transformed into a proto-Tony Stark from the Iron Man movies and comicbooks. And he’ll be portrayed by a 20-something actor to ensure that nobody gets too skeeved out during the sex scenes, or just the occasional shirtless shot. It’s really such a brilliant idea, I can’t understand why nobody has done it yet, and then in my research I saw the header pic. And this:
So it looks like Universal snatched this property up in order to beat Marvel to their proverbial punch. Not to mention Sony’s recent deal to adapt the Assassin’s Creed franchise into a live-action movie, which Universal was also interested in, now seemingly because of Da Vinci’s prominence in the second game, Brotherhood. But this was before game producer Ubisoft demanded too high a creative price and the studio balked. Since Leonardo is an original property, Universal likely got it on the cheap, and as long as they hire a newcomer along the lines of Thor’s Chris Hemsworth, they could score a profitable enough hit. Anything’s better than another Transformers by His Baynis.
Speaking of sex scenes (we were, weren’t we, at some point?), neither Leonardo nor the Assassin’s Creed movie are likely to not be true-to-life. The truth where Da Vinci probably enjoyed more, um, “Roman pleasures” — he was a Classical Studies major, after all — that the video game at least alludes to. Even, if awkwardly…
These projects aren’t going to be Oliver Stone’s Alexander, and that’s probably a good thing for several reasons. No, if Da Vinci’s homosexuality is going to make it to a screen near you, it will probably have to be on Starz’s recent pick-up of David Goyer’s “Da Vinci’s Demons.” Goyer has written many, many things you’ve seen, but he isn’t known for scintillating drama, so I wouldn’t be surprised if “Demons” turns out to be pretty pulpy. Which is good, as Starz is no stranger to sex and nudity, of both male and female persuasions, and usually in scenes sans exposition, so there’s no reason for them to skirt the issue here. But if it doesn’t have Leonardo Da Vinci flying around on a single person, steam powered helicopter and kicking evildoers in the face, the TV series might be missing its opportunity to be the best show ever.
Until then, we’ll just have to settle for this (NSFW?).
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force and tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar. This Leonardo concept is straight out of his wheelhouse, so much so that he wonders if Hollywood can see into his dreams.