Movie/TV trends are sometimes very unpredictable oddities, to say the least. While the impending onslaught of, say, Hollywood-produced board game movies (ex. Battleship, Candyland, etc.) may have seemed inevitable, who would have expected there to be multiple projects in development, all of which re-envision the life of famed Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci as an action hero?
Universal Pictures' newly-announced Leonardo is the latest addition to the pack of upcoming Da Vinci projects, which also includes Warner Bros.' Leonardo Da Vinci and the Soldiers of Forever - along with Starz' Da Vinci's Demons television series.
Variety is reporting that Universal has purchased the Leonardo spec, which was penned by Jonny Kurzman (M.I.High). The project will be produced by Oscar-nominees Lawrence and Charles Gordon, whose joint production credits include the first two Die Hard movies and The Rocketeer; the former also worked behind-the-scenes on Watchmen, while C. Gordon's most recent production effort was Hitman, back in 2007.
The plot of Leonardo is said to be "focused on da Vinci's quest to stop Renaissance Europe from returning to the Dark Ages." Similar to the aforementioned da Vinci projects, Leonardo picks up with the legendary artist and inventor (among many other things) as a young man.
Da Vinci's Demons is being pegged as a historical fantasy piece that explores the "untold" aspects of its namesake's life and envisions the man as (essentially) the Renaissance equivalent of Tony Stark/Iron Man. Soldiers of Forever will be more a pulpy fantasy-adventure movie, along the lines of the National Treasure and Indiana Jones series... with, apparently, a dash of Clash of the Titans-style mythological subject matter added to the mix (take that as you will).
Leonardo is being described (on Kurzman's official CV) as a "comedy action-adventure feature." Whether that means it will mix humor and action in a manner similar to Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes movies - or be more of an outright campy period adventure, a la Paul W.S. Anderson's The Three Musketeers - remains to be seen.
On that note - the airships in Anderson's Musketeers adaptation were (in the context of the film, at least) based on schematics designed by da Vinci. Don't be surprised if similar Renaissance-style technology shows up in most, if not all, of the upcoming da Vinci action movies/TV shows.
It's difficult to say for certain whether or not both of the in-development da Vinci-based studio productions will actually come to fruition. The two projects may ultimately prove to be very different in tone and style, similar to the dual Snow White movies (Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman) - or even the two Abraham Lincoln flicks (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Steven Spielberg's Lincoln biopic) - due out in 2012.
Warner Bros. and Universal officials may both ultimately decide to press ahead with their respective da Vinci films, should they feel the projects offer sufficiently "unique" takes on the man's life to distinguish themselves from the competition. Whether or not moviegoers will be interested in seeing two action flicks about da Vinci is, of course, another matter altogether...
We will continue to keep you posted on the status of Leonardo as the story develops.