As one of the pioneering architects of the modern superhero film, crafting screenplays for the "Blade Trilogy," Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel" and "Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice," along with co-writing the scripts for Alex Proyas' "Dark City" and Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Trilogy," producer/director David S. Goyer is a creative force wherever his prolific pen happens to appear.
Nicknamed the "Prince of Darkness" for his predilection to the nocturnal shades of pop culture material, Goyer has now immersed himself in the universe of sci-fi legend Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" novels with his stellar adaptation for Apple TV+, now entering a second season starting on Friday (July 14). This ambitious project has been decades in the making, and he considers it an honor to finally bring it to life for the small screen, injected with impressive big-screen bravado.
Starring Lee Pace, Jared Harris, Laura Birn, Lou Llobell and Leah Harvey, "Foundation" Season 2 picks up a century after the 2021 finale as war brews with Hari Seldon's Foundation movement, the Cleonic dynasty starts to unravel, a crafty queen plots to wreck Empire internally and a dangerous colony of psychic Mentalics are discovered that might destroy the outcomes of psychohistory.
"I remember my father giving me "Foundation" when I was 13, and it was a paperback omnibus collection of the original trilogy," Goyer told Space.com. "He said this was the greatest science fiction book of all time. I don’t think I read it until I was about 25. It was always out there in the background as something influential to me. It was almost like the Bible in terms of its import for science fiction. A couple of times in my career I was offered the opportunity to adapt it as a feature, and both times I turned it down.
"I didn't think there was any way to distill it down into a feature or even a trilogy, and I didn't think I was ready as a creator to take on something so monumental. Having adapted other things like Batman and Superman and worked on the recent 'Terminator,' and having become a father, I thought maybe now that I'm past 50 I have enough experience and hubris to think this is possible. And with the advent of streaming, it felt like there was an audience for a big novelistic show like this. It felt like the timing was right, and when the opportunity came, I said, 'This scares the hell out of me, but let's go for it and give it a try.'"
"Foundation's" superb visual effects can be compared to any major Hollywood sci-fi, fantasy or horror feature, including anything from the "Star Wars" galaxy. As a sci-fi nerd himself, Goyer is extremely proud of Chris MacLean and Mike Enriquez's SFX team and their series commitment.
"Those guys are amazing, and I ask a lot of them," Goyer said. "I'm very involved in visual effects and QC every shot. We have over 4,000 of them in Season 2. They might see 15-20 iterations of a shot, but I might see four. I'm a VFX geek as well, and I want the show to be as good as possible. Whether that's a sound effect or a visual effect, I want the shots to be as beautiful and photo-real as humanly possible. We kick back lots of shots. Our vendors are heroic, and they put the show on their reels."
Season 2 will expand "Foundation's" storyline exponentially, and fans will definitely notice the strong tonal shift and more propulsive narrative after the heavy lifting setup of the initial season.
"Having unburdened ourselves of a lot of necessary exposition in Season 1, we felt that we could dive in much quicker and focus more on the human elements and raw emotions," Goyer said. "It is a faster pace. We don't jump around in time, and I think that also makes for a slightly easier access point for the audience. One of the pieces of feedback that I'm very proud of for the first season of 'Foundation' was just how expansive it was and how cinematic it felt. I thought, 'Can we top ourselves in Season 2?' I think we did, but it almost killed us. The main reason we were able to do that was because we'd set the ground rules for our various worlds and knew where the basic players were, and now we could play a little bit of jazz."
One difference fans will likely hear in "Foundation's" sophomore release is the abundance of F-bombs and profanity-laced phrases spoken by characters that were absent before. There's a very good reason for the spicier language.
"Season 1's rating was TV-15, and you're not allowed F-bombs," Goyer explained. "There were only two in the scripts and so, at the time, the powers that be thought we could eliminate them and get to TV-15 fairly easily and might reach a broader audience. I said, 'If I do that, can I switch to TV-MA in the second season?' and they said I could. It’s a very flexible word, and I missed having that in my quiver."
Goyer is understandably excited to introduce Asimov's Mentalics and the Church of the Galactic Spirit to audiences as the new season unfolds into mounting conflicts.
"It's interesting with the Mentalics, because in a series that's dealing with psychohistory and these predictions through science, people might think it's odd that Asimov would have introduced characters that had psionic abilities, that in some ways were very much the forerunners of the Jedi. The only real thing we did was basically backdate Gaal Dornick as being someone with those abilities into Season 1. And in the case of the Church of the Galactic Spirit, that's something that was absolutely in the books. Asimov was very interested in the intersection between science and religion and the ways those two things could be weaponized.
"The one thing he didn't have was an extant Hari Seldon to play all those themes against, and what are the dangers of building a character up to be something like a prophet or demigod. If they continue as an AI that's purportedly trying to save humanity, what are the dangers when that character becomes increasingly further and further removed from humanity?
"I think if Asimov had been aware of AI, I believe that Hari Seldon would have existed as an AI and not just a holographic recording. If you've got an AI, the question is how does that AI evolve, and if it's awake over the course of the centuries, what does that do, and is there mission drift?"
Composer Bear McCreary's ("Black Sails," "The Walking Dead") phenomenal "Foundation" score is a revelation to absorb, and it amplifies Goyer's solid narrative construction as an indelible component.
"Bear and I are good friends, and we've collaborated together at least five times," Goyer said. "When I first started working with him on "DaVinci's Demons," he was at a dry spell in his career. He's one of the greats, and we have a close relationship with each other. At the beginning of each season I usually sit down with him in his studio and we talk about the big themes, what characters do they apply to and what are the colors of those various themes. He'll sit down at his piano and mess around for three or four hours and just work on themes. Once we've nailed those down, then we go music spot each episode. I'm on the mix stage with Bear, and we get really deep into it and roll up our sleeves. I think he's one of the best composers out there."
"Foundation's" 10-episode Season 2 premieres on July 14 exclusively on Apple TV+.