We’re entering an era of high fantasy and science-fiction like never before, a time when genre elements are embraced by the masses, and complicated, admittedly geeky projects like Avatar, Dune, and the MCU are hugely successful. As such, it’s the perfect time for something like Foundation to be released.
Based on Isaac Asimov’s acclaimed series of novels and stories — which arguably make Frank Herbert seem like Dr. Seuss — Foundation is perhaps the most epic and ambitious sci-fi series ever made. The Apple TV+ show already has an eight-season plan, and after a dazzling, $45 million first season, the series is off to the races with an even bigger, better, and bolder sophomore outing.
Creator David S. Goyer is one of the few talents capable of tackling such a project, thanks to his meticulous attention to lore and canon, his intellectual respect of his audience, and his prior success. Goyer penned the script for Batman Begins and the story for all of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, the Blade films, the underrated masterpiece Dark City, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Terminator: Dark Fate. This is a man who knows his science-fiction, and has a proven track record for adapting formerly nerdy things into extremely successful franchises.
Foundation, though, is a different beast altogether. With a massive cast of characters, an interplanetary scope, and heady themes of political theory, religious doctrine, and the way empires rise and fall. Goyer spoke with MovieWeb about the second season of Foundation, the first episode of which is now on Apple TV+, with new episodes streaming weekly every Friday through September 15.
Why Adapt Isaac Asimov?
MovieWeb: Foundation is such a cool show, and it’s interesting that it’s kind of coming out at a time when empires are changing the way they were in the ’40s and ’50s when Asimov started writing this. Why did you want to adapt something of such massive scope? Why Foundation? Is it masochism?
David S. Goyer: [Laughs] A little bit? I mean, look, I like the challenge of it. I don’t think I could have adapted this when I was 40. I’m over 50 now, and having had some other difficult adaptations sort of prepared me for this. But I also don’t think this show never could have happened before streaming, and before shows like Game of Thrones. So I think it was kind of the right place, right time.
It would be boring if I just tackled things that I knew for sure […] If you’re not kind of out there on the edge as an artist, then what the hell are you doing?
How Foundation Takes a Page from James Cameron
MW: What has been the key to telling such a grand, complicated tale in a coherent way, and what have you learned from season one that helps you do it better in season two?
David S. Goyer: Well, season two was a lot easier than season one, because season one had to do a lot of heavy expositional lifting. It took us about three episodes just to kind of get through the basic concepts of the genetic dynasty and psychohistory and what the Foundation is, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. We weren’t burdened with any of that in season two, so we could really hit the ground running and come out, like, shot out of the cannon. And so that part was a lot easier.
David S. Goyer: Yes, there’s a diehard audience that loves the books, that loves hard science fiction, but I know for the show to succeed, it needs to appeal to a much larger audience. That’s a lesson I took from James Cameron; you know, in order for him to make the Avatar movies, he needed to make the themes as kind of universal and humanistic as possible. And we tried to do that in season one, but really, with my writers and my directors and the actors, tried to double down on that in season two, and just make sure that all the themes we’re working through in the stories are really universal, and would work even if you stripped all the science-fiction out of them.
David S. Goyer Previews Foundation Season 2
MW: What are you most excited about audiences seeing in season two?
David S. Goyer: We get to learn how Demerzel came to be in the employ of empire, and I think that’s a really surprising story, and we made the audience wait almost 20 episodes before we reveal that. I told Laura Birn, who plays Eto Demerzel, that her character was going to be a slow-burn, and I’m really excited for that, because I think that recontextualizes a lot of what you’ve seen in the prior 18 episodes. I’m really excited for characters to learn more of Hari Seldon’s backstory, which is again something we held back.
David S. Goyer: And Bel Riose is a personal favorite of mine, when I grew up reading the books, so I’m excited for people to see him brought to life as embodied by Ben Daniels, who’s just a national treasure over here in England, and I’ve been a fan of his for a long time.
If Goyer’s epic eight-season plan is fulfilled, and even if not, there will certainly be new Foundation fans for a long time, as well. The first episode of season two is now on Apple TV+, followed by new episodes of Foundation weekly every Friday through September 15.