The 2010s has introduced us all to many superhero movies and television shows based on comic books. The market is a bit oversaturated but there is certainly enough love to go around. Netflix's newest hit show The Umbrella Academy is a superhero drama-comedy based on a comic book by the same name.
Unlike previous Netflix superhero shows produced by Marvel, this one stands out on its own. Written by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, it isn't a Marvel or DC property making it unique to television already. The original story centers on an eccentric billionaire/inventor (and secret extraterrestrial) named Sir Reginald Hargreeves.
After moving to earth and buying an old umbrella shop, he adopts seven children after a spontaneous and mysterious human event. On October 1st, 1989, 43 women around the world give birth unexpectedly despite none of them showing any previous signs of pregnancy when they woke up that morning.
These children were born with special superpowers and Reginald Hargreeves raises them to be a unique superteam training to save the world from an unknown threat. All but one, Vanya, are on the team. She doesn't seem to have special powers but does have quite the talent for music. Though they all call him father, Reginald doesn't treat them very paternally and only refers to them as numbers in the order in which he bought them.
A robot nanny named Grace is created by Reginald and programmed to care for the children as their mother. All seven siblings are known by their Umbrella team name, their number, and the name given to them by Grace. They are: Spaceboy/Number One/Luther Hargreeves; The Kraken/Number Two/Diego Hargreeves; The Rumor/Number Three/Allison Hargreeves; The Seance/Number Four/Klaus Hargreeves; The Boy/Number five, The Horror/Number Six/Ben Hargreeves; and The White Violin/Number seven/Vanya Hargreeves.
The series tone begins as dark and somber as the adult siblings reunite for the first time in years after their father's death. Only five siblings initially return home for the funeral. We learn that Ben, the horror, died during a past mission which was why the Umbrella Academy disbanded and went their separate ways. Number Five is also missing after getting lost in time. However, the dark mood doesn't linger for long or overpower the series.
A viral dance scene from the first episode introduces us shows to the five Hargreeve siblings totally rocking out in their old home in separately after a fight to Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now." Here we get a good idea of their personalities and a foreshadowing of many upbeat rock songs throughout the series.
The dance is to inspire us to dance like no one is watching. We also learn very early on that the Hargreeve siblings have a special bond and comraderie even if they don't always see it.
In an exclusive interview with star Justin Min who plas the deceased Ben, we spoke to him about the sudden popularity of the show and what makes The Umbrella Academy different from other superhero shows. He said "The Umbrella Academy resonates because of its relatability. At the end of the day, it's not about the superpowers or craziness, its about a family. And the dynamics of a dysfunctional family, yet the love that a family has underneath." It's true. The Umbrella Academy has an underlying heart.
The Marvel shows all have a certain amount of grit and overall darkness. They all seem to have a lone hero with a dark past and little connection to an outside world. Not here. Here, we have a team who truly love each other and takes the time to joke around and give each other trouble even during imminent threats. What are siblings for?
Throughout the series, we learn more about all the siblings and their powers. Luther (Tom Hopper) is the golden child with super strength has never even left the team and having just spent four years on the moon. Diego (David Castaneda) can curve the trajectory of anything he throws as well as hold his breath for a long time. He also likes to get into trouble. Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) can make others believe anything by saying the phrase, "I heard a rumor" which she used to become famous.
Klaus has grown into a drug addict whose power is to communicate with the dead. Something that can haunt him while sober. Number Five (Aidan Gallagher) who appears as 58-year-old trapped in a 15-year-old's body can travel anywhere in time. A deceased Ben used to be able to summon monsters from other dimensions under from his skin to use in defense. Vanya (Ellen Page) is a professional violinist who always struggled with her lack of ability which caused a disconnect from her siblings.
Her story of finding herself is a leading plot point in season one. We see her express her loyalty and support for her distant siblings, but she is being pulled in another direction to some darkness. There is also a lot to learn about all of the others too. The boys have a special brother bond as do Allison and Vanya as sisters. Diego also cares deeply for their mother Grace.
The living six siblings are all so different yet cast chemistry keeps the sarcastic lines flowing so easily, you forget their lives are in danger. The Hargreeves are of course being pursued by two hitmen because what is a superhero show without conflict? The fight scenes are wonderfully choreographed and there is some blood and gore, but don't worry! That's fun too. You'll have to see if your self to know what we mean.
With Marvel leaving Netflix in the next year and taking all of their acclaimed superhero shows with them, The Umbrella Academy proves that they'll be just fine, if not better. It's refreshing for a new kind of superhero show that follows a different formula. One that makes us laugh and dance while simultaneously making our adrenaline rush.
The ten-episode first season flows smoothly and all too quickly. It's an enjoyable show that introduces us to characters we can relate to and actually care about. There was a season one cliffhanger, so we definitely hope to see season two!
Have you watched The Umbrella Academy? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!