Netflix is no stranger to superhero shows.
Before breaking ties with Marvel, the streaming platform churned out a handful of brilliant comic book series. Sure there were duds like the nauseatingly-bland Iron Fist and a bogged-down second season of Luke Cage, but there were success stories too – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Punisher. Those series were carefully-crafted, contained dramas that could trade punches with their big-screen counterparts.
I want you to think of those superhero shows, the good and bad, and think about them hard – their storylines, how “inventive” and “revolutionary” they were — and then I want you to throw those ideas of what a superhero show should be in the trash. Douse them in gasoline. Light them on fire.
Because The Umbrella Academy is about as far from typical superhero fare that you’ll ever get.
Based on the graphic novels by Gabriel Ba and Gerard Way – yes, the front-man of My Chemical Romance – The Umbrella Academy charts the story of seven gifted orphans adopted by an eccentric billionaire who has dreams of creating his own personal superhero league. The kids were all born on the same day, to mothers who weren’t pregnant just hours before they gave birth. Each is identified by a number and has their own set of unique powers which we will now list below because simply summarizing them wouldn’t do justice to the level of weird this series is attempting to conquer.
Luther Hargreeves (Tom Hopper) is #1, the leader of the group. He’s spent years in space following a disastrous mission that nearly killed him. A life-saving procedure was performed, stitching his head to the body of a massive ape which explains his physical dominance and his extremely large shoe size.
Diego Hargreeves (David Castaneda) is #2, a Batman-wannabe with serious issues. He harbors some resentment towards Luther and his adoptive father and prefers to vent his frustrations through knife-throwing and some shoddy vigilante work.
Allison Hargreeves (Emmy Raver-Lampman) is #3, a young woman who can bend reality to her will by simply whispering rumors into someone’s ear. It’s the gift every teenage girl would kill for, honestly, but Allison doesn’t use it anymore after it wrecked her personal life.
Klaus Hargreeves (Robert Sheehan) is #4, a quirky Goth who can commune with the dead. Obviously, entertaining spirits is not a fun time, so he heavily abuses drugs to drown out the noise. He’s also gender non-binary, queer, and a hell of a fun time.
The Boy (Aidan Gallagher) is #5, a kid who went missing after using his time-traveling abilities to jump to the future. Turns out, the apocalypse is nigh and #5 finds a way to return to his family to help prevent it, but he’s trapped in his younger body which means going through puberty all over again.
Ben Hargreeves (Ethan Hwang) is #6, who died of unknown causes long before we meet the Academy kids. We get glimpses of him as a child that suggest his ability included transforming into various monsters at will, and he pops up every now and then thanks to Klaus séance skills.
Vanya Hargreeves (Ellen Page) is the youngest of the siblings, an unextraordinary girl with no known powers and a mediocre talent for the violin. She’s meek and mild-mannered and wholly uninteresting so of course, she’s probably the most threatening of the group because you don’t have Ellen Page in your show and not give her something to do.