THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: The Saviors, The Broken, And The DamnedMarch 26, 2019
When it comes to superhero movies, or even super powers in general, you can just about find any kind of hero or power there is. You can find comics outside of Marvel and DC, shows based off characters from other companies, and original characters made exclusively for movies. Some examples would be Hancock, Hellboy, Spawn, and Kick-Ass. Sure, some of these originated from some comic book, as most do, but not your typical everyday comic hero you always hear about…which leads me to the Umbrella Academy. An edgy take on superheroes, or some would say lack thereof at times but overall delivers something different in the hero realm. How I see it is another take on X-Men but the weird alternate universe version.
The combination of family drama and superheroes is common in the hero universe. The Umbrella Academy feels like a bleak X-Men story, young people with superpowers and little else, training in a mansion under an adoptive father figure. All kids having been born at the same moment of time. One difference is the members of the Umbrella Academy do not and did not have to worry about being feared or anyone being prejudice against them. There are some external threats that help them bond, but much of the series’ focus is on how they relate to each other as members of an extremely dysfunctional family.
That’s where the cast really begins to shine. The biggest name is Ellen Page (an X-Men film veteran herself) as Vanya, the one member of The Umbrella Academy who hasn’t gained any superpowers. She was always kept out of training and missions by Hargreeves, who would constantly tell her “You’re just not special,” Vanya throughout the series begins to struggle while trying to find her place in her family and the world. She is isolated as the family kind of shuns her out due to a memoir she had putt out in the public of her childhood, to where they felt she could not be trusted. Page plays Vanya as withdrawn, practically a portrait in depression and social isolation, though the plot seems likely to give her a chance to show more range as the season progresses.
Klaus, played by Robert Sheehan, has terrible control over his ability to communicate with the dead. To control this he is always intoxicated, making sure he can only contact the dead when sober which is rarely. He’s a charming idiot and a complete screw-up, who brings some of his own form of comedy to the audience. The best casting might be Number Five (Aidan Gallagher), an old man caught in a pubescent boy’s body through a time-travel mishap. He manages to make his rants at his 30-year-old siblings about their idiocy, ineptitude, and youth, impatient with the way everyone from diner servers to shady business owners treat him because of his youthful appearance. At times it may seem like he is too smart for his own good, and he lets his anger get the best of him sometimes where he finds himself in a fight.
The Netflix version of Umbrella Academy does a decent job of keeping some key aspects from the comic books. Things such as a robotic mother, programmed to treat them with compassion and seem life like. A sentient chimpanzee who acts as the butler, serving the house as needed and somewhat guides the children through the death of their father. The time traveling assassins on the hunt for Number Five, trying to fulfill a mission and move on to the next. The comics are a bit more fast paced from the very start, as for the show they slowed it down a bit. Which helps them as they can flush out more of the story instead of it being constantly fast paced. This allows us to see some side plots and liked the way they portrayed Hazel and Cha-Cha. The bickering between them, along with the struggles of being screwed by their superiors make for an entertaining duo. You also see the struggle of Allison who lost her daughter in a custody battle after a divorce and had to work her way back from nothing.
Gerard Way the original writer and also co-executive produced the Netflix series — was the front man of the defunct band My Chemical Romance, and he’s contributed to the show’s excellent soundtrack. Music is a big role in bringing The Umbrella Academy’s quirkier sensibilities to the forefront. While brooding over Hargreeves’ death, the siblings each find relief in dancing to Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” by themselves. Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” proves the high-tempo backdrop for a shootout in a department store, with Hazel continuing the show’s marriage of humor and action by periodically pausing to admire the merchandise. I have to say the soundtrack has been one of my favorite parts of the show entirely. The songs were perfect for the moments given, it really helps brings out the best of all characters and sets the tone perfectly for each scene.
Changes like these haven’t seem to hurt them in any form of way. This show is not for everyone as it does get very weird at times. It’s a different take and feel for mutants, and although you may think the plot may look familiar, the cast and crew do a good job of adding their own flare to it. The first season consisted of 10 episodes, and they are already working on the second. With the second pulling ideas from both the second and third volume. Which would mean if they continue any forward character development and stories to tell will all be new content. It’s a good show if you want to see what a duller looking X-Men would look like, with a great soundtrack to really bring the series together. It will be interesting to see how the second season comes along and looking forward to see how the Umbrella Academy saves the world in their own quirky way.