Umbrella Academy, everyone’s new X-Men?


Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

Production still from 'The Umbrella Academy' - season 1, episode 1. Image used with permission.

Jessica Carter, Staff Writer

On the 12th hour of the first day of October 1989, for no discernible reason, 43 women all over the world suddenly gave birth despite not being pregnant previously. Sir Reginald Hargreeves, the world’s richest and most adventurous man, was able to obtain and adopt seven of these children and raises them to be a superhero team, since all of them (most of them) have superpowers. Now, years later, the kids are all grown up, Hargreeves is dead, and everybody is all sorts of jacked up by the ridiculous circumstances of their upbringing. That’s the center hook of Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy—an adaptation of the Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá comic book of the same name—and it’s a pretty good hook.

But doesn’t it sound a lot like another famous hook? Children born with exceptional powers? All lead by a father figure training them to control their powers to become heroes? You guessed it, X-men!

But don’t get me wrong, Umbrella Academy has its differences from the average superhero fiction, drama action show. I mean, starting a superhero show off with a concert violinist playing “Phantom of the Opera” and setting a department store shoot-out to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”? That’s pretty off-beat. Including the shallowness of super hero mother-figures by using satire to make one a literal 1950s robot? Pretty different. Can’t forget Pogo, our talking monkey servant. Conventional yet intriguing. And regardless of the team being predominantly male, they did make an attempt at diversity: Diego, our hispanic character who’s a master of knife throwing; Allison, our black, female character who’s a master of manipulation and rumor spreading (unforgivable by the way); Klaus, our openly gay character who can commune with the dead; Vanya, our female and ‘powerless’ character of all the siblings; and Ben, our Asian character, currently deceased and can control monsters from different dimensions through his stomach (quite a unique power might I add).

Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix
Production still from ‘The Umbrella Academy’ – season 1, episode 1. Image used with permission.

So it has its positives and it’s a good show, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are still subjected to the same content. Being guilty of that as well, considering I love superhero shows. But still, even after all this time, superhero TV shows still haven’t found a way to break the mold of repetitive plots.

We have our deceased character that still adds on to plot due to his relevance, a missing character who ‘ironically’ comes back in a time of need to add on to the plot of the story, our vigilante character with no self control, and of course the two characters that were raised as friends but has had feelings for one another the entire time. I mean it’s barely a spoiler to say Vanya has had powers all along that were suppressed by her father’s fear of her being much too powerful (much like with Jean Gray in the X-Men series), because it was all expected. Even the actions of the two villains were expected. In the end, everything was expected. And you may not realize how you’ve been anticipating these outcomes the whole time, because you’ve seen it over and over again.

In the end, the idea of the The Umbrella Academy was very creative, but once it went from pages to pixels everything became the stereotypical action superhero movie that everyone has seen. It still remains an entertaining show. But different? Unique overall? (although unique in certain aspects) That’s not exactly the description I would give.