The Umbrella Academy is an apocalyptic, time traveling, sci-fi, murder mystery family drama that really has something for everyone.
The Umbrella Academy has quickly become one of the most watched comic book adaptations on Netflix, perfectly blending comedy with action. When it first come out, in February 2019, it was an immediate hit. Based on the comic book series written by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, first published by Dark Horse Comics in 2007, The Umbrella Academy quickly gained a following of new and old fans leading to its inevitable renewal for a second season, which drops on Netflix on Friday 31st July. Here are 7 reasons to love The Umbrella Academy, if you don’t already.
1. THE SHOW’S OVERALL PREMISE
The series follows seven superpowered characters, all born on the same day before being adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) who used them to form The Umbrella Academy, a team of teen superheroes. The Netflix show picks up when all the characters are reunited by Hargreeves’s death. As they gather for their estranged guardian’s funeral, the fifth child, known only as Number Five (Aidan Gallagher), returns from the future. He had disappeared when he was thirteen, and his return brings news of the oncoming apocalypse. The Umbrella Academy stands out in the saturated market of superhero focused media, as it blends a mix of different genres, from sci-fi to murder mystery.
2. THE SHOW’S VISUAL STYLE
Thanks to cinematographers Neville Kidd (Sherlock, Outlander) and Craig Wrobleski (Fargo, The X-Files), The Umbrella Academy’s visual elements are a strong selling point of the show. Along with the set and production design, the series has a similar feel to Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events: it’s an overall look that creates a feeling of unfamiliarity, taking us out of reality. Many of the show’s shots have an old-fashioned look, showing that the past is more important to these characters than we may think. Christopher Hargadon (Hannibal, The X-Files)’s costume design gives each of the characters a quirky and unique look that reflects their personalities.
3. IT’S BASED ON GERARD WAY AND GABRIEL BA’S COMIC BOOK SERIES
The 2007 comic version of The Umbrella Academy was created and written by My Chemical Romance’s frontman, Gerard Way, and illustrated by Gabriel Ba. To date, there have been 24 issues of the comic over three volumes – Apocalypse Suite, Dallas and Hotel Oblivion. Way wrote The Umbrella Academy while still in the band, meaning that it was already a popular comic among their fans. However, newer fans of Way may know him from his involvement with DC Comics’ Doom Patrol volume 6 in 2016, which has subsequently been adapted into a TV series that premiered in 2019. Way’s storytelling is witty and fast paced, and contains a wide range of characters and settings, making anything he works on memorable.
4. ROBERT SHEEHAN AS KLAUS, AKA NUMBER FOUR
With a cast of talent including Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman, David Castaneda, Aiden Gallagher and Justin H. Min, it’s difficult to choose a performance that stands out among the crowd, but Robert Sheehan manages to do so. Sheehan’s character, Klaus, was already popular, but the Misfits actor managed to flesh out the character, bringing him to life, so it’s no surprise that he’s already a beloved fan favourite for old and new fans. In The Umbrella Academy, Klaus has the ability to communicate with the dead: this is definitely one of the most interesting powers we see in the show, but also a power that complicates the character’s everyday life. Sheehan plays Klaus as the comic relief of the show, but with a depth to his character that we rarely see these roles have. Throughout the series, we see Klaus struggle and overcome more obstacles that the other members of the family. This gives him more development and a more complex relationship with the other characters, which makes us want to see more of him.
5. THE SOUNDTRACK
The Umbrella Academy’s score was composed by Jeff Russo (Fargo, Lucifer) and incorporates music from The Doors, Tiffany and Queen. With both the show’s score and a mix of songs from the 70s to modern hits, the soundtrack is just as wacky as the show. It compliments what we see on screen, as well as being wacky and exciting, with fight scenes choreographed to songs such as Bay City Rollers’ Saturday Night and There Might Be Giants’ Istanbul (not Constantinople), which make the series seem epic with a fresh spin. The Umbrella Academy even incorporates music from its comic book roots, with covers of Simon & Garfunkel’s Hazy Shade Of Winter and The Turtles’ Happy Together, sung by Gerard Way along with his My Chemical Romance bandmate, guitarist Ray Toro.
6. THE FAMILY DYNAMIC
The Umbrella Academy essentially revolves around a family, giving the show an emotional core and sense of depth that many superhero focused medias lack. The show’s fresh family dynamic, which is somewhat unexpected in the superhero genre, gives The Umbrella Academy the ability to explore sibling relationships and rivalries, managing to ground the story of their bizarre upbringing through the theme of family.
7. AN ADAPTATION THAT EMBRACES CHANGE
The Umbrella Academy manages to respect its source material, while making slight changes to elements of the plot which make the comics story flow better on screen. The adaptation isn’t completely complicit with the plot of Way’s comic series, especially when it comes to pacing. There are more gaps to fill in when adapting a comic as opposed to a novel, which proves beneficial for The Umbrella Academy as it means that there is a higher level of creative freedom. One major change is that the series doesn’t feel as dark as the comics, due to the soundtrack and some of the writing, but this change isn’t necessarily bad. Netflix’s adaptation manages to combine elements of the comics with changes that are new but fit well with the tone of the series nonetheless.
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