"The Umbrella Academy" Review: A Different Kind Of Superhero Films

Advika Hue |Feb 16, 2019

The Umbrella Academy focused on family dynamics more than eccentric thrills.

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Cast: Tom Hopper, Ellen Page, Robert Sheehan, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Aidan Gallagher, Mary J Blige, Colm Feore, Cameron Britton

Rating: 3 out of 5

The story of the film is set in an alternative world where John F Kennedy was not assassinated. 43 children were born at precisely the same time from random and unconnected women who didn’t show any sign of pregnancy. Later on, Dr Reginald Hargreeves, a famous adventurer and explorer, located these children and adopted seven of them. He believed that they will become the ones who save the world someday.

Not wanting to develop any feeling for the children, Reginald calls them by the assigned number, rather than their names. He makes stringent rules and forces the kids to follow, saying it’s for the sake of them. The kids were trained to do a more significant mission - saving the world.

Check out the trailer of the film:

The children soon became a superhero group named Umbrella Academy and started to show their superpowers. Allison with the ability to change the reality, Luther with super strength, Diego with knife throwing skill, Ben can summon monsters, Klaus can talk with the dead, The Boy with time travel, and Vanya with… nothing.

Vanya is the exception and the outsider of the group. She spent her life living in the shadows of her siblings and was always told that she was nothing. However, much of this TV series will be told from her perspective. The show will be released on Feb 15 on Netflix.

The method of Reginald has ruined the family. His kids grew up and started to move out after realising the illogicality of their existence.


The story begins with the death of Reginald. He dies after the group was disbanded for over a decade. The siblings reunited at their house to face with the traumas they have been through and to solve the mysterious death of their adoptive father and stop an apocalypse that’s approaching the world.

Commonly, superheroes are made of traumas and pains. Bruce Wayne had to watch his parents murdered, Peter Parker lost his uncle, Clark Kent with abandonment issues, Tony Stark with Post-traumatic stress disorder and so on. And somehow they all decided to face up to their traumas by fighting against crimes in fabulous costumes.

However, The Umbrella Academy is a total opposite. They were messed up being the superheroes. They were thrown into the life that they didn’t want and burdened with responsibility. They had to live under inspection all the time.

Finally, what they chose to do is similar to what a lot of engineering students have been doing, they dropped out of school and became filmmakers, comedians, or writers. It’s the same with the case of many sports players in China. When they can finally retire after reaching the peak of their career, they start to settle down and never mention anything about sports anymore.


However, Reginald has his reasons to choose such a cruel method to raise his kids. He got his butler, a chimpanzee who can talk, to be with the children and teach them things. Moreover, he even made a robot to be their mother.

For the first 7 episodes, there wasn’t any villain character. The conflicts often come from inside as a result of suffocating confrontation. The seven children are sent to do individual missions in pairs, and they only reunite after a couple of episodes.

The show based on the book written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Ba but Steve Blackman made some changes for Netflix’s version. A few bizarre ideas in the book were not conveyed in the show. For example, the Umbrella fought against a living Eiffel Tower in the comic book, but in the TV show, this scene was replaced by a bank robbery

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The producers of the show seemed to hesitate to fully show the weirdness of the original book. Instead, they have remarkable production values and extremely expensive soundtracks with the features of artists like Radiohead, Mary J Blige who appears with a small role in the TV show, and Queen. And, to the surprise of many, they didn’t invite My Chemical Romance.

It seemed to me that when Gerard Way wrote the book, he was afraid that MCR might disband shortly, so his characters are like used-to-be rockstars who are living in the memories of the past glory.

However, the core story of the book and the show isn’t changed much. The show focused on family connections more than eccentric thrills. It’s telling us that we’re all facing one apocalypse, death, and it’s definitely better to face it with our friends.

>>> Also check: The Boys Season 1 Recap, Review & Free Download Full Series


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