SAVING THE WORLD
‘The Umbrella Academy’: Netflix’s Weird and Wacky New Superhero Extravaganza
Based on a Dark Horse Comics series by My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way, the 10-episode show focuses on a group of gifted youngsters trying to stave off the apocalypse.
Netflix has asked critics not to reveal any spoilers about The Umbrella Academy, but unfortunately for the streaming service, it’s already dreadfully easy to see the show’s every twist coming episodes in advance. That’s a problem the size of gargantuan astronaut Luther (Tom Hopper), the leader of the Umbrella Academy, a school for gifted youngsters run by Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore). An eccentric billionaire father figure in a dapper suit and monocle, Hargreeves adopted, in the late 1980s, a diverse group of kids who possess extraordinary powers—well, all do with the exception of Vanya (Ellen Page), a violinist whose ordinary nature makes her the black sheep of the clan. Not that her outcast status matters much, since most of the members of the Umbrella Academy can’t stand each other’s company.
Regardless of how much they dislike being together, these weirdo superheroes are by and large a likeable enough bunch, which partially offsets the fact that their saga feels like it’s been crafted from strands of superior works’ DNA.
Adapted by Steve Blackman from the Dark Horse Comics series created by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, The Umbrella Academy is like a hybrid of Marvel’s X-Men, Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House, Dark, Doom Patrol (soon to be its own DC Universe web show) and The Incredibles, marked by a combination of uncanny conflict and familial bickering, and scored to a cheeky collection of classic rock and pop hits. There’s time travel, romance, past traumas and sibling squabbling galore throughout its initial 10-episode run (premiering Feb. 8). Yet for all its personality and panache, it’s hard not to feel like the core demographic it’s courting—comic book, superhero, and fantasy fans—will be the ones most apt to view it as reheated leftovers.