Superheroes in film and television have always been something of a marvel (pun intended?). When people want to escape they watch characters with enhanced abilities use brains and brawn to take down bad guys. In a slight turn of events, Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy shines a light on the vulnerable side of superheroes. Showing that underneath the masks they are human just like us.
In preparation for the second season coming out today, July 31, let’s take a deep dive into what makes this show unique and why you should watch it.
In 2007 comic book readers were introduced to the Hargreeves siblings thanks to the creator of The Umbrella Academy, Gerard Way, and illustrator Gabriel Bá. There are three The Umbrella Academy miniseries, The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, The Umbrella Academy: Dallas, and The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion and they are incredibly popular. Apocalypse Suite even won an Eisner Award for Best Finite Series/Limited Series in 2008.
In 2019 the Hargreeves siblings once again rose to the public consciousness by way of Netflix. Here’s the gist: in 1989, 43 babies are born to random women who showed no previous signs of pregnancy. Seven of those 43 babies are then adopted by billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves who creates the Umbrella Academy and trains his adopted children to save the world. After fighting crime as kids, the group falls apart and each of the siblings loses touch with each other until they are reunited as adults because of their father’s passing.
When I first started watching the series I wasn’t sure what to expect. A show centered around superheroes is intriguing enough but, after the first episode, I realized the show was about much more than fighting crime. At its core, The Umbrella Academy is about a broken family who can’t even be in the same house as each other because of the memories conjured and who grew up to be incredibly dysfunctional due to the trauma from their childhood.
Broken but Lovable Characters
There’s Number One, Luther Hargreeves (Tom Hopper) who is the leader of the Umbrella Academy. He possesses superhuman strength and later in life took on ape-like physiology due to a serum his father gave him to save his life. Number Two, Diego Hargreeves can manipulate thrown objects, but often sticks to knives. Next, there’s Number Three, Allison Hargreeves who only has to utter the words, “I heard a rumor,” to get people to do what she wants. Number Four, Klaus Hargreeves can communicate with the dead.
Then there’s Number Five, who goes by Number Five and has the ability to time travel. Number Six, Ben Hargreeves has the ability to summon eldritch creatures through a portal to another dimension located in his body. Lastly, Number Seven, Vanya Hargreeves (Ellen Page) has the ability to harness sound and convert it into energy, but she doesn’t learn this until later on in life. All of their different abilities influence their behavior as well and these differences often clash.
The first episode introduces us to each major character through a series of flashbacks and current events. We learn that Klaus is a drug addict, Diego continues to fight crime as a vigilante, Allison is a famous actress who is recently divorced and can’t see her daughter, Luther has spent numerous years on the moon but is the only one who stayed loyal to their father, Five has been missing for 17 years, Ben is dead, and Vanya has written a bestselling book about her life that further isolates her from her siblings.
When everyone comes together because of their father’s passing you see a glimpse into their sibling dynamic and start to understand why the Umbrella Academy had to disband. Much to the Hargreeves chagrin, everyone has to once again fight crime when Number Five jumps out of a portal and later informs them that only they can stop the apocalypse. With this announcement, chaos ensues, and each character has to confront the demons within their own lives before they can save the world.
Over the course of eight episodes, we learn that Sir Reginald Hargreeves was not winning any “Father of the Year” awards. Although he named each child, he referred to each of them by number, he forced Klaus to sit in a mausoleum for hours to tap into his powers as a kid, and he sidelined Vanya continuously as a child and she grew up to feel excluded from her family.
You also learn that outside of nurturing the kids’ powers he was very hands-off and left the parenting to a robot that everyone calls Mom and an ape butler named Pogo. Reginald’s coldness only made it harder for the Hargreeves children to be vulnerable and this propels them to have issues later in life.
There are also major side plots. Assassins named Hazel and Cha-Cha who are on the hunt for Number Five, kidnap Klaus and kill Diego’s ex-lover. There’s Leonard Peabody who Vanya quickly falls for, but who is unfortunately only dating her to get close to the family and kill them all.
Luther deals with his own personal turmoil after realizing his dad sent him to the moon for no reason, Klaus accidentally goes back in time and falls in love with a soldier during the Vietnam war who he watches die, Number Five has to evade The Commission, and all of this comes to a head when Vanya unleashes her full power during a violin recital and jump-starts the end of the world.
Based on the trailer for the second season, I’m not sure what to expect. It seems as though the Hargreeves have traveled back in time all the way to the 1960s and, of course, because of their amazing luck, have disrupted the timeline. No matter what happens, I can’t wait to watch this zany group find each other and save the world a second time.
There truly is no story that goes unexplored in season 1 and best of all The Umbrella Academy shows that saving the world comes second to forgiving your family.
What are you waiting for? Watch Umbrella Academy seasons 1-2 on Netflix today!
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