Netflix Synopsis: The Umbrella Academy


Aidan Herklotz

Usually I think that Netflix original shows are the complete opposite of what they claim to be: profoundly unoriginal. But, a few weeks ago Netflix released “The Umbrella Academy,” which, for me, is something very rare: an original adaptation. And by the way, I’m going to try to reduce spoilers as much as I can, so you can actually watch the show for yourself.

We will begin with some history of “The Umbrella Academy.” In 2007, one of the members of the popular punk-rock band “My Chemical Romance,” Gabriel Way, decided that it would be a good idea to make a graphic novel series, which he titled the Umbrella Academy. The series is centered around seven people, who are members of a superhero group put together by their adoptive father, who is actually a space-alien (surprisingly this fact doesn’t come up too much). These children also have a backstory: one day in 1989, forty-three children around the world were born to mothers who, prior to giving birth, had not been pregnant. Seven of these children were adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreaves (our previously mentioned space alien) and raised as superheroes.

To be honest, this is probably one of the best and most unique superhero origin stories I’ve seen in a while. Anyway, this is where the show (and comic) gets its title, since the kids’ “super-group” is named the Umbrella Academy. Just in case you were wondering, this is the backstory for both the comic and the show, but this is where everything diverges.

The show centers around the main seven, who all have their own unique superpowers (and no, we don’t know who the other thirty-six are), and I might as well go over them now.

  1. Luther: His powers are never really explained in the show, but we can see that he has some sort of super-strength and jumping abilities. He’s the leader of the Umbrella Academy, and his father’s favorite. He’s sent to the moon, after a tragic accident involving nuclear waste and a monkey serum (watch the show to see that reveal, it’s crazy).
  2. Diego: He has the ability to curve any object he throws, but he mostly throws knives. He’s the self-proclaimed “bad-boy” of the Umbrella Academy, and after the group splits up he starts working as a vigilante batman type, wiping the scum off of the streets.
  3. Allison: She has the ability to convince anyone to do anything. She does this by saying “I heard a rumor,” and then saying what she wants them to do. She becomes a movie star after the group splits up, and her and Luther always had a “thing” for each other.
  4. Klaus: He has the ability to see the dead, so he’s obviously the emo one. Ever since he discovered his ability as a child, Klaus has done hard drugs, due to being traumatized and terrified by what he sees. It’s always implied that just seeing the dead is not the extent of his powers, and that he hasn’t reached his full potential (because of the aforementioned drug problem).
  5. Number 5 (that’s literally what he’s called): 5 has the ability to teleport, but not too far; in other words, he can teleport around rooms, but not across countries. Years before the show begins, Number 5 goes missing, but we don’t find out until later that he actually used his abilities to travel forward in time, and that he’s spent over fifty years in the ruins of the old world, following the apocalypse. He’s now trapped in his fifteen year old body (space-time continuum, don’t ask), desperate to stop the apocalypse that begins in eight days.
  6. Ben: This is surely the member that we know the least about, since he’s actually dead by the time the show begins. He has the power to release eldritch monster-demons from his body. We don’t know exactly how he died, but for some reason everyone blames Luther for it. My theory is that he was killed on a mission by one of his monsters, but we’re still not sure. He’s also in constant contact with his brother Klaus, who can speak to the dead.
  7. Vanya: Vanya is different from the rest of the group, since she has no discernible powers. When the show starts, she has written an autobiography about her life as a member of the Umbrella Academy — who really wasn’t a member of the Umbrella Academy because of her lack of powers. She basically exposed all of the secrets of the group, and everyone in her family basically hates her for it. She goes through a ton of development in the show, and is greatly played by Ellen Page. She can also play a mean violin.

The show starts following Reginald Hargreaves death. This brings the entire now adult group together again (they basically broke up after Ben dies) to grieve at his funeral. This kicks off a lot of conflict, especially when Number 5 jumps out of a temporal anomaly vortex thingy in the backyard. We learn that he’s back to stop the apocalypse and that he’s technically in his 50’s (again, space-time continuum). This is basically when the entire story starts. But, since I’m trying to encourage you to watch the show, go do it! This is probably the best Netflix original since Stranger Things, and I 100% recommend it.