Netflix strikes gold with this adaptation of Gerard Way’s Dark Horse Comics series!
With Walt Disney making a move to take back all its media content to stream on their own platform, Netflix subscribers have seen a decrease in the amount of Marvel films on Netflix and cancellations of all Netflix/Marvel superhero TV series, which has even received backlash from the likes of Eminem.
REGARDING YOUR CANCELLATION OF THE PUNISHER, YOU ARE BLOWING IT!!
— Marshall Mathers (@Eminem) February 21, 2019
However, that hasn’t stopped Netflix from bringing comic book heroes to the small screens. In 2019, the popular streaming platform has already released Polar, Carmen Sandiego and now, The Umbrella Academy. This latest show is based on the Dark Horse Comics, written by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bà. Gerard Way has written multiple comic series in the past few years, including a current run on DC’s Doom Patrol, which also now has a TV series.
The Umbrella Academy focuses around a dysfunctional family of adopted children, who were all born on the same day from immaculate conceptions. Eccentric Billionaire Reginald Hargreaves raises the seven children, training six of them to become a team of child superheroes. The seventh child, named Vanya, appears to have been born without powers and left to grow up watching her brothers and sister get all the limelight and attention. The series starts with the death of Hargreaves and his funeral that brings the family, who seemed to have all gone their separate ways, together for his funeral. The real action begins when their long-lost brother, Number Five, comes back from the future to bring them some grave news about the days to come.
This is definitely a binge-worthy series. The narrative arc focuses on an oncoming apocalypse that the seven will have to face. This isn’t made easy, however, when they all face their own personal issues. Most of the story-lines within the series, explore the state of a group of adults after having lived a life of infamous child super-heroes. Their upbringing, their fame, and their powers have all resulted in the group each facing consequences of these.
The character development is brilliantly done, despite the short length of the series, the number of main characters and having to share the focus on the main narrative arc. The protagonists are far from your average superheroes and the main reason for this is that most of the family’s hero days seem to have either ended long ago or never really started to begin with. The only two that are actively trying to save the world are Number Five, who has been trying to save the world from the apocalypse and Diego, who suits up at night to fight crime. Vanya was never included in the team, Klaus seemed to have always been side-lined, Alison pursued a career in acting and Luther was on a mysterious mission on the moon for years.
There has been no news from Netflix as of yet, on the decision to renew or cancel the show. It would be a great shame to see the show end at such an early stage, especially with the way the finale ended. Although the series has seen a huge amount of support in such a short space of time over social media (37.9k Twitter, 65k Facebook, 178k Instagram), this has never really ensured the continuation of a series. This is because the company has to weigh the cost of production against its number of subscribers and decide if it would be profitable.
Bearing in mind that a series like this will have to spend quite a bit to get quality special effects. Exploring comics outside of the Marvel and DC universe has proven to create incredible results in the past. The likes of Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World and Kick-Ass are proof that there are great comics out there ready to be shown on a film format and it’s fantastic that Netflix is tapping into that. If this series does indeed follow the fate of many other loved Netflix series, hopefully, the streaming platform will take on more alternative super-heroes and franchises.
By Sam Dawson
Images provided by Netflix/Dark Horse Comics