What happens when you take Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters from X-Men, DC’s Doom Patrol, a bit of Watchmen and sprinkle in a little goofiness and off-the-wall comedy? You get the Netflix adaptation of The Umbrella Academy, the 2007 graphic novel series created and written by My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way.
The show picks up after 43 unexplainable, random births occur around the world, and a billionaire industrialist adopts seven of them and trains them to become heroes. Unfortunately, the team fractures and only after hearing about their father’s death do they reunite in hopes to solve it. With no previous knowledge of the graphic novel and only going off the teaser trailer, compelling characters and some thrilling action was expected. Thankfully, this show delivers it all in spades.
It was surprising how easy it was to go along with the wacky nature of the show. There are some ridiculous concepts throughout the series that are played straight: time travel, talking to the dead and a monkey assistant are just to name a few. All these things are taken with complete seriousness, just allowing for it all to feel so much more grounded. But what does it matter if the characters aren’t believable enough? Luckily, this is the standout factor for this show.
The cast all give incredible performances, which of course gives credit and believability to the characters. Some personal favorites include Tom Hopper’s Luther, Robert Sheehan’s Klaus and Ellen Page’s Vanya—all wonderfully acted and range from the over-the-top to subtly brilliant and throughout every episode, emotions run rampant within this split family. Some characters don’t get to shine as much as the main cast, but it is understandable from a story point of view.
While The Umbrella Academy offers engaging action scenes, it unfortunately feels bogged down by a constant use of slow motion. There are about three or four slow motion moments in a singular fight scene that sucks the action out of it when you would much rather see the action in full. Aside from action scenes, pacing seems to be an issue that comes up a few times. There are multiple stretches of time that don’t seem to be moving the plot forward that, while nice, could be putting the show’s time to better use.
Overall, this show is worth watching for anyone who wants to dive into superheroes that aren’t published by the big two franchises. This Dark Horse-inspired show delivers on almost every front a viewer could want: engaging and emotional characters, outlandish and absurd storylines that feel oh so satisfying to watch and a new, interesting world to explore. This is a property that Netflix needs to hold on to because it has a very promising future ahead of it. With two more volumes of story to adapt and even short stories at the ready, this show is about as super as it gets.