We are so excited that the Umbrella Academy – the comic created by writer Gerard Way and artist Gabriel Ba – is making the leap from comics to a Netflix live-action series. And the more we learn about it, the more we believe that excitement is well placed. The series is due to be 10 episodes and is currently in production under the auspices of showrunner/EP Steve Blackman (Fargo, Altered Carbon) and does not yet have an official launch date. But, regardless, from big casting news to the Instagram tidbits from comics artists, there’s a lot under this umbrella.
But, first things first:
WHAT IS UMBRELLA ACADEMY?
Umbrella Academy is a bit of superheroics, a bit of sci-fi, a heap of delightfully weird, and a healthy dose of sibling dysfunction. It concerns an alien benefactor posing as an Earth-man called Sir Reginald Hargreeves (also known as ‘The Monocle’), who adopts seven unusual children whom he believes will one day be needed to save the world. The story begins after their adventurous childhoods have come to an end and the siblings have largely separated – only to be brought back together for the funeral of their adopted father.
WHO ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS AND NOTEWORTHY CAST?
Luther/Spaceboy: As a child, he exhibited super strength. These days, his head resides atop of a gorilla body (a “martian gorilla” body, to be exact). He lives on the moon. Luther is portrayed in the Netflix series by Tom Hopper (Black Sails, Merlin).
Diego/The Kraken: With the ability to hold his breath forever and a deft penchant for wielding and throwing knives, the eye-patched Diego is a pinch of Wolverine, a pinch of Aquaman, maybe a pinch of Raphael (of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, naturally), and the most full of attitude of the Academy siblings. He’s being played by David Castañeda (Jane the Virgin, End of Watch).
Allison/The Rumor. Perhaps the coolest, most inventive power in comics, The Rumor can literally shape reality through spreading lies. She is portrayed by Emmy Raver-Lampman (lots of theater work, including the touring company for Hamilton).
Klaus/The Séance: With spooky powers such as levitating and contacting the dead, the aptly named Séance is a quirky fellow whose powers only work when he’s not wearing shoes. He’s being played by Robert Sheehan (Misfits, Love/hate, Cherrybomb).
Number Five/The Boy: Perhaps one of his abilities is to not have a proper name – but The Boy’s real power is time travel – a side effect of which is he does not age.
Aidan Gallagher (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn) fills this role.
Ben/The Horror: Dead at the time the story begins, The Horror could invoke Cthulu-like monstrous traits. It does not look like this character will factor much into the series’ current timeline, but is played in flashback in one episode (per IMDB) by Ethan Hwang.
Vanya: To say too much about Vanya would amount to spoilers, but, as she’s portrayed by the rather accomplished and well-known Ellen Page (Juno, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Whip It, so much more), you know that Vanya is a very important part of the story. In brief, she exhibited no unusual traits as her siblings did when they were young… but that was due to the machinations of their adopted father. The mystery of why is part of the story the show will unravel.
Sir Reginald Hargreeves, the clan’s patriarch, is played by Colm Feore (Thor, The Chronicles of Riddick). Other exciting cast members include Mary J. Blige as uber-assassin Cha-Cha, and, most recently announced, Kate Walsh (13 Reasons Why, Private Practice) as “The Handler.”
TIDBITS FROM THE ROAD
One of the fun things about having a comics artist on hand when his series is getting adapted is we get neat visual updates – travelogues, if you will. Gabriel Ba and his twin brother, who is also a very accomplished comics artist, Fabio Moon, have been posting occasional images from the road giving us charming looks into what’s happening. Here’s Moon’s look at a cast table reading in January:
Moon’s view of the filming of the second episode, about to commence:
Here’s a photo of Way and Ba kicking off the production that will see their brainchild as a new live-action Netflix series:
As we said above, we are pumped for this show – Netflix adaptations of many comics properties have been on point, and this one is looking no less promising. When there’s more to know, we’ll let you know!
Images: Dark Horse Comics, Netflix, Fabio Moon, Fox Searchlight Pictures, HBO, IMDb, E4, The CW, Nickelodeon