The Umbrella Academy is an exception to the rule concerning superhero productions. The superhero space —often resorting to hypermasculinity, crude jokes, and good vs. evil tropes — has grown formulaic with time.
While there are deviations from the norm, there tends to be a resistant savior, a bad*ass female fighter, an emotionally available supporter, etc. Yet, every hero seems extraordinarily competent — emotionally, physically, and spiritually capable of saving humanity. Such is not the case in The Umbrella Academy.
The Umbrella Academy flips the genre on its head — presenting a motley crew of dysfunctional siblings trying to solve their persona conflicts while preventing doomsday. The question is: can they stop bickering long enough to catch the criminal masterminds before they escape?
‘The Umbrella Academy’ siblings who are different, but not exceptional
While several characters in The Umbrella Academy augment the show’s unorthodox nature, two seem as if they’ve been chosen to separate the show from the pack. All the characters are quite three-dimensional, yet when stripped to their bare-bone narrative purposes, some are less “different” then they seem at first glance.
Diego is a bit predictable — brooding and hot-headed. Allison can protect herself, is a bit selfless, and compassionate (often the case with female heroes). Vanya is broken, and she just needs someone to love and to love her (Batman?). Luther is the showman — the hero who aims to take charge yet fails at doing such. And, unfortunately, Ben just isn’t around enough to win the uniqueness award, which leaves two: Klaus and Number Five.
What makes Klaus so special in ‘The Umbrella Academy?’
Klaus is human in both the positive and negative sense of the word — he is self-serving and hedonistic, yet compassionate and loving. He refuses altruism and owns his self-preservation tendencies, yet makes the right decisions when push comes to shove.
He is reluctant to put the world before himself — choosing to save a past lover over keeping the space-time continuum in balance. Yet, he is not simply a reluctant hero, for he is still struggling to understand what it is he’s refusing.
What is Klaus searching for in life? Is he reluctant to save, reluctant to live outside ordinary shackles? Reluctant to listen to his head over his heart? He isn’t simply reluctant to heroism, for that takes a larger understanding of what the word and such responsibility entail — full comprehension of one’s purpose and value. And, Klaus is still searching for such.
What in this world is he fighting against and for? Often himself, but sometimes his family. He takes one moment at a time, making decisions willy-nilly, and breaking from the superhero mold set out for male saviors. Not to mention, his sexual openness, unpredictability, morally gray outlook, and socially explorative tendencies are far from the norm concerning male protagonists.
Why Five is ‘The Umbrella Academy’s’ greatest treasure
Those behind The Umbrella Academy hit the jackpot when they cast Aidan Gallagher as Number Five. The actor completely embodies an elderly man stuck in an adolescent’s body — from the stature to the gestures and the gait, viewers believe Five is nearly 60 years old.
In what superhero movie do fans receive a coffee-addicted, violently-inclined adolescent saving the world via any means necessary? In what superhero movie is the one who brings the heroes together psychologically unstable and accustomed to apocalyptic isolation (and a mannequin for a loving companion)? The Umbrella Academy dished aside standards — drawing on Gerard Way’s comic book creation to deliver a story and character depictions that reveal the humanity — in all its twisted glory — beneath the hero.