‘The Umbrella Academy’ Co-Creator Wrote an Early Version of This Rare Marvel Flop
Superhero shows are popping up everywhere these days. But Netflix subscribers agree, The Umbrella Academy is a bit different than most. The show — based on the Dark Horse Comics title of the same name — has earned strong reviews and impressive viewership since its debut in February 2019.
But Jeremy Slater — who developed the series and wrote the pilot episode — doesn’t have a spotless track record when it comes to superhero storytelling. In fact, Slater was involved with a Marvel Comics movie a few years ago that failed to please much of anyone. Here are the details on that project and what he has coming up next.
‘The Umbrella Academy’ is returning for season 2 on Netflix
Before we get to Slater’s superhero movie history, let’s turn our attention to his most recent project. The Umbrella Academy follows a dysfunctional superhero family who bands together to solve a mystery. The cast includes Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page (Juno), Emmy nominee Cameron Britton (Mindhunter), and Grammy-winning singer Mary J. Blige.
So the hype train started long before the series actually premiered. Once it did, The Umbrella Academy became one of Netflix’s breakout smash hits. So just two months after season 1 debuted, the show was renewed for a second season. The streaming service releases the next batch of episodes in July 2020. And fans are anxiously awaiting to see what will happen next.
Incidentally, The Umbrella Academy isn’t Slater’s first time working with a super-powered family. Years before he landed the gig on the show, he worked with director Josh Trank on the ill-fated 2015 Fantastic Four reboot. That experience didn’t go the way anyone wanted it to. But at least Slater was able to move on to a more positive experience in the comic book world.
Co-creator Jeremy Slater also worked on 2015’s ‘Fantastic Four’
Ahead of its release, Fantastic Four seemed like a slam-dunk. Trank had previously directed the popular found-footage superhero movie Chronicle, which also starred Michael B. Jordan. And the darker tone felt more in line with modern superhero movies. Alas, Fantastic Four wound up with a 9 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a $56 million domestic box office.
Since then, many industry pundits have investigated just what went wrong. But in an interview with Polygon, Slater largely chalks the disastrous result up to a poor fit between filmmaker and material. While the writer — who left the project after a few months — was a fan of the material, Trank showed little interest in making a comic book movie.
“The first Avengers movie had recently come out, and I kept saying, ‘That should be our template, that’s what audiences want to see! And Josh just f**king hated every second of it.'” Slater told Polygon. “It didn’t matter if they were fighting robots in Latveria or aliens in the Negative Zone or Mole Monsters in downtown Manhattan; Josh just did not give a sh*t.”
But Slater will join the MCU as the ‘Moon Knight’ showrunner
In the end, Fantastic Four seemed doomed from the start. But Slater — who retained a writing credit on the film — bounced back in a big way. In 2016, he adapted The Exorcist into a Fox series which ran for two seasons. And thanks to The Umbrella Academy, Slater was able to land his own comic book project.
Marvel Studios tapped the writer-producer to serve as showrunner on its upcoming Moon Knight Disney+ series. The show does not yet have an anticipated release date, but the character — who has drawn comparisons to DC’s Batman — has been in Marvel’s long-term plans for a while. Moreover, the supernatural elements of his world should prove a great fit for Slater.