‘The Umbrella Academy’ Creator Talks Characters’ Origins, Calls Klaus ‘My Version of Doctor Strange’

The Umbrella Academy makes its long-awaited return to Netflix on July 31, continuing the saga of the Hargreeves clan. The siblings will have to navigate an entirely new timeline in season 2 which will continue to test their bonds and powers. But how did we get here?

It’s a new adventure for the superheroes that all began with a teenager’s imagination and a high-grade set of markers. Here’s a look at who and what inspired The Umbrella Academy.

'The Umbrella Academy' Season 2
‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 2 | Courtesy of Netflix

‘The Umbrella Academy’ is based on a comic by band frontman

Diehard fans may already be aware that not only is The Umbrella Academy a comic book adaptation, but My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way is the author. There are three volumes in the series, and Way said he started writing the stories when he was 15.

During an appearance on the podcast, Behind the Scenes: The Umbrella Academy, Way shared that he stopped writing in his youth but picked it back up after the band traveled to Japan.

“One of the fans gave me a little marker set, and it was Copic markers. They were like the greatest markers I’ve ever used before, and so I started to create Luther.”

Way started writing the comic books again as an adult, drawing from what he knew.

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Way shares the inspiration behind ‘The Umbrella Academy’ heroes

When he was a kid, Way saw the 1953 film Robot Monster which served as an inspiration for Luther’s body. It’s the first character Way fleshed out, using the gorilla form as part of his mold.

His process for coming up with all seven Hargreeves superheroes included creating a list of words and qualities that came to mind for the story. After Luther emerged in his mind, Klaus and Allison sprung to life on paper.

“Klaus. He has some pretty serious addiction issues and addiction is something that I dealt with in my life. He’s also a little bit spooky and supernatural, and my persona in My Chemical Romance is very similar to that. He was like, kind of my version of like Doctor Strange.”

Way revealed that Allison was the easiest to write and added “I put the most of myself into Allison.”

With Diego, Way knew that he’d be the one in the family to clash with Luther, the leader of the group. Number Five was simply a time traveler trapped in a kid’s body, but for Ben, the idea of a “tortured soul” lurked beneath his human/monster veneer.

So, what of Vanya and her violin? Way said he saw a white violin at a café he dined at in Brooklyn and thought “That would be a cool superhero, and Vanya was always designed to be a character who wasn’t special but was going to transform into that.”

My Chemical Romance also influenced ‘The Umbrella Academy’

Way admitted that his band informed the way he wrote the stories too. He likened the group to a dysfunctional family, similar to what’s seen in The Umbrella Academy.

Way shared it would manifest during road trips while on tour. “You have very strong personalities. This dynamic starts to develop between all the members and you really do kind of become a dysfunctional family — like there’s times I felt like I was the mom.”

What he didn’t know in the beginning was that one day The Umbrella Academy would become a TV show. Stream both seasons of the series on Netflix.

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