Why Ellen Page Had to Be Vanya in ‘The Umbrella Academy’

The Umbrella Academy, if for some reason you have yet to acquaint yourself with the show, is a Netflix original featuring seven superhero siblings on a mission to prevent an imminent apocalypse.

Though united as children, after the same billionaire industrialist adopts them all, the seven brothers and sisters comprise a disbanded family. They are reunified (albeit not too successfully) when their father dies.

Ellen Page
Ellen Page | Getty Images

Spontaneously thrown into battle against a mysterious corporation and pre-determined destinies, they bicker about their perilous childhoods while attempting to save humankind. Funny, heartfelt, and sincere, The Umbrella Academy boasts an impressive ensemble cast; however, one cast member, in particular, steals the spotlight: Ellen Page.


Ellen Page plays Vanya Hargreeves, AKA “The White Violin,” and is the only sibling that has no special gifts…or so we think. The show paints Vanya as the “outcast:” the one who didn’t get to go on rescue missions as a child, for she simply was born “ordinary,” according to her father, Sir Reginald Hargreeves.

What are Vanya’s powers?

By the show’s season finale, Vanya is wielding her violin as a weapon; manipulating the energy around her through sound waves, she sends victims flying through the air with ease.

Vanya’s powers are controlled by her emotions; thus, the angrier she gets, the more power she conjures. Converting sound into energy, she’s able to manipulate the basic elements of air and water.

Seemingly overnight, the damsel in distress becomes the crossed catalyst for the apocalypse. For years, Vanya was on medication to soothe her “nerves;” however, she finds out that her father was sedating her powers, as he could not keep her abilities within a safe confine; he even resorts to keeping her in a jail-like cell throughout her preschool years.

Ellen Page boasts too much star power to pla second fiddle

Page – who will forever be known as the pregnant teen herself in Juno – is also widely recognized for portraying Kitty Pryde in X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Days of Future Past. The young actress has some solid experience when it comes to playing an extraordinary character fraught with internal conflict.

In addition to X-Men, Ellen Page gained critical acclaim when she starred as Stacie Andree alongside Julianne Moore in Freeheld; she played the domestic partner to an NJ detective diagnosed with cancer.

Given her vast experience, she was perfect for The Umbrella Academy, and an ideal choice for a character with suppressed childhood demons. There was only one problem: she was chosen to play the powerless member.

Given that Page has starred in several major box-office hits, and was the face of this show during its promotional phase, it was apparent that she wouldn’t remain powerless. The character would not be essential enough to the story that way.

They had to save the reveal for the end

Viewers had to understand Page’s turmoil before they would accept her turn to the dark side (pardon the Star Wars cliche). Throughout the earlier episodes, it becomes clear that, while growing up, Vanya struggled to find her place in the family dynamic, and was disregarded as being “not like us” by several of her siblings.

Thus, when her pent-up anger gets the best of her and she proceeds to attack her sister Allison, it seems realistic. The scene doesn’t feel hurried. Vanya’s growth was a slow brew that boiled over at the season’s close.

The inevitable finish

The ending was validating: surprising, yet inevitable. Ellen Page had to be the strongest of them all; otherwise, her casting decision would have felt off-the-mark.

Page already retains a superhero-based following (from the X-Men series), and she is one of the most well-versed actors in the show. Her career, coupled with her characters’ superior powers and childhood trauma, cements the likelihood that Vanya will retain the most dynamic narrative in upcoming seasons. Thus, she will also play profoundly into how the story unfolds, which would have been unlikely had she remained ordinary.

Ellen Page’s acting chops and character trajectory were briefly put on display at the end, functioning as a teaser of sorts, to keep fans anticipating season two.