Review: ‘The Umbrella Academy’ proves to be refreshing superhero tale

Show: “The Umbrella Academy”

Release Date: Feb. 15, 2019

Rating: B+

With over 700 pieces of original Netflix content flooding into the streaming service last year, creating a show that stands against the tide has proven difficult. How can a show prove interesting enough to rise above the rest of the content provided?

“The Umbrella Academy” has the answer.

Based on the 2007 comic series written by Gerard Way, former lead singer of My Chemical Romance, Netflix adapted the show alongside a notable cast, including Ellen Page, Robert Sheehan and Mary J. Blige.

The gritty story begins with the mysterious birth of 43 children worldwide, resulting in billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves' global search to adopt them as part of a mission to save the world. After adopting seven of them, he forms the Umbrella Academy, where the children are trained to fight crime with their extraordinary abilities.

Separated for more than 10 years, the family reunites at the sudden death of Hargreeves, the man they considered a father for most of their lives. This opens up a new realm of mysteries that the disbanded family is forced to come together to solve.

While being in the midst of so many Netflix originals, another obstacle the show had to face was overcoming the superhero stereotype. Marvel, basically the sovereign of superhero-based entertainment, already has six different shows on the streaming platform, instantly creating competition. 

“The Umbrella Academy” overcomes this obstacle with creator of the show Jeremy Slater's Christopher-Nolan-meets-Tim-Burton take on storytelling. The grungy aspect of the tale makes the story feel more tangible. It can easily be set apart from the clichés of the Marvel universe.

Although the story is complex enough to keep viewers from glancing down at their phones, the characters were hard to get attached to. With such a large cast of characters from the start, it is difficult to remember everyone’s names, but with a story that is meant to be rough around the edges, the characters might be too unyielding to sympathize with. However, the plot seems to be enticing enough to make up for the lack of connection between the viewers and the characters. 

Ultimately, it's hard to lose interest in a story that provides such a dimensional plot.

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