By: Gene Cole, Opinions Editor
Best for: Superhero fans, dysfunctional family fans, time travellers
Umbrella Academy is like superhero fanfiction with the polish of a Disney-Marvel film. Complete with time travel, family drama, romance, mystery, and a CGI talking monkey who acts as a father figure, it may seem like it’s trying to do a lot of things at once. But through clever writing and a compatible cast, Umbrella Academy handles them all brilliantly. It takes after serious superhero shows like Marvel’s Daredevil and Runaways, but with a sense of humour and self-awareness like that of Arrested Development but more serious.
The show is about seven children with superpowers, all adopted by an adventurous billionaire father and all — except for Ellen Page’s character Vanya — trained to be superheroes. The story takes place around 10–15 years after they’ve moved out, reunited by their father’s passing and the return of their sibling who went missing as a child. From there, the siblings have to work together to save the world from an oncoming apocalypse, and come to terms with their terrible childhoods.
Despite its seemingly-complex plot and large list of characters, it ends up being surprisingly easy to follow thanks to its focus on dialogue and character chemistry, rather than the rules of its science fiction. The show dives into serious themes of parental abuse and self-esteem, but the siblings don’t hesitate to talk casually. They poke fun at each other and make the dialogue constantly fun and snappy. More than that, it uses its superhero setting to tell a story about a family learning to understand and relate to each other better.
If you want a little more fun and family in your serious superhero drama, Umbrella Academy is absolutely worth digging into.
Available on: Netflix