December 11-12, 2021
Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy will see Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s comic book series adaption explode onto our screens on February 15.
But why does the world of The Umbrella Academy belong on the small screen? And why are more superhero comic book series being adapted for television?
Comic book adaptations began with the 1941 film Adventures of Captain Marvel and from there, the superhero genre has delivered staple superhero teams such The Avengers, The X-Men and Justice League to cinemas and almost all forms of media.
Cartoon comic book inspired shows have always been popular, however, with the introduction of streaming services such as Netflix and DC Universe, more and more comic adaptations are ending up on the small screen.
Here are some reasons as to why superhero live-action adaptations are making the move.
Whilst The Umbrella Academy is a lesser known superhero team than Marvel’s The Defenders and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the 2008 comic definitely features an iconic world that has a focus on the acceptance of the extraordinary. This is something that spans across the comic series along with unsettlingly defining elements, such as the Eiffel Tower being a spaceship and 43 births occurring on the same day from mothers who didn’t know they were pregnant. The world of the series is so colourful and wacky it needs a bit of explaining and therefore Netflix’s television platform will provide time for the audience to become acquainted with the ins and outs of the world.
Strong characters are the driving force of any superhero franchise and The Umbrella Academy is no exception. With a team of six heroes, each with unique powers and vastly different personalities, a film wouldn’t provide nearly enough time to explore everything. For a show such as The Umbrella Academy, viewers may begin watching it without prior knowledge of the characters. This is a harder feat than a studio creating another instalment in popular superhero franchises because the new characters aren’t as well-known as Superman or Batman, and therefore the audience doesn’t know the ins and outs of their personalities. A television show is the perfect platform for a new group of characters to be explored as it provides time for relationships to be built between characters and for the audience to build a connection with the ensemble.
Television provides the perfect opportunity to focus on superhero comic book franchises with less recognition. The production of The Umbrella Academy and DC’s Doom Patrol (2019) are examples of smaller comic stories joining the television ranks, and this trend will likely continue. Netflix recently made a deal with writer Mark Millar, known for writing the comic series Kick-Ass (2008), to turn his comics into films and television shows. The Umbrella Academy also has a pre-existing fan base, regardless of size, so Netflix is safe to create the television show and have an audience before they begin promotion, much like Mark Millar’s work.
Gerard Way was heavily involved in the television project, which speaks volumes about the authentic nature of the show, regarding its derivation from the comic series. Involving the author of a comic book ensures fans will be receiving the best version of the story. If elements change, it will still be within the confines of the world created by the author. If there are elements that aren’t explored in the comic books that the fans desperately want to know with the writer’s backing, these can be explored in the show.
Detailed art and stories take centre stage in the Umbrella Academy comic books. These details sometimes don’t make it to the final cut as many comic book films must be succinct due to time pressures, and therefore these details are occasionally sacrificed. In a television show, the details of the comic can be enhanced, and time can be given for the story to be fully fleshed out. More time equals more details, and more details equals happy fans.
The television series of The Umbrella Academy focuses on the Apocalypse Suite storyline, one of three storylines Way and Bá have either completed or are currently working on. Comic books sometimes feature smaller comic series existing in the one overarching world and this reflects nicely in the form of a television series. Each instalment of a comic book could be considered as a perfect translation into a television episode, and whilst The Umbrella Academy’s six comic books have been made into ten episodes, this system is an easier move than cramming six comic books into a film. Also, the different storylines create room for several seasons worth of story to be explored which fans and Netflix love.
The Umbrella Academy premieres on Netflix on February 15