In an oversaturated market of comic book adaptations, Marvel and DC are the clear front runners given how many projects are developed and delivered to fans across the globe across the various formats. As soon as any hint of fatigue sets in, an adaptation in the likes of The Umbrella Academy come along and resets the balance of power – not following the same formulaic approach that the big guns possess while making their voice heard when a new series or season comes along. In their now 3rd season, the Dark Horse comic book created by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way and illustrator Gabriel Bà remains to be a force to be reckoned with. There are no hints of the series slowing down or the fatigue setting in.
Picking right up where the season 2 cliffhanger left off, the Umbrellas, number 1 aka Luther (Tom Hopper), number 2 aka Diego (David Castañeda), number 3 aka Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), number 4 aka Klaus (Robert Sheehan), Five (Aidan Gallagher), and number 7 aka Viktor (Elliot Page), are transported into the future where their academy doesn’t exist and their father Sir Reginald (Colm Feore) adopted 7 other children out of the 43 that were mysteriously born on October 1, 1989. This reality knows the seven as the Sparrow Academy.
Setting the tone for season 3 comes within the first 10 minutes after the Sparrow introduction plays out in the same manner as the season 1 introduction to the Umbrellas. Once all pleasantries are out of the way, season 3 takes what we expect a season of this shows caliber and familiarity it encompass and adds a flavor of unpredictability to it – proving this series is nothing like their cousins at Marvel and DC. To avoid spoilers, its easily one of the best sequences the series has done up to this point – replaying in your head like an earworm. Weeks will go by, and the sequence will live in your head rent free. That sequence alone is how to keep things interesting.
With the tone set, the disaster the Umbrellas and the Sparrows must face together, reluctantly, is called a Kugelblitz that’s forming the Sparrow academy basement. Yet another apocalyptic event to save the world from as the main narrative of The Umbrella Academy. For 3 seasons, stopping an apocalypse has been the mission – following the Umbrellas like a black cloud, they can’t seem to shake the impending disaster. Because of this, while the main narrative is beginning to feel repetitive, the sub-plots in season 3 are infinitely more interesting now that we have gotten to know these characters on a deeper level.
Some season 2 sub-plots follow the Umbrellas into season 3 dealing expressly with the traumas experienced in their previous lives. Mostly with Allison and Viktor – all with their father Reginald who is now somewhat transformed version of his alternate self. The once close siblings are now strangers, torn apart by lies and blunt truths. Series creator Steve Blackman has focused on character and development and let the relationships blossom with that necessary foundation.
While the Disney Plus series are struggling to keep their heads above water, The Umbrella Academy puts secondary characters in the spotlight among a large ensemble cast, never once taking away from the shows fundamental strength. What was once 7 main characters from Umbrella, their number 6 aka Ben (Justin H. Min) being dead and only Klaus the one to communicate with, the ensemble list is doubled.
Sparrow academy includes Marcus (Justin Cornwell), Alphonso (Jake Epstein), Jayme (Cazzie David), Ben, Christopher, a futuristic box type creature, Sloane (Genesis Rodriguez), and Fei (Britne Oldford). All with different abilities, I can only imagine the remaining 29 children’s abilities.
Family is the biggest theme for this series, dysfunctional as it, the 6 Umbrellas find a way to put their petty differences aside to save the world. As much as we love watching them bicker and argue about saving the world, their intimate moments speak louder with the chemistry they have built up since 2019. What’s even more engrossing with this family in season 3 is Viktor’s transition – accepting Viktor for who his really is – something Sissy (Marin Ireland) pushed Viktor toward – self-acceptance.
I’m a huge fan of writing real life experiences into the fictional characters the actors bring to life. Earlier this year with Val Kilmer and Top Gun: Maverick and now with Elliot Page. He looks completely comfortable in his skin. And Viktor’s siblings are his biggest cheerleaders when the change happens in episode 2.
Being an Umbrella focused series, as the title suggests and what Gerard Way created, the Sparrows fit in quite nicely with their alternate reality siblings. Teased to be the main antagonists, having the two come together to defeat the larger looming threat is predictable from episode 1. It’s only a matter of time before guards are down and the two academies are brought together by Reginald who has a larger role this season while the fan favorite Pogo is reduced to a cameo appearance. While more of Colm’s presence is welcoming on screen as the strict, reclusive, isolated father, Pogo’s calming presence is greatly missed this season.
Season 3 is the best season the series has done thus far despite the repetitive apocalypse saving the world narrative. From the writing to the performances of the Umbrella’s, the series hasn’t hit its peak yet with an uncertain future on the horizon. Netflix has yet to renew the series which, given the season finale has an interesting premise behind it with all 7 alive in tentative times. Shows like The Boys and The Umbrella Academy are necessary for the over saturated genre that are equally delightful palette cleansers when a Disney Plus series cannot stick the unreachable landing set out. These series should be the blueprint for how a comic book property is adapted to a different format.
Created By: Steve Blackman
Episodes Directed By: Jeremy Webb, Cheryl Dunye, Sylvain White, Jeff F. King, Kate Woods & Paco Cabezas
Music By: Jeff Russo & Perrine Virgile
Cinematography: Craig Wrobleski & Neville Kidd
Starring: Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Colm Feore, Justin H. Min, Ritu Arya, Genesis Rodriguez, Britne Oldford
Where to Watch: Netflix
Release Date: June 22, 2022
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
Based On: The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá