Still in the boom of superhero films, Netflix will launch on February 15 a new series of the genre, The Umbrella Academy, based on the comics written by the American musician Gerard Way, from the band My Chemical Romance, and with illustrations by the Brazilian Gabriel Bá. In the story, a family of siblings with super powers gathers after the death of the adoptive father.
In fact, the starting point of the story is in 1989, when, strangely, 43 children are born simultaneously in different parts of the world, children of women who, until the previous day, were not pregnant. Knowing that children have super powers, a very wealthy man adopts seven of them and begins to train them to fight crime. Already grown up, each brother follows his own path and only reunites with his father’s death.
During the Comic Con Experience, in São Paulo, in December, The Umbrella Academy was presented to the Brazilian public for the first time. In addition to Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, who also serve as executive producers on the series, actors Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman, David Castaneda and Ellen Page were in the country to talk about the production.
In an interview, the actors stated that, despite the supernatural origin, which must be explained during the series The Umbrella Academy, the production differential is that it speaks of heroes with very human problems. “They were very repressed in childhood and I think a lot of their journey is about how it manifested in their adult lives and how they deal with it now”, analyzes Ellen Page, who lives in the series the character Vanya, the only one of the seven adopted that did not manifest a special power.
As they trained to fight crime, the seven went through a traumatic and abusive childhood. They were forced by their father to work as heroes and with very questionable training methods. They were often pitted against each other to exercise competitiveness. According to actress Emmy Raver-Lampman, her character, Allison, only realizes the trauma when she becomes a mother. “She starts to think, ‘I would never do that to my daughter’.”
Of all, Page’s character is the most traumatized. “As a child, she wanted to be a part of this and she was isolated by the family. Obviously it is an abusive childhood and I need not say that she had several problems because of that ”, she believes. “Imagine hearing your whole life that is not special, when all your brothers are famous for it.”
As they grew up, they all distanced themselves, which ended up causing another problem in their adult lives: none of them can fit in the real world. “They all go through this. They spent 17 years trying to connect with people without powers, in a normal life, but they can’t adapt to the real world ”, says Hopper, who lives the family’s number one son, Luther, a kind of leader among the brothers.
For Gerard Way, however, the father of heroes is not exactly a villain. “I know he is abusive, he made his children go through difficult times, but I never saw him as a villain, but someone who was doing something for a greater good, but who, unfortunately, caused harm to the children”, he believes. “And we find out about him as the story progresses, we understand why he made his decisions.”
In Way’s opinion, it is these discussions that humanize the characters in The Umbrella Academy. “It was something we were able to explore deeply, the notions of right and wrong, the fact that not everything is black or white, having a large gray area in the middle”, he analyzes. “People are not totally good or totally bad.”
For both the musician and Gabriel Bá, working as executive producers on The Umbrella Academy series was an unprecedented challenge in their lives. “It is strange to see your creation going through so many stages along the way. From Gerard’s writing, to my drawings, and now scripts, costumes, set decoration, filming, ”says Bá.
Despite writing just for comics, Gerard Way is happy with the adaptation of The Umbrella Academy for TV. Initially, the duo tried to sell the project to the studios as a film. Since then, it was about 10 years before a meeting with Netflix came up, which liked the idea and accelerated the production process of the series.
For the series format, some changes were made to the story. For Way, the best of all was the choice of a diverse cast to live the characters. “It was a great change, it became more realistic,” says the musician. “The characters got deeper.”
For him, what matters most in comics is representativeness. “As a teenager, I was very alone, so comics were very important to me,” reveals Way, who says he started thinking about writing stories as a kind of retribution for new generations. “I think most of our audience is people who look for comics to feel better about life,” says the author, who says he receives “tons” of messages from fans sharing his stories.
2019 will be marked by the return of very popular series, in addition to new productions