“No pressure at all.”
'Umbrella Academy' Season 3 avoids 'Game of Thrones' biggest mistake
In Season 3, The Umbrella Academy races past its source material. For Game of Thrones, this pivotal moment marked the beginning of a steady decline in quality, but showrunner Steve Blackman isn’t worried.
Umbrella Academy showrunner Steve Blackman faces a familiar dilemma. The Netflix superhero series caught up with the comics that inspired it after Season 2. And so, in Season 3, The Umbrella Academy races past its source material. For Game of Thrones, this pivotal moment marked the beginning of a steady decline in quality, but Blackman isn’t worried.
“No pressure at all,” Blackman tells Inverse when asked if he’s feeling any anxiety about Season 3. “[Umbrella Academy co-creators] Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá have great generosity of spirit. They know the next 10 volumes that they’ll write over a decade. So they always share with me where they think they're going.”
Umbrella Academy tells the story of a dysfunctional superhero team assembled as children by a withholding father figure who may or may not be an evil alien. After escaping the apocalypse by traveling to the past at the end of Season 1 — and then narrowly avoiding another world-ending event in Season 2 — the series picks up in Season 3 as our heroes return to their present only to discover it’s not the world they remember.
It turns out that, after meeting his future-adopted children in the 1960s and not liking them very much, Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) adopted a different group of superheroes instead. The result is the Sparrow Academy, a more successful version of the team that also seems a lot more evil. But while the Sparrows were first introduced in the pages of My Chemical Romance frontrunner Gerard Way’s comic, the Netflix show charges into the unknown as Season 3 fleshes out their characters and powers more fully.
“I'd like not to get too ahead of the comics.”
Blackman sees the relationship between show and comic as symbiotic.
“We've come to an understanding that the graphic novel and the TV show can coexist,” he says. “We inspire each other. Things we do in the show, often they say, Hey that's cool, we'll put that in the graphic novel.”
Blackman hopes to avoid getting too far ahead of the comics, which is difficult when the original author is also busy touring with his world-famous rock band. Still, if the result of this relationship is anything like Season 3, fans can rest easy. Blackman clearly has a good handle on where to take The Umbrella Academy, even without the comics to pull from directly.
“We're very collaborative with them,” Blackman says of Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. “I consider them friends.”
Umbrella Academy Season 3 moves the plot and characters forward in interesting and surprising ways. Watching standby cast members like Elliot Page and Emmy Raver-Lampman grapple with their new realities is fascinating and sometimes heartbreaking. It’s also fun to experience new versions of Justin Min’s Ben (he survived in this reality and now he’s a jerk) and Reginald (seemingly a much nicer guy in this timeline). The Sparrows are entertaining too, though they sometimes feel more like cannon fodder than three-dimensional superheroes.
Season 3 also delivers a reliably apocalyptic plotline, though where the series heads next is less clear. Without spoiling anything, the season finale doesn’t set up a clear next threat. But for a story with no clear path forward, that may be for the best.
“I'd like not to get too ahead of the comics,” Blackman says. “I don't want the show to eventually completely go off to a corner that doesn't match anything they're doing.”
The showrunner says he has some inside information about where this story is ultimately headed — along with a few theories — but notes that the fate of the Umbrella Academy may still be undecided. Hopefully, Netflix keeps the show around long enough to see it through to the end.
“I have some thoughts of like, what Volume 10 might be a long way down the road,” Blackman says when I ask whether he knows how this story will end. “But that is a long way down. It could be a decade. If only we’re lucky enough to have that many seasons of the show.”
The Umbrella Academy Season 3 premieres June 22