The Umbrella Academy's Luther has come in for some criticism from viewers, but is he really responsible for the woes of the Hargreeves family and the end of the world? Season 1 of Netflix's The Umbrella Academy roughly followed the "Apocalypse Suite" arc of the comic books, charting Vanya's ascent from the black sheep of the Hargreeves siblings to the powerful supervillain known as the White Violin. As her newfound powers spiraled out of control, Vayna's sound energy ended up destroying the moon and showering a fatal smattering of asteroids down upon mankind. The end of the world as we know it - and the Academy failed to prevent it.
At the forefront of the Umbrella Academy's efforts to prevent the apocalypse was the group's leader, Luther, otherwise known as Number 1. With powers of super strength and enhanced durability, Luther is the archetypal superhero and a bastion of morality, justice and fairness but, according to some viewers, he's also the most toxic of the already-dysfunctional Hargreeves siblings.
The online Luther hate revolves around three key issues, the first being his often condescending attitude to the other members of the Academy, with the exception of Allison for whom he holds a romantic candle. Indeed, there are a number of scenes where Luther talks down to his fellow crime-fighters, and his rivalry with Diego is a key subplot of The Umbrella Academy's entire first season.
Secondly, some argue that Luther's misguided emotions indirectly (and unwittingly) cause the apocalypse. After Vayna lashes out and almost kills Allison, Luther insists on locking her up, despite the protests of all the other siblings. Being isolated and alone acts as a trigger for Vanya's transformation into the White Violin and it could certainly be argued that, had Luther not been blinded by his drive to protect Allison, the Hargreeves siblings could have helped Vanya before she lost control.
There are also several question marks hanging over Luther's actions during the climactic violin recital scene. Not only does Luther refuse to believe Klaus has manifested new abilities, but he also dismisses Allison's proposal that she try and talk Vanya down, instead using her presence as a distraction for a surprise attack that ultimately fails. If Luther had placed more faith in his siblings, it is possible that the apocalypse could have been avoided.
While there's absolutely no argument that Luther is a flawed human being that makes multiple mistakes in the first season of The Umbrella Academy, to single him out misses the point of the show. All of the Academy members have issues and each of them take these problems out on their fellow siblings at one time or another. However, Luther's foibles perhaps stand out because his arc is essentially the opposite of the other 5 siblings. Every other Umbrella Academy kid starts season 1 in a damaged place, whether that be Allison's domestic issues, Klaus' addiction or Diego's recklessness. With each episode, these characters attempt to make amends for their faults and emerge a better person by the season finale.
For Luther, however, this process happens in reverse. At the start of the show, Luther believes he's, quite literally, on top of the world. Still loyal to his adopted father, Luther sees himself as Earth's unheralded savior and the only member of the Academy who truly understands their responsibility. Rather than grow as a character in season 1, Luther's world is dismantled, leaving him in a darker place, and setting up a redemption arc for The Umbrella Academy season 2. This journey is just as valid as those experienced by the other characters, but it does make Luther's flaws more apparent.
As for causing the apocalypse, there's no doubt Luther might've acted differently with the benefit of hindsight. However, there are far too many variables at play to place the blame solely on his sizable, hairy shoulders. Even if Klaus hadn't been consigned to lookout duty, and even if Luther had gone with Allison's plan, perhaps Vanya still would've destroyed the world. It could also be argued that the entire Academy should share the blame, since they were all complicit in ostracizing Vayne during childhood and causing the resentment that prompted her transformation.
The Umbrella Academy season 2 is currently without a release date. More news as it arrives.