Netflix's wildly successful The Umbrella Academy introduces the Hargreeves siblings as the adopted children of "mysterious billionaire" Reginald Hargreeves, but the show indicated in the season 1 finale that he might be more closely related to them after all.
In the series, as in Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá's comics, Sir Reginald Hargreeves a.k.a. The Monocle (Colm Feore) adopts seven, supernaturally powered children after they're born to mothers who famously showed zero signs of pregnancy before giving birth. He proceeds to raise them with a myopic focus on developing them into a team of superheroes, but his lack of paternal affection (in part) results in the team splintering and the siblings becoming estranged before they reach adulthood.
Hargreeves is the only father the children ever know (unless you count kindly mutant chimp Pogo (Adam Godley), and there's very little attention paid to their biological paternity in either iteration of The Umbrella Academy. However, the prologue to the comics' first book, The Apocalypse Suite, features a pretty whimsical explanation of how the kids came into being: during an intergalactic, interspecies boxing match, "Tusselin' Tom" Gurney knocked out a space squid with an atomic elbow at exactly 9:38pm, and on the same day 43 children were born to previously un-pregnant women. No other explanation is given for the children's origins - the books would have us believe that an atomic knockout punch instantaneously spread space seed lightyears away and those seeds grew into the Umbrella Academy. Stranger things have happened and do happen in the story, so it doesn’t feel particularly worth mentioning.
But the show abandoned that prologue, and the choice to eliminate the boxing match could've been explained by simple practicality at first glance - showrunner Steve Blackman set the absurd, macabre tone of the show just fine without paying Weta Digital to create a boxing squid. But the flashback that kicks off episode 10 “The White Violin” implies Blackman might have had something else in mind when he changed the beginning of the series - maybe something having to do with the mysterious parentage of Hargreeves' children.
- This Page: The Umbrella Academy's Births Are A Mystery
- Page 2: Did Sir Reginald Give The Umbrella Academy Their Powers?
The Umbrella Academy's Births Are A Mystery
Season 1 of The Umbrella Academy opens... aggressively. We watch a young Russian girl share her first kiss in the middle of an indoor swim practice. It's sweet, innocent and touching - everything a first kiss should be. And then she gives birth in the middle of the pool and Vanya Hargreeves is born. That day, October 1st 1989, 42 other women across the world also gave birth without showing any previous signs of pregnancy. “Eccentric billionaire and adventurer” Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of them and the rest is history.
The series doesn’t give any more of an explanation regarding the heritage of the seven children who will eventually become the Umbrella Academy. As far as audiences know they never saw their mothers again and no mention is ever made of their paternity. Season 1 spends its entirety introducing us to the Hargreeves family and their warped childhood, but largely ignores the mystery surrounding their parentage – until the season finale, that is.
Sir Reginald's Backstory And the Jar Of Lights
“The White Violin” begins with a cold open uncharacteristically focused on Sir Reginald. For the first nine episodes remains the taciturn, loveless head of the household who goes to great lengths to ensure his children don’t associate him with any type of affection. But “The White Violin” introduced a very different man. On a planet that clearly isn’t Earth, “Reggie” prepares to leave and laments that he can’t take his dying wife with him. He brings her a violin and she insists he take it with him and give it to someone who will love it as much as she did. She pushes him to leave saying, “The world needs you,” and after he says goodbye, Hargreeves picks up a glass jar filled with lights, opens a window and releases the them into the air.
In the background, we see various rockets take off from the planet indicating others might be leaving, but there’s no confirmation that that’s the case or what would cause such an exodus. In any case, Hargreeves leaves what we can assume is his home planet after releasing a bunch of tiny lights into the sky. He travels to Earth and arrives in the year 1928, and almost immediately thereafter buys an umbrella company. We never learn anything more about his planet, his wife and the mysterious lightning bugs they kept. But the significance of this sequence can’t be ignored when discussing how the Umbrella Academy children came into being.