‘The Umbrella Academy’ Showrunner Explains Why the Show and Graphic Novels Are ‘on Separate Lines Now’

Steve Blackman also tells TheWrap why he wanted to tell a “family vs. family story” in Season 3


More than anything, Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” has always been a show about family. And in Season 3, that theme becomes even more prevalent as the titular (and dysfunctional) superhero team comes face to face with a “What If?” scenario in the form of The Sparrow Academy, resulting in what showrunner Steve Blackman calls a “family vs. family story.”

Season 2 of Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” left fans on a whopping cliffhanger with the central characters jumping “back” to their present day timeline from the 1960s, only to realize something major has changed: their father, Reginald Hargreeves, is not only alive, but he runs The Sparrow Academy (not the Umbrella Academy) which is made up of seven different superpowered individuals.

Season 3 begins right where we left off, with these opposing superhero lineups face-to-face, and when Blackman sat down to envision the season he says he knew right from the beginning he wanted to tell a story about two families.

“I knew from [graphic novel creator] Gerard [Way], who I’m good friends with, that the Sparrows were going to come alive in the graphic novel, so I wanted to sort of lean into that,” Blackman told TheWrap during a recent interview. “I wanted to show the difference between what could have happened to the Umbrellas had they stayed a family versus them breaking apart and not staying together.”

To do so, Blackman drew a clear distinction between how the Umbrellas function versus the Sparrows.

“The Umbrella Academy is a family that didn’t know how to be superheroes, and the Sparrows are superheroes that didn’t know how to be a family,” he said. “So that was my starting point. It’s sort of a ‘What If?’ What could the Umbrellas have been?”

And while Blackman noted the dysfunctional nature of the Umbrellas, he added that they’re “starting to really come together as a family” at this point, and may have a thing or two to teach the Sparrows.

But “The Umbrella Academy” Season 3 doesn’t just tackle the Sparrows storyline. It also pulls in the graphic novel storyline known as “Hotel Oblivion,” although Blackman’s version of the location is a bit different from what happens in the source material. He mentioned that at this point, he and Way are on the same page when it comes to the show’s relationship to the graphic novels.

“I’m trying to always be respectful of the source material, but Gerard and I got to a good place where he sort of accepts that the TV show and the graphic novel are not the same thing anymore,” Blackman conceded. “We’re actually sort of symbiotic where there are things in the TV show that are sort of influencing how he’s continuing the graphic novels, and clearly what he does in the graphic novels influences what we do in the TV show.”

The showrunner said the show and the comics are “on separate lines now,” adding that “there are places [Way] goes in ‘Hotel Oblivion’ we probably won’t go to” while pointing out that the show follows a more linear storyline than the comics, which necessitates some changes.

Find out what other surprises are in store when “The Umbrella Academy” Season 3 premieres on Netflix on June 22.