WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Netflix's The Umbrella Academy, streaming now.
The Umbrella Academy's showrunner Steve Blackman has revealed how, and why, he changed the source material in adapting the Dark Horse Comics property for television to ensure it didn't follow the comic book tropes of so many other superhero TV series, especially those on Netflix.
"I think if we had done this early on, people would have wanted a page-for-page translation. I think now because there's a plethora of these shows, I got to do a different kind of superhero show," he said to Syfy. "There was a lot of pressure on Daredevil to look like Daredevil. For this I got a lot of leeway from Netflix to do it the way I wanted."
Blackman revealed he worked closely in tandem with the book's writer, Gerard Way, in making these adjustments to reflect the real world -- one of them being the Hargreeves family not being all-white as they are in the comics.
"I've talked to Gerard about this; I think he regrets it. I think it was just the time, where his head was at," Blackman said.
He confirmed that Way loved the alterations in terms of diversity, calling it "one of the biggest improvements on the source material" and something he wish he did himself. In the show, Allison (Emily Raver-Lampman) is black, Ben (Justin H. Min) is Asian, and Robert Sheehan's Klaus is gay to make the show more inclusive.
"I would always send him [Way] scripts and get his feedback," Blackman added. "He sees the graphic novel as one thing and the TV show as another. So he's encouraged my own creative license on the show. And I've spring-boarded from his material and changed things that needed to change and added things."
Blackman also revealed that tropes such as the young superheroes training were taken out because he saw this before in so many X-Men movies. As for Ellen Page's Vanya becoming the White Violin in the same vein of Jean Grey's Dark Phoenix, he insisted the average superhero flick would use a physical transformation, just as the books depicted, but his vision was more cerebral.
"Then there were some more comic book trope things that I wanted to take out, like how Vanya transforms, how she's transformed from the beginning to the end of the season," he continued. "In the comic book, it's a physical transformation. It's a machine. I had Ellen Page, so I wanted to do a psychological transformation."
Streaming now on Netflix, The Umbrella Academy Season 1 stars Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, David Castañeda, Aidan Gallagher, Cameron Britton, Mary J. Blige and Colm Feore.