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What The Umbrella Academy Looked Like Before Adding Special Effects

It wasn't all that long ago that The Umbrella Academy was little more than an award-winning comic book series with a devoted cult following, best known for being the product of My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way. That changed virtually overnight once The Umbrella Academy made its Netflix debut and almost instantly became one of the streaming giant's most-watched original series. 

Fans of the series have found much to love in The Umbrella Academy's stylish, hyper-violent re-imagining of superhero mythos, with many bowled over not just by its wild narrative twists and wondrous set pieces, but also by its vividly-realized visual effects. Truth be told, the stunning combined effect of The Umbrella Academy's Emmy-nominated production design and special visual effects teams is perhaps as much the star of the show in the series' inaugural season as the actors who found themselves in the middle of the apocalyptic chaos. 

Even as many of season 1's memorable images remain burned into our brains even months after our initial The Umbrella Academy binge, there's little doubt the show will only get bigger and bolder in its upcoming second season. While we wait for Team Hargreeves to re-materialize on Netflix, it's as good a time as ever to pull the curtain back on season 1's dramatic visual effects work.

Here's what some of The Umbrella Academy's scenes looked like before adding special effects.   

It took a ton of work to get Luther to the moon on The Umbrella Academy

Fans of The Umbrella Academy no doubt recall that the opening moments of the series, which depict the most unexpected birth of a future Hargreeves kid, are the very definition of "attention-grabbing." You might also recall that the opening episode proceeded to up the ante in depicting what became of the Hargreeves children later in life. One such sequence required a great deal of post-production assistance to bring it to life. The extended scene of Luther Hargreeves (Tom Hopper) wiling away his days on the surface of the moon is impressive, of course, with the character gently floating through the lunar landscape to watch the sun rise over his home planet. The scenes are even more striking, however, when you consider how much green screen and wire work went into the making this life on the lunar surface, because it certainly seems as if every single element of the shot other than Hopper is completely fake.  

Unleashing Ben's inner monster is one of The Umbrella Academy's finest moments

Throughout the inaugural run of The Umbrella Academy, the series creative team took great care – and obvious joy – in depicting the different powers possessed by the Hargreeves kids. For some members of the team, however, those powers were a definite work in progress. While Ellen Paige's Vanya clearly claimed the title of "most powerful member of The Umbrella Academy" by the time all was said and done, the season finale also elevated Klaus (Robert Sheehan) as a force with which to be reckoned. In truth, watching Klaus combine his own ability to channel and communicate with the dead with the vicious inner beast of his deceased brother, Ben (Justin H. Min), is one of the most exhilarating sequences in the entire season. It should be no surprise, given the moment's dazzling depiction, that it took a ton practical and CGI work to make the moment happen. By our lights, it was totally worth the effort. 

A simple effect gives scope to the Commission on The Umbrella Academy

Sometimes, of course, a simple special effect can go a very long way. For proof of that sentiment, look no further than The Umbrella Academy's aptly titled fifth episode, "Number Five." The installent finds the eponymous character, played with precocious zeal by Aidan Gallagher, recounting his seemingly life-consuming trip to the future, and to other places unforeseen. Part of that trip saw him making contact with The Commission, a nefarious organization that sends agents back and forth in time to ensure nobody alters Earth's timelines and fate, sometimes resorting to violence to keep the temporal peace. In getting to know The Commission and even temporarily joining its ranks, Number 5 gets an unfettered look at the inner workings of the operation. As you can see, it takes merely the slightest touch of green screen to give proper scale to The Commission's sprawling bureaucracy.

Pogo remains The Umbrella Academy's most impressive effect

As many mind-blowing effects as The Umbrella Academy's production team packed into the show's first season, the one that dazzles the most has to be the Hargreeves kids' mentor and father figure, Pogo. For those who haven't seen The Umbrella Academy, Pogo is a highly-evolved chimpanzee who thinks, talks and dresses like a human, and who plays a central role in raising the show's super-powered brood. To bring Pogo to life for The Umbrella Academy, producers looked to Peter Jackson's lauded effects house, Weta Digital, who did the job using a combination of motion capture (via Ken Hall and Adamy Godley, who also voiced the character) and some astoundingly detailed CGI work. The result is a character as fantastical as viewers have seen on the small screen, but one who also feels every bit as alive as his human counterparts ... until, that is, his gut-wrenching death in yet another scene that showcased the series' stunning VFX efforts.