Season one of The Umbrella Academy introduces a host of ex-child superheroes, adopted by an eccentric scientist who wants to use their powers to save the world – but one member of the Hargreeves family doesn’t come quite so powered up.
In fact, Ellen Page’s Vanya Hargreeves thinks she’s normal most of her life, until its revealed towards the end of the first season that she has more power than anyone could imagine – and definitely more than she can handle.
While her siblings have a host of special abilities – Klaus can raise the dead, Allison can persuade you to do anything and Number Five can time travel and teleport, to name but a few – Vanya’s powers are more mysterious, and don’t show themselves until later on.
Comic-book fans might know that Vanya’s journey leads her to become The White Violin – but what are her The Umbrella Academy powers? And how does the Netflix series change them from the comics?
Warning: Spoilers for season one below
What are Vanya’s powers?
Towards the end of season one we learn that Vanya can convert sound into pure destructive force, which is capable of killing people and destroying entire buildings. Her powers also appear linked to her emotions – especially when she gets angry – causing more destruction when she lashes out against others.
Sometimes, Vanya’s abilities can effect the elements too – in season one, Vanya’s sound powers appear to create bad weather, powerful wind and rain, though this doesn’t always appear to be the case. Later, as she gets more control over her powers she can use her violin to channel them, which she does in the climactic final scenes of season one.
After discovering she had been lied to for years Vanya turned on her siblings using her abilities to overpower them – but it’s possible she could redeem herself in season two, as well as learn more about what she can do.
Why didn’t Vanya have powers as a child?
When she was younger, Reginald realised that Vanya’s powers were too strong and unpredictable for him to control, especially given how emotionally-influenced they appeared to be.
After locking her in a special cell for a time, he used her “sister” Allison’s Rumor ability to wipe Vanya’s knowledge of and ability to access her powers, convincing her and the world that she was the only non-powered member of the family while also keeping her medicated.
However, Umbrella Academy super-fan Leonard Peabody (John Magaro) discovered the truth, making it his business to unlock Vanya’s memories and abilities.
How does Vanya become The White Violin?
In The Umbrella Academy season one, Leonard stages a series of high-stress situations to help Vanya unlock her powers – however they prove too strong for her to handle, and when Leonard mocks Vanya and belittles her she ends up killing him, having previously nearly killed her sister Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) by cutting her throat with a violin bow.
Her other siblings end up locking her in a soundproof cell to contain her, but Vanya breaks out using the sound of her heartbeat. Leaving the Academy and destroying the building, Vanya’s eyes and skin tone turn white – a reference to the original comics where her character adopts a similar appearance – and she continues to play a concert at the Icarus Theatre, where the powerful sounds she unleashes end up destroying the Moon and bringing about the apocalypse.
In the comics the storyline for how Vanya discovers her powers is different, and involves an evil music conductor, but the abilities themselves are similar. Comic-book Vanya (who actually adopts the name the White Violin) channels incredibly destructive force through her instrument, in a focused enough way to cut a throat or powerful enough to destroy the Moon.
In the TV series Vanya seems able to use her abilities without a violin specifically, with other noises (for example, the ring of a glass or her own heartbeat) working well enough for her to unleash her power.
The Umbrella Academy is streaming on Netflix now. For more ideas on what to watch check out our best movies on Netflix guide or best series on Netflix.