Everything is not as it initially seems for Ellen Page's Umbrella Academy character Vanya/Number Seven. According to IGN, the Netflix series is adapted from the comics by Gerard Way and artist Gabriel Bá. As such, the source material offers a window into who Vanya is on Umbrella Academy and what's to come for her character. This post contains spoilers from the comic books.
According to IGN, the backstory of the series is that 43 children were all of a sudden born to women who showed no signs of pregnancy beforehand. The babies all had superhuman powers, and a wealthy man adopted seven of them to train as superheroes in his Umbrella Academy. He named each one after a number to indicate how powerful and important they were, which is why the seemingly superpower-less Vanya is dead last at Number Seven.
"Ultimately, she's a person who had this really abusive childhood, you know?" Page told the Independent of her character. "Her father was horrible to her, the children were horrible to her, and now she's existing in her early 30s and really can barely cope. She is depressed, she is anxious ... she's struggling with these feelings of complete and utter worthlessness."
Page went on to say she was excited to play the role, because that arc was relatable to her as someone who spent most of her life in the closet before coming out in 2014.
But even though her character wasn't born with powers, Page told AV Club that her siblings' abilities are kind of secondary in the show, considering everything they've been through. "[The powers are] just an extra piece to the story ... the core focus is really the trauma in [all of] their lives," she said.
Though her adoptive father always told her she was untalented, Vanya comes into her own throughout the course of the comics. According to The Morning Show, Page's character eventually writes a memoir about her troubled childhood titled Extra-Ordinary, My Life As Number Seven, and is a skilled violin player, too. She also eventually realizes she does have powers — in fact, some of the strongest. According to The Mary Sue, her father was merely suppressing Vanya's true powers because he feared them. When she discovers what she can do, she transforms into not a superhero, but a supervillain: The White Violin. She can play musical notes to destroy people — and the world.
"She's going from this place of repression, to finding out who she is, to getting in touch with the rage she has, that leads into this… power," Page hinted to the Independent about her character's arc.
The Mary Sue's Teresa Jusino raved about Page's casting for such a nuanced role, suggesting she's the perfect actor to pull off this transition from odd-one-out to vengeful villain. "Vanya requires a slow build from sheltered naif with a low self-esteem to a ferocious powerhouse driven mad by her own power, and Page could capture both ends of that spectrum with ease," Jusino wrote.
And Page has already advocated for her character in a major way. For the Netflix series, Page asked to tone down her character's sexy supervillain look from the comics so that she wouldn't be objectified. She told the Los Angeles Times that show's team was happy to transform the costume, and now, her style is "more Elton John in concert."
Fans can see what Page brings to this complicated character on Feb. 15, when the series hits Netflix. And while she may initially seem like the weakest one — never underestimate the runt of the litter.