If you haven’t had a chance to read Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s The Umbrella Academy series yet, please pick up a copy now! It’s a wonderfully eclectic series that reads like The Uncanny X-Men by way of Wes Anderson. In the series, the titular academy is for gifted children and is run by Sir Reginald Hargreeves AKA The Monocle.
While it may seem like Hargreeves is a headmaster in the same vein as Professor Charles Xavier of the X-Men, the two teachers are extraordinarily different. However, they do share some enough qualities that comparing the two isn’t a stretch. In this list, we’ll look at how they’re similar and just how very, very, different they can be.
10 Same: Both Are Geniuses
A key characteristic of both Professor X and Sir Reginald is their inarguable genius intellects. While his adventures with the X-Men typically focus on Xavier’s powerful telepathy, it is not to be forgotten that he is a celebrated geneticist, the world’s leading expert on mutation, and the inventor of Cerebro.
Sir Reginald, to his credit, is credited for the invention of multiple gadgets seen through The Umbrella Academy, including the Televator (a teleportation elevator,) the Mobile Umbrella Communicator (Cell-Phone,) and of course Clever Crisp Cereal.
9 Different: Hargreeves Is An Alien
For most of his life, Professor X hid the fact he was a mutant from the rest of the world. This led to him being condemned by critics and bigots as a “Mutant Sympathizer” for years before he revealed the truth to humanity. Sir Reginald had a completely different secret…
It turned out that the celebrated scientist/entrepreneur/Olympic athlete was, in reality, an extraterrestrial. The truth about his background was, apparently, never revealed to the world even after his mysterious death. Whether this plot point will be addressed in a future miniseries remains to be seen.
8 Same: Both Run A School For Gifted Children
Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and the Umbrella Academy are both institutions that seek to help children born with extraordinary powers hone their gifts. Both “schools” are overseen by Professor X and Sir Reginald, respectively.
While controlling their abilities is the primary purpose of the schools, both places seem to actually function as places of learning as well, with students learning regular academic disciplines like math, science, and history. However, the approach both headmasters take to their student’s wellbeing is a little different…
7 Different: Hargreeves Doesn’t Care About His Students’ Happiness
“In closing, I’d like to state that I never desired to break the children. I merely sought to foster their potential – which was unfortunately never that vast.” is a quote from a speech given by Sir Reginald that closes issue #2 of The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite. Hargreeves utilized negative reinforcement to help train his students, constantly showing his blunt disapproval of their efforts and character.
One can never imagine Professor X acting this way. While we’ve seen him be strict with his students, it always came from a deep place of empathy. His sincere belief in his students is one of his defining characteristics.
6 Same: Both Are Fabulously Wealthy
Both Sir Reginald and Professor X are exceedingly wealthy individuals. Hargreeves derived his fortune through the patents on his aforementioned incredibly successful inventions. This allows him to maintain the mansion in which his academy is housed, along with his servants.
Professor X is also fairly rich, with the X-Mansion being his ancestral family home. His father Dr. Brian Xavier was a wealthy nuclear scientist, and after his untimely death, Professor X inherited his vast fortune and family estate.
5 Different: Hargreeves Isn’t Highly Respected By His Students
Sir Reginald’s harsh method of teaching and interacting with his students/adopted children. Unsurprisingly, this leads to them having complicated feelings about their “father” and headmaster upon the news of his death. While some like Spaceboy are loyal, the rest seem to hold on to their resentment.
Professor X is highly respected and loved by his students and alumni of his school. After his death in the AvX event, his funeral was attended by hundreds of his current and former pupils, with other heroes like the Avengers sending their condolences as well.
4 Same: Both Want to Save the World
When the press asks Sir Reginald why he has gone about adopting so many of the special children who have been born across the world he replies “To save the world, of course.” From what specifically the world needed saving from is a question as of yet left unanswered in the series.
Likewise, Professor X began his school to foster better human-mutant relations, and famously, to protect the very humans for fear and hate mutant-kind. Professor X’s dream of a better world for humans and mutants makes him very different from Sir Reginald.
3 Different: Professor X is a Humanitarian
Long before Professor X revealed himself to the world as a mutant, he was known throughout the world as a champion for the rights of mutantkind. His goal of peace between humans and mutants have often led writers to use civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King as an inspiration for his characterization (though he does stumble morally a few times.)
Hargreeve’s goals in creating the Umbrella Academy are far more guarded beyond his stated intention of using the school as a means to save the world. He doesn’t seem like a particularly benevolent figure, and his creation of the Hotel Oblivion, an extralegal prison for supervillains placed in another dimension, makes it seem as though he sees little value in individual rights.
2 Same: Both Saw Their Original Classes Disband
While the first graduating class of the X-Men and the Umbrella Academy were both active for a lengthy period, they both eventually disbanded, albeit for different reasons. The original X-Men solemnly let Professor X know that they planned on leaving and making names for themselves outside the school, as his years of guidance had taught them to accept their powers and their potential.
While little is known about why the Umbrella Academy disband (possibly something to do with the death of their teammate The Horror,) one can imagine that it was likely far less civil. When the first series picks up, the team has not spoken in years.
1 Different: We Don’t Know Much About Hargreeves’ Past
Thanks to nearly 50 years worth of X-Men stories, Professor X’s background has been fleshed out very well. From his childhood to his military service and his time in college, we have seen many of the situations that made Charles Xavier the person he is today. Sir Reginald is the exact opposite.
Other than that he’s a wealthy alien inventor, his past is completely a mystery to us. We know little about what his reasons for being on earth were or why he would invest so much of his time to save it. Hints a sprinkled here and there throughout each of the three existing series, but we’ll need to wait until the next one for any more answers!
In many ways, Umbrella Academy's Reginald Hargreeves is a lot like Professor X… but not all ways.