Our business is life itself
|Corporation and laboratory|
|Founder||Edward Ashford, James Marcus and Ozwell E. Spencer|
The Umbrella Corporation is a fictional bioengineering pharmaceutical company in the Resident Evil universe. It is portrayed in the games as a major international player in a number of markets including pharmaceuticals, medical hardware, defense, and computers along with more clandestine operations utilizing genetic engineering and accused viral weaponry. The company is also presented as having a more public face, producing cosmetics, consumer products and foods.
One of Umbrella's subsidiaries is a private military contractor with a highly-trained security force capable of rescue, reconnaissance, and paramilitary operations. The corporation uses the force to secure and protect its assets and high profile employees.
The back story of the Umbrella Corporation gives it as founded in 1968 by Lord Ozwell E. Spencer, Sir Edward Ashford and Dr. James Marcus at the corporation's Raccoon City facilities while Spencer maintained control over the company for the next thirty years. Soon Umbrella had multiple research facilities and various research being done on various viruses - G-virus, T-virus, Nemesis parasite, etc. - but it was the Arklay Research Facility that became the most prominent together with nearby Arklayonnel and also contained a cutting-edge laboratory installation. However, it was noted by researcher Albert Wesker that the military potential of the T-virus would never make up for the cost of research and production, and that the Arklay facility seemed to be deliberately placed in an area where any leak would cause an uncontrollable outbreak.
Spencer eventually grew distrustful of Marcus, as he was worried that the scientist, who had recently started to make a comeback with his research project, might endanger his position as the Umbrella Corporation's key figure. Spencer arranged for his assassination by Wesker and William Birkin in 1988. Birkin took over Marcus' research soon after and was credited as the inventor of the T-virus.
Umbrella's fortunes failed to improve after the Raccoon City incident. The US government was forced to take extreme measures to ensure the spread of the T-virus was stopped. "Mission: Code XX" was approved, and Raccoon City was annihilated by a nuclear missile strike (or by multiple high explosive ballistic missiles or by aerial bombing, depending upon which game ending is viewed). Despite the apparent disastrous effects this would bring for Umbrella, Spencer used his immense wealth and assets in an attempt to cover up the catastrophe as the result of a government conspiracy. Because most of the evidence of Umbrella's involvement had been destroyed by the strike, Umbrella managed to drag out the legal proceedings.
Shortly after the Raccoon City incident, the US government began a formal investigation of Umbrella's business practices. Several further disasters virtually ensured Umbrella's eventual collapse: On Sheena Island, an Umbrella senior executive, Vincent Goldman, unleashed the T-virus on its citizens in a bid to cover up his business on the island that had not been accepted by Umbrella's executive board and emerge as the sole survivor of the incident, bringing vital research data regarding the new Tyrant project—Hypnos T-Type—with him. However, an undercover investigator Ark Thompson, operating on behalf of Leon S. Kennedy, a survivor of the Raccoon City incident, succeeded in stopping Goldman's plans, resulting in his death and the loss of data regarding the new Tyrant type. Thompson emerged as a survivor of the incident along with two local children.
Shortly afterwords, Claire Redfield, sister of STARS Alpha team member Chris Redfield and also a survivor of the Raccoon City incident, broke into Umbrella's Paris facilities in search of her brother. She was captured and sent to Umbrella's facility on Rockfort Island. While there, she witnessed Wesker attack the island in search of the T-Veronica virus, another derivative of the T-virus. Escaping the island, she found herself trapped at the Antarctic Transport Terminal, another Umbrella Facility, where Edward Ashford's granddaughter, Alexia Ashford, awoke from a self-induced coma with a desire to establish a new world order. Alexia was eventually killed and the Facility destroyed by Chris and Claire Redfield.
In 2002, Morpheus D. Duvall, a former Umbrella researcher who Umbrella officially blamed for the incident at the Arklay Laboratory, stole vials of T-virus from Umbrella's Paris facility, then hijacked the Umbrella-owned cruise ship, Spencer Rain, upon which Umbrella had been trying to sell some of its latest BOWs to the highest bidder in a last ditch attempt to obtain financial resources for the company's continued survival. All passengers and crew on the ship were infected with the T-virus, and Morpheus also stole a sample of Umbrella's most powerful virus, the tG-virus, a blend of the T and G viruses. Morpheus planned to launch missiles containing the T-virus at American and Chinese cities unless the governments of both countries paid him excessive amounts of money. Due to the intervention of Anti-Umbrella agent Bruce McGivern, Morpheus was stopped and Umbrella lost the Spencer Rain and all research data and BOW specimens on it, as well as the remains of their waste disposal facility and secret underwater research laboratory on an unnamed island in the Atlantic Ocean.
Due to the series of disasters plaguing the company, and the ongoing legal proceedings against them, Umbrella's stock prices plummeted. By the early 21st century, the Umbrella Corporation's ruin was nearly absolute. Umbrella retained one last major stronghold located in southern Russia. Following Spencer's disappearance, this facility was placed under the leadership of Sergei Vladimir, and now housed the UMF-013, a supercomputer containing all of the company's data.
In 2003, Umbrella's stronghold came under attack by special forces troops led by Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, along with an unrelated attack by Albert Wesker. While the special forces secured the facility and destroyed the T-ALOS project, Wesker infiltrated the facility and assassinated Vladimir, stealing all the data from the UMF-013. Wesker then turned incriminating data over to the prosecutors working against Umbrella, and testified, under the guise as a friend of Ozwell. Five years after Raccoon City's destruction, Umbrella was finally found guilty on all charges of its involvement in that massacre and an international manhunt by the FBI and the FSB had started to bring Spencer to justice.
Throughout the Resident Evil series, several Umbrella-owned paramilitary units were introduced, driving the plot and providing new enemies and allies.
Umbrella Security Service (Special Forces)
The Umbrella Security Service (Special Forces Unit) (USS or USFU) were first introduced in Resident Evil 2. USS Alpha team attempted to steal a sample of the G-virus, causing the city-wide outbreak in the game. Delta team appeared in the prequel Resident Evil Zero; Delta team was sent in to blow up the Ecliptic Express after the trouble occurred, but was overwhelmed by the leeches and wiped out. Delta team was under the direct command of Wesker and Birkin.
Other games give further background for the Umbrella Special Forces. According to Code: Veronica, USFU agents are trained at the Rockfort Island facility.
One of the more notable members of the USFU, HUNK, appears first in a minigame in Resident Evil 2, where he is given the mission of retrieving the G-virus from the research facility under Raccoon City. Canonically, he is the only survivor of his squad's mission.
USFU agents are always depicted in solid-color grey fatigues, wearing protective vests and gas masks (except in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, where they are depicted in solid black fatigues, vests, and a type of enclosed helmet). They report directly to the highest ranking officers in Umbrella. Unlike the UBCS which performs more visible missions such as rescuing civilians, this unit maintains total secrecy and a small size. Also unlike the UBCS, this unit's personnel are not considered to be expendable. Members of the USFU are ex-military, highly trained, and dedicated to protecting Umbrella's various assets.
Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service
The Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (UBCS) was introduced in Resident Evil 3. Numerous squads of UBCS soldiers are deployed to Raccoon City, supposedly to search for survivors and to help contain the zombie epidemic. In fact, they were deployed so that Umbrella could gain reliable combat data regarding their biological weapons—a fact known only to their supervisors (who never expected their forces to be wiped out). One of their members, Carlos Oliveira, is a main character in the game. UBCS members are also depicted in Resident Evil Outbreak-Files #1 and #2- and The Umbrella Chronicles.
The UBCS was founded by former Soviet Colonel Sergei Vladimir. The service is mainly composed of "nightmen", mostly former mercenaries and war criminals recruited by Umbrella and trained to deal with "problems caused by illegal products." In Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Extinction they are referred to as the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Force.
The Supervisors are introduced in Resident Evil 3 and further fleshed out by documents in The Umbrella Chronicles, where they are referred as "Monitor". They are also known as "Observers" in the book Resident Evil: Archives. The Supervisors are part of an internal espionage organization within Umbrella meant to monitor suspicious activity among its own employees. Supervisors are usually placed throughout the corporation and maintain the image of normal employees in order to help them conduct their spy activities. Several Supervisors were placed among the UBCS, one of whom was Nicholai Ginovaef. Their orders range from spying on fellow employees and destroying evidence to cleanup operations, including assassinations if required.
Umbrella Trashsweepers unit
Resident Evil Survivor includes a force known as the Umbrella Trashsweepers, also known as the Undertakers or Cleaners. Cleaners appear to have uniforms similar to those of Umbrella's Special Forces Unit, with body armor, gas masks, and gray battle dress uniforms. Their role is to destroy all evidence of a viral outbreak, including survivors.
GameInformer ranked the Umbrella Corporation first in the magazine's list of the “Top Ten Evil Corporations,” declaring that since "the revelation of Umbrella’s bio-weapon engineering research facility hidden beneath Raccoon City, the company has been exposed, infiltrated, and exploded more than a few times. These are but minor setbacks for Umbrella, as it always ends up playing a role in the latest zombie-related mishap. Constant infighting among key Umbrella figures established the company’s rocky foundation, and Umbrella’s tenacity in bio-weapons research ended up being its own undoing. Apparently, routinely zombifying your employees cuts down productivity."
- Resident Evil 3 Digest 2, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
- Eradication Operation Notes, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
- Resident Evil Horror / - Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
- Tim Turi, “Top Ten Evil Corporations,” GameInformer 204 (April 2010): 36.