'Echo' review: A solid start for a new mature Marvel


Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios' Echo, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

First things first – with Echo, you won’t need to know everything that came before it in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Yes, it directly follows events in the 2021 Hawkeye Disney+ series, and to some extent, the previous Daredevil series on Netflix, but you don’t need to have watched those to understand what goes on in Echo, of which all five episodes are currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.

Created by comics creator David Mack, in the comics, Echo is a deaf superhero with strong ties with Daredevil, and has the power to ‘echo’ any ability she witnesses.

In the MCU, however, the deaf and one-legged Maya Lopez (played by an excellent Alaqua Cox) was first introduced in Hawkeye as an enforcer for Wilson Fisk, a.k.a The Kingpin, and doesn't have any powers (yet).

The first 20 minutes of the first of Echo's five episodes gives us a pretty good rundown of events that led up to this series as well as some of Maya's own past.

Vincent D’Onofrio (left) as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin and Darnell Besaw as young Maya Lopez.Vincent D’Onofrio (left) as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin and Darnell Besaw as young Maya Lopez.

The current plot basically picks up where Hawkeye left off, with Maya Lopez fleeing New York City after shooting Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) in the face.

Maya heads to her hometown of Tamaha in Oklahoma, where she plots her next move, while calling in favours from some old acquaintances while actively trying to avoid running into a few old friends and family members.

Her plan involves taking on Fisk’s empire on her own, but, surprise surprise, Kingpin isn’t dead, and of course, he inevitably catches up with her there.

Handily, she also discovers that her Native American Choctaw roots also grants her some sort of superpowers, which she of course, uses to good effect when facing off against Fisk and his goons.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez.Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez.

Marvel’s best TV shows, such as Ms Marvel, Loki, WandaVision, and Hawkeye, have focused on developing the characters over trying to replicate the action fantasy blockbuster of the films.

Echo benefits from this approach as well, espescially by immersing itself in Maya’s Native American Choctaw heritage to give Maya a more complex character development.

The action is bone-crunchingly violent, with one particular fight scene in a skating rink standing out the most, but it is the interaction between the characters that inhabit this particular corner of the MCU that are more interesting than the actually action itself.

Born deaf and an amputee with a prosthetic leg, Cox is excellent as Maya, holding her own in the action sequences while still bringing a vulnerability to the character that marks her as more than just another generic superhero.

D’Onofrio also makes a welcome return as Fisk, showing a more, well, paternal side to the character while still displaying an underlying rage simmering underneath his outwardly calm demeanour.

It's a performance that is fitting of one of Marvel's greatest villains, and if rumours that he is indeed being set up as a 'Thanos figure' for Marvel's street level heroes, then we can't wait to see more of him.

'Echo' benefits from a better emphasis on character development over universe-building,'Echo' benefits from a better emphasis on character development over universe-building,

So, welcome to the Spotlight, Echo. Or the Marvel Spotlight, to be exact, which is what the new banner it is under is now called. Actually, the spotlight probably isn’t the best place to be in the MCU right now, especially with Marvel Studios struggling with two out of its three movies in 2023 not doing as well as these movies usually do. Under these circumstances, maybe a new show starring a relatively unknown new superhero, even if it is technically a spinoff of Hawkeye.

But maybe this is EXACTLY what Marvel needs. A new face, a fresh start, and a hard reset of its faltering franchise. And if that was the goal here, Echo is a pretty good effort, even if it still plays it a little too safe for Marvel’s first series with ‘mature content’. Now bring on Daredevil: Born Again.

8 10

Summary:

Exactly what Marvel needs – a new face, a fresh start, and a hard reset of its faltering franchise.

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