A gritty, ruthless, and raw Marvel Studios offering, Echo is an intriguing character-driven story that features kick*ss action and the new queen of the Marvel streets, Maya Lopez.
Marvel Studios Echo Review
After the events of Hawkeye, Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) is being pursued by Kingpin's (Vincent D'Onofrio) criminal empire. On the run and injured, Maya makes her way home where she must confront the family she and her father left behind. While there she also begins to feel a draw to the past and the legacy of her Choctaw heritage. However it isn't long before Fisk's men catch up to her, pulling her family and the town into the war she started. Echo follows Maya from her youth, growing up with her family before an unbearable loss tears them apart. Then it moves into what happened after she became an orphan and was taken in by Kingpin, who molded her into a killing machine. Finally, it lands in the present when the consequences of her actions during the finale of Hawkeye have come calling.
For those looking for a darker, more Netflix era offering from Marvel Studios, look not further than Echo. A gritty, ruthless, and raw crime drama that delivers a character-driven story and some kick*ss fight sequences as Maya tackles Kingpin and his empire head on. Woven throughout is the culture and history of the Choctaw Nation which bolsters the depth and emotional throughlines of this spotlight series. D'Onofrio has returned (we all knew he would) somehow even a more formidable presence as Kingpin. However it is truly Cox that shines as the new queen of the Marvel streets.
First off, for anyone thinking this is a Daredevil lite or hoping Matt Murdock is hanging out in every episode let me stop you right there. This show is called Echo and it is shocking for some I know, about Maya Lopez. Daredevil is a great cameo but he doesn't overstay his welcome and that is as it should be. Is the scene with him awesome? Sure is. And because it's just that moment, it's special and makes me excited for the eventual team-up I could see happening with the two of them. Now that that bit of housekeeping is out of the way, let's get into the actual show.
Echo, like the film Prey and the Kahhori episode of Marvel's What If…? weaves in the indigenous culture and history of the respective characters. In this case, Maya is from the Choctaw Nation, and right from the beginning, viewers are immersed in the language and heritage of this group. This focus gives a richness to the plot that is one of the strongest aspects of the show. It helps to flesh out Maya's character just as much (if not more) as seeing her interact with Kingpin or beat up some of his baddies. Meaningful storytelling does so much to elevate the stories of the MCU and its characters. Learning about her legacy, meeting her family and friends, all work together to make you become invested in this character that is fairly new to the screen. Her life is multifaceted and you can't help but want to know everything about her. Her story is one about relationships and circumstances, how they shaped her and what she will do now that she is on her own.
When it comes to her ancestors, from the story of the first Choctaw, to her grandmother, it is easy to see how everything has been handled with care and a desire to get it right. Visually, the ancestor scenes feel ethereal, like a child's bedtime story come to life. Other than those few moments, Echo is CGI-light which is never a bad thing. In fact I prefer hand-to-hand combat over CGI'd battles, even if seeing Cap stand up to Thanos still gives me chills. Echo takes its visual cues from the likes of the Netflix Marvel shows which a lot of MCU fans have been clamoring for. Also the sound design is clever, plussing the action moments in all the best ways.
Echo is a street-level, slow burn, crime drama that is violent, raw, and ruthless, not just in a physical sense but also because of the incredible performances by Cox and D'Onofrio. Kingpin and his influence looms large over Maya's life. D'Onofrio once again embodies this character masterfully, balancing the line between a seemingly doting caretaker and merciless crime boss with ease. His scenes with Cox are full of intense emotions, permeating the screen and your living room with their ferocity. Cox is an absolute force as Maya, joining the ranks as one of the best castings Marvel has ever made. She is focused, a bit sassy, and a total bad*ss. 100% here for more Maya. Also protect Biscuit (Cody Lightning) at all costs. You'll know what I mean when you meet him.
This is the first series under the new Marvel Spotlight banner which is designed to showcase, according to Marvel, more grounded, character-driven stories. Comic fans will recognize that title as something that started back in 1971. Spotlight was an anthology comic book series that became the origin of characters like Ghost Rider and Spider-Woman. What it means for Echo and future titles under this designation is that they focus on smaller stakes rather than the MCU at large. Watching multiple projects won't be necessary to understand the plot, although in this case a quick run-through of Hawkeye would give some foundation for this character.
It may only be 5 episodes but Echo gets it done, delivering a strong character-driven story that also honors differently abled people as well as the Choctaw Nation. It's a darker MCU series, something many have been waiting for, helping to usher in a new era of mature content. Maya stands out amongst the other great female Marvel heroes and I for one can't wait to see what she does next. Long live the queen.
All episodes of Marvel Studios ECHO are now streaming on Disney+ and Hulu. To view it set your Disney+ account to allow MA content.