The world of Marvel continues to expand. Thanks to Disney+ and Hulu, the newest superhero to grace your screen is Echo. While first appearing in “Hawkeye,” Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox, “Hawkeye”) returns for her solo debut in “Echo.” The series was released in its entirety on Jan. 9 with five episodes.
The show follows Maya Lopez as she escapes from New York City back to her hometown of Tamaha, Okla. after killing crime lord and infamous super villain Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio, “The Cell”). The first episode, “Chafa,” acts as the backstory summarizing Maya’s life growing up to join Kingpin’s world. Born deaf, Maya lost both her leg and her mother in a childhood car crash caused by someone retaliating against her father’s criminal jobs. She then moved to New York City with her father until his murder, after which she was adopted into Kingpin’s empire as his honorary daughter. Through training and many years as a part of his crew, Maya grows into a skilled killer who rises against Kingpin after learning he was responsible for her father’s death.
The first episode’s storyline felt overworked. While backstory is important, stuffing over twenty years of character arcs into one 44-minute episode while detailing each moment felt rushed. Rather than five, the series could have twice the number of episodes to cover everything Marvel wanted to portray.
Once the show found its rhythm, though, its unraveling was well-paced. The depth of each character was magnificent. Maya, while guarded, quickly makes her way into the audience’s hearts. Cox does a phenomenal job in showing humanity through an emotionless killer. Even though her powers only come into the show in the last episode, she was still able to dominate her enemies in entertaining and imaginative fight scenes.
The other key character, Kingpin, also known as Wilson Fisk, was less successful. While D’Onofrio visually matched the character from the comics and took on the persona with few flaws, the actual characterization felt disconnected from Kingpin’s traditional reputation. He acts as Maya’s adoptive father, which means his relationship with her would be more sentimental; however, “Echo” depicts him as an overly-emotional and mentally distraught man rather than an intimidating crime boss.
One relationship audiences wished the series would elaborate on was the friendship between Maya and Bonnie (Devery Jacobs, “Rhymes for Young Ghouls”), her cousin. A major plot point from the first and second episode was how Maya had cut off Bonnie despite their inseparability as children. Although they meet again and since Maya wants to protect her from her life, they don’t rekindle their closeness. Bonnie’s character had greater potential than what audiences saw, so hopefully Marvel develops her arc in future shows, as a second season is unknown.
“Echo” is special in its respectful navigation of indigenous representation. The show leans into the history of the Choctaw tribe both through exploration of the origin of Maya’s powers and within everyday life in Tamaha. Marvel creates a wide range of characters with different relationships to this culture, from Maya rediscovering her connection to it, while contrasting her extremely devout grandmother, Chula (Tantoo Cardinal, “Loyalties”). The costumes throughout the show, especially within the Choctaw festival in the last episode “Maya,” reflect the tribe’s real clothing in modern-day rather than stereotypical outfits to
commercialize the culture.
The series even poked fun at the ignorance of most Americans by including a white couple fascinated by the ‘exoticness’ of the Choctaw culture, wanting to buy a Navajo rug without respect or care towards the tribe aside from wanting a meaningless decoration.
Another major contribution to the show’s uniqueness is the variance in sound. “Echo” utilized silence in many scenes to replicate how Maya experienced the action. This was especially profound in fight sequences, as audiences are used to loud chaos, giving viewers a look into Maya’s world.
This juxtaposition focused both on the visual actions as well as sharing in the powerful experiences of the deaf community. Every character, aside from the less significant henchmen, uses sign language frequently, adding a new, refreshing dynamic to the conversation throughout the show.
The inclusion of sign language also helped create depth for both Maya’s character and for the series itself, something noticeably lacking in some of the other Disney+ TV shows and movies.
Even with only five episodes, Marvel’s “Echo” is a beautifully twisted series that deserves a second season.