Echo Review

Months after shooting Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio), Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) heads home to Oklahoma to try and take over his criminal empire.

by Sophie Butcher |
Published on

Streaming on: Disney+

Episodes viewed: 2 of 5

With Echo, Marvel launches ‘Spotlight’: a new collection of projects that, according to them, require no prior knowledge of the MCU to be enjoyed, to reduce the sheer amount of watching needed to understand what’s going on in any given film or show. Whether that strategy is successfully executed here, however, is up for debate.

The first episode attempts a lot of heavy lifting. It chronicles Maya’s (Alaqua Cox) childhood, family relationships, and how she was taken under Kingpin’s (Vincent D’Onofrio) wing. It introduces the mystical lore of the Native American Choctaw people. It includes scenes from Hawkeye, to get viewers up to speed on Maya’s MCU story so far — but those who missed it aren’t given quite enough context to understand what they’re watching, while those who saw it already do.

It’s a somewhat confusing set-up. But there’s still room for excitement. The first big action sequence is a humdinger: stitched together as one long take, it’s a brutal, bloody showdown where Maya really lets loose her ass-kicking skills, takes on Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, and shows some personality along the way. The choreography celebrates her disabilities, showing off the power of her prosthetic leg and the score dropping out to emulate her deafness.

There’s undeniable value in foregrounding a hero like Maya.

Still a relative acting newcomer, Alaqua Cox holds her own — but even aside from how her deafness is a barrier in communicating with others, Maya is a stoic protagonist, and the script doesn’t always succeed at conveying her motivations. She bounces well off goofy cousin Biscuit (Cody Lightning), but her connection with family friend Henry (an excellent Chaske Spencer) is strongest. D’Onofrio’s Kingpin, aka Wilson Fisk, is barely in these first two instalments, but his ruthless, powerful presence looms large.

Echo has gotten stick for simply existing, with some MCU fans unconvinced about a whole series dedicated to a hitherto minor character. Those dead set against it are unlikely to change their opinion upon watching it, but there’s undeniable value in foregrounding a hero like Maya. Her differences mean she’s been at odds with the world her whole life, giving her a kind of fearlessness — whether that’s in throwing herself off a train, walking into a room full of dangerous people, or taking on Kingpin. The show’s changing of the ‘Echo’ moniker’s meaning to relate to Maya channelling the power of her ancestors is an idea that allows for a rich exploration of Choctaw history. These episodes may get off to a muddled start, but there are signs of promising things to come.

Though inconsistently paced and lacking in character development, Echo is still an interesting look at a pretty remarkable hero, with some thrilling fights — and the more adult tone is a welcome new direction for the MCU.
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