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TV Review: ‘Echo’ | Moviefone


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Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios' 'Echo,' exclusively on Disney+.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios’ ‘Echo,’ exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2023. All Rights Reserved.

Launching on both Disney+ and Hulu on January 9th, ‘Echo’ sees Marvel looking to assuage claims that it can only ever produce stories that are intrinsically linked to the wider cinematic universe.

So even though this is spun off from 2021’s ‘Hawkeye’ (where Alaqua Cox was introduced as deaf criminal enforcer Maya “Echo” Lopez), the new show looks to stand on its own for the most part. Even if the studio known for its sprawling storytelling can’t help but sprinkle in at least one cameo from another Marvel stalwart.

What ‘Echo’ really has to prove, however, is that it’s worthy of existing at all, especially at such a crucially tough point for Marvel (the company had a dreadful 2023 and faces a new year with a reduced number of shows and movies to rely on), and in the wake of rumors that it was heavily re-worked after early cuts were met with dissatisfaction by studio bosses.

Like Maya Lopez herself, this proves to be a scrappy, violent piece of work that often finds itself with its back up against the wall, but often with a smart solutions. Or, failing that, some nifty fighting skills.

Does ‘Echo’ Resonate?

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios' 'Echo,' releasing on Hulu and Disney+.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios’ ‘Echo,’ releasing on Hulu and Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2023. All Rights Reserved.

Marvel only provided critics with the first three episodes (of five) and the fact that it’s all dropping in one go as opposed to the usual weekly release the company has established for its Disney+ output also carries with it the faint whiff of something that the studio is looking to push out (in January, no less) and move on from.

Yet while this is a far from perfect example of Marvel storytelling, it does at least take some interesting swings and layers in plenty of Native American (specifically Choctaw Nation) detail in an attempt to have this stand out from the typical bout of superpowered fisticuffs.

Advertised as the first of the new “Marvel Spotlight” label (the destination for stories that don’t have to move the wider MCU story forward), this is a darker and more vicious take on the character, especially in the wake of the more lighthearted ‘Hawkeye’.

‘Echo’: Script and Direction

Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin and Darnell Besaw as young Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios' 'Echo,' releasing on Hulu and Disney+.

(L to R) Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin and Darnell Besaw as young Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios’ ‘Echo,’ releasing on Hulu and Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 Marvel.

With Sydney Freedland as lead director and executive producer, strides have been made to have ‘Echo’ offer real Native American representation, featuring plenty of flashbacks to the Choctaw Nation’s past and Maya herself seeming to channel ancestors (or at least have visions of them) at certain points.

In reality, though, it still somewhat comes across as window dressing more than, say a series such as ‘Reservation Dogs’, which fully embraces its native nature and has real use for it. Still, there are enough layers here that you appreciate the attempt.

Story-wise, the majority of the initial episode spends its time catching the audience up on what has happened before with the character and exploring her origin –– including how she lost part of one leg and learned of her family’s criminal links. Some of it is welcome world-building (and when you have actors such as Graham Greene and Zahn McClarnon in the roles, you know it’ll be worthwhile), while other scenes can feel like the show dragging its feet.

The look of the show is a real mixed bag –– while the focus is on a grittier, grounded and more realistic feel than some of the other MCU TV series, when the show does look to expand its focus, the visuals can sometimes devolve into a plastic-y, inauthentic-feeling mish-mash of styles, such as in an otherwise effective train sequence.

And though the show does not live and die on its fight scenes as, say the ‘Daredevil’ series did, what is here is also a toss-up. Some, including one that boasts Charlie Cox’s character himself, are extremely effective and well shot, whereas others just don’t work as well.

Related Article: Marvel’s ‘Echo’ Promises a Darker, Grittier and more Violent Direction for the ‘Hawkeye’ Spin-Off

‘Echo’: Performances

Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin in Marvel Studios' 'Echo,' releasing on Hulu and Disney+.

Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin in Marvel Studios’ ‘Echo,’ releasing on Hulu and Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Cox brings the same blend of intensity and vulnerability as in ‘Hawkeye’, making Maya a character you’re happy to follow along with. The writers this time around have given her an entertaining knack for “MacGyvering” up solutions when she’s trapped, such as when she’s being held in the back room of a roller-skating rink.

And there is, of course, Vincent D’Onofrio, who brinks typically hulking menace to Wilson Fisk, AKA the Kingpin. He’s been bringing this character to life for years and while (in the episodes we were sent) he doesn’t have much to do besides seem dangerous, he always brings a noble ferocity to the role.

The new characters (though we glimpsed McClarnon as Maya’s father briefly in ‘Hawkeye’) are largely native color or feel like they come from some version of ‘Fargo’ or ‘Justified’ but add solid presence to the show so it’s not just Maya being badass. The likes of Devery Jacobs (a ‘Reservation Dogs’ veteran) as Maya’s cousin Bonnie all make the character’s hometown feel like something she would want to protect, even if she has been away from them for two decades.

‘Echo’: Final Thoughts

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios' 'Echo,' releasing on Hulu and Disney+.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios’ ‘Echo,’ releasing on Hulu and Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2023. All Rights Reserved.

It never quite escapes the feeling that this was a patch-job for a series that doesn’t quite function the way it should, but ‘Echo’ is certainly better than many feared it might be.

Cox’s scowly anti-hero seems unlikely to show up elsewhere within the MCU, but you’ll have a decent time following her exploits here.

‘Echo’ receives 7 out of 10 stars.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios' 'Echo,' exclusively on Disney+.

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

What’s the story of ‘Echo’?

Following the events chronicled in 2021’s ‘Hawkeye’, ‘Echo’ catches up with Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) as she is pursued by Wilson Fisk’s (Vincent D’Onofrio) criminal empire.

When the journey brings her home, she must confront her own family and legacy.

Who is in ‘Echo’?

The series also stars Chaske Spencer, Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal, Devery Jacobs, Zahn McClarnon and Cody Lightning.

Marvel Studios' 'Echo.'

Marvel Studios’ ‘Echo.’

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