On Tuesday, January 9, all five episodes of the tenth installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe series “Echo” were unexpectedly released on Disney+. This is a spinoff of “Hawkeye,” a solo show about one of the Avengers, Clint Barton, which premiered in 2021. It was in that series that viewers first saw Maya Lopez, played by Alaqua Cox, a character seeking revenge for her father’s death. In the review below, we will discuss what sets this project apart from other Marvel series and why it still doesn’t quite save the situation.
Genre: Crime drama, superhero
Directors: Sidney Freeland, Catriona McKenzie
Starring: Alaqua Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio, Chesney Spencer, Tantoo Cardinal, Graham Greene, Zahn McClarnon
Release Year: 2024
Five months after the events of “Hawkeye,” specifically the point-blank shot to Wilson Fisk’s bald head, Maya Lopez returns to her hometown of Tamaga, Oklahoma. However, the girl plans not a triumphant reunion with her family but the takeover of Kingpin’s empire under her control. However, these ambitious plans do not come to fruition, as even after the villain is shot, he, like the famous mustachioed baddie, does not give up.
“Echo” became Marvel’s first series released under the newly created Marvel Spotlight brand. According to one of the heads of the television department at Marvel Studios, Brad Winderbaum, this platform is intended for creating projects focused primarily on characters and their stories. “Similar to how comic book fans don’t need to read ‘The Avengers’ or ‘Fantastic Four’ to enjoy ‘Ghost Rider’ in the Spotlight comics lineup, our audience doesn’t necessarily need to watch other Marvel series to understand what’s happening in Maya’s story,” noted Winderbaum.
Well, the initiative is indeed noble because potentially more serious and grounded projects with an adult rating, not directly related to the main battles in the colorful cinematic universe, can significantly diversify it. In addition, the appropriate gloominess can bring them closer to the best examples of content from Marvel Television for Netflix, such as “Jessica Jones” (2015-2018) or “The Punisher” (2017-2019). But in the case of “Echo,” one can only dream about it for now, as the first pancake has turned out lumpy.
The series starts off lively: after a brief backstory about the tragic childhood of the main heroine, the events move to a time when Maya Lopez, Kingpin’s adopted niece, started working for him. This happened because Fisk is not only an evil genius but also an excellent motivator. The creators immediately played their cards and showed us the main villain in all his unattractive ugliness, provided a cool action scene, and added an extremely pleasant cameo, although it’s hardly a secret which well-known character made an appearance here.
The adult rating and a certain seriousness look appropriate. In Marvel, ordinary people finally bleed after serious injuries, and the number of jokes is reduced to an absolute minimum.
Unfortunately, after the debut episode, the impressions of watching begin to rapidly deteriorate. This is because the main heroine evokes no emotions, and the plot gradually descends into absurdity, which is hard to swallow.
When the character of the incomparable Vincent D’Onofrio fully enters the game, it slightly improves the situation, but that’s not enough. The story of the relationship between the New York crime boss and his adopted niece, almost daughter, seems contrived, and it’s better not to mention Echo’s relationships with her real relatives.
Later on, the initial enthusiasm disappears completely, as the number of action scenes decreases, and the plot about criminal showdowns sharply turns into a not very captivating story about the importance of family and the connection between generations. The abandonment of frivolous superhero antics, which everyone is tired of, is fine, but unfortunately, the alternative approach to the comic book adaptation presented here doesn’t seem to work yet.
There are no complaints about Alaqua Cox, who plays the titular role, a deaf Native American with a prosthetic leg, despite her modest acting experience. Regardless of her limited experience, the actress feels very confident on screen, both in scenes interacting with other actors and in action sequences. Vincent D’Onofrio once again delivers a character with inner deformities, which did not prevent him from becoming a highlight of the show. As for the others, their involvement is extremely secondary.
The questionable culmination does not provide reasons for joy, and overall, the show turned out to be quite mediocre. If Brad Winderbaum emphasized that one doesn’t need to be a great connoisseur of the Marvel universe to watch this series, it’s worth saying that even staunch fans of the monumental film franchise don’t necessarily need to pay attention to “Echo.” Not to mention everyone else.
With “Echo,” Marvel seems to be feeling out a viable direction for its future series projects. However, these attempts to somehow change the situation still do not seem to be successful.