‘Echo’ is a Reverberation of Past Successes

Marvel miniseries “Echo” is a reverberation of past successes, coming into its own sporadically throughout the series and unclear in its themes.

Created by Marion Dayre, Marvel miniseries “Echo” is a spinoff of 2021’s “Hawkeye.” Regardless of sporadic creativity, the series is a sanitized imitation of a grim narrative.

Maya Lopez, also known as the deaf hero Echo, is waging war against the criminal underworld. After failing to kill her adoptive uncle and kingpin of crime Wilson Fisk, Maya retreated to her Native community to reconnect with her roots — and plan revenge.

Working to dismantle Fisk’s empire, Maya discovers supernatural abilities tied to her Choctaw ancestry. By the series’ end, both her powers and thirst for vengeance are managed, coming into her own as a hero to her community.

Debuting in “Hawkeye,” Alaqua Cox’s performance as Echo is both emotionally authentic and true to the character’s comic depiction. As a deaf and Indigenous person of the Menominee Tribe, her care for the character feels personal. Cox’s willingness to perform her own stunts warrants further praise.

Vincent D’Onofrio returns as Wilson Fisk, a role he solidified in Netflix’s incredible “Daredevil.” D’Onofrio (“Full Metal Jacket,” “Men in Black”) brought his best for a brief stint, embodying his mannerisms and menace from the series.

The duo’s personal moments and tense discussions give the show a gravity that is absent elsewhere in the series.

Altogether, “Echo” is a breakthrough representation of Indigenous and deaf people, but its ability to keep attention falters.

Through its five episodes, the show jarringly wavers from a sluggish to breakneck pace. The pilot alone juggles Maya’s origin, a “Hawkeye” recap and an attempt to give the show a glimpse of establishment. 

The series is simultaneously condensed and stretched. Despite its brevity, it lingers on uneventful side-stories while rushing its main plot. “Echo” would have been better served as a short film, à la “Werewolf by Night” or “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special,” to streamline itself.

The pilot attempts to meet halfway for those who have seen “Hawkeye” and those who haven’t. Retreaded scenes from the previous show are numerous but briskly cut and lacking cohesion for a new viewer. The first episode recaps a prior show with underwritten characters — a lack of focus ambivalent to the rest of the series.

A longer show would benefit from building a supporting cast’s relationships — a luxury “Echo” can’t afford. Too many scenes are related to townsfolk whose only purpose is comic relief, while Maya’s extended family distracts from the show’s main protagonist and antagonist. 

Maya is motivated by the death of her parents. While important to the character, the viewer doesn’t have enough time to develop sympathy for Maya’s grief. Fisk nearly died at the end of “Hawkeye,” but his recovery is glossed over and his motivations never dwelled on.

The show bills itself as a riveting conflict between two surrogate family members split by betrayal, but parts of the whole narrative are incomplete.

“Echo” only finds narrative inspiration when diving into its Choctaw heritage, from mythical origins to the American frontier. These sequences are the series’ most creative, but their placement is forced, featuring storylines disconnected from the main plot.

The flashbacks are meant to illustrate Maya’s connection to the other Choctaw women with her powers. The process, explanation and usage of her abilities are never explained outside of glowing hands, healing others and potential sharpshooting.

Comic creators David Mack and Joe Quesada envisioned Maya as an inverse to the blind Daredevil — a deaf martial artist. Maya can already dominate fights even in the show, making her added abilities both unnecessary and vague given their refreshing inspirations.

The biggest fault of “Echo” is failing to live up to its marketing. Despite teasing a series rated TV-MA and bringing back the spirit of the Netflix-Marvel catalog, the trailers themselves harbor all the best action.

The fight scenes barely meet the intensity of “Daredevil” or even “Iron Fist,” though Daredevil himself briefly appears in the pilot. Moments of intensity are interspersed through the series but are both underwhelming and rare.

On the whole, “Echo” is a PG-13 affair with more forced comedy than gritty atmosphere.

There’s a lot to celebrate about “Echo” for its strides in diversity, enjoyable action and the palpable passion of its leads. However, its lack of focus results in a show echoing to be something better.

“Echo” is now streaming on Disney+.

Featured image courtesy of Disney+

Brendan Parr

Brendan Parr