‘ECHO’ Review | Maya Lopez Deserves Better

Marvel Studios is a Hollywood powerhouse, but it’s hit a rough patch since the release of Avengers: Endgame. There have been a few diamonds in the rough, such as Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Loki season two, but Marvel’s track record isn’t as pristine as it once was. It’s rumored that much of this downward spiral is due to former Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, demanding an increase in Marvel’s output. Unfortunately, that influence will still be felt for at least another year, which includes the latest Disney Plus series, Echo.

The review embargo for Echo was later than any other Marvel Studios project, which hints at Marvel knowing this wouldn’t be well-received. After viewing the first three episodes of the five-episode series, it’s clear why the review embargo was so late. While things could potentially change in the last two episodes, so far Echo is easily one of the least compelling Marvel shows on Disney Plus.

Picking up where Hawkeye left off, Echo follows Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) as she heads home to presumably avoid any trouble after her last encounter with Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio). If you haven’t seen Hawkeye, the first episode of Echo covers that series from Maya’s viewpoint, catching the audience up on what’s going on.

As Marvel’s first series falling under the new Spotlight banner, Echo is supposed to be something audiences can view without needing to catch up on a decade of MCU storylines. This retread of Hawkeye falls in line with the Spotlight banner, but it also makes the series far less compelling.

Alaqua Cox, charlie cox, Echo, marvel studios, Vincent D'Onofrio

Marvel has done very little to make Maya Lopez a compelling character, especially outside of the Hawkeye series, so without an attachment to the greater MCU there’s nothing to keep the audience invested. The first few episodes of Echo have some decent action sequences, but it was still difficult to work up the motivation to continue watching in order to write this review. Even the TV-MA rating didn’t factor into the first three episodes much, and added very little to the proceedings.

With Maya Lopez being a deaf superhero, most of the dialogue in Echo is subtitled. As someone who regularly watches subtitled anime, this didn’t negatively impact the experience, but it does slow down the dialogue scenes, and makes the episodes feel longer than they are. This wasn’t an issue in Hawkeye, but with Maya as the main character in Echo, it has a bigger impact. It’s an odd choice to have every conversation with Maya be subtitled in both directions, especially given that she should be able to read lips, allowing the creatives to speed up the conversations as needed.

Where Echo comes up short is in the stakes. Most of the series takes place in a small town in Oklahoma, and only deals with the people who live there. These are people that have never appeared in the MCU, and are just normal people. With no emotional connection to these people, it’s difficult to care about what’s happening. It doesn’t help that it’s not well-written, despite respectable performances from Alaqua Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio.

Comparatively speaking, no one asked for a Guardians of the Galaxy film, but Marvel was able to make it extremely entertaining, building up the ensemble cast to create characters people were interested in. That isn’t the case with Echo. While it will be interesting to see if Maya shows up in Daredevil: Born Again, or other future MCU productions, her standalone series needed a better writing staff.

In comparison, a similar episode of What If season two that focused on the Mohawk Native American culture was far more compelling, due almost entirely to superior writing. Echo is credited with seven writers across five episodes, with five of those writers having questionable filmographies. There were also more episodes at one point in time before one was cut, so it seems as though there was some turmoil behind the scenes. Hopefully Alaqua Cox will get to portray Echo again in the future, with better writing aiding the experience.

About Echo

Synopsis: Maya Lopez must face her past, reconnect with her Native American roots and embrace the meaning of family and community if she ever hopes to move forward.

Directors: Catriona McKenzie, Sydney Freeland

Writers: Marion Dayre, Josh Feldman, Steven Judd, Ken Kristensen, Ellen Morton, Amy Rardin, Chantelle Wells

Stars: Alaqua Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio, Chaske Spencer, Cody Lightning, Tantoo Cardinal, Charlie Cox

Number of Episodes: 5

Average Runtime: 40 Minutes

Rated: TV-MA

Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.

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