Disney+’s ECHO Starts Off Rocky But Slowly Gains Traction

Echo Marvel Cinematic Universe
Image via Marvel Studios.

Most of the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have powers derived from crazy super-science or similar standard comic book conventions. Maya Lopez, aka Echo, doesn’t seem to. Although deaf and mute, she is a highly-trained martial artist who used to work for the crimelord Kingpin until her father was murdered by her boss and she escaped from New York City and his clutches. That is the setup for Echo, the latest Disney+ offering to the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe that is debuting on Disney+ this evening.

Disney made available to critics the first three episode of the five-part miniseries and the results are somewhat mixed.

Echo debuts under the new Marvel Spotlight banner, a labeling that Marvel hopes will indicate to viewers that it does not have the excessive ties to the ever growing continuity of the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is a great idea in theory. However, it feels like they are fibbing here a bit. The opening half-hour of the first episode’s 49-minute runtime is basically one long montage, starting with them showing us how Maya’s mother was killed when Maya was a little girl to how she came to be in the situation we see her at the end of the 2021 Hawkeye series where she was introduced to viewers. A good portion of this montage is made up of footage previously seen in that series. Further compounding things, is the fact that much of it is very clumsily edited together. The individual scenes don’t flow from one to the next leaving the whole thing feeling very chunky and hastily cobbled together.

Fortunately, the series does pick up and becomes a little bit more cohesive once we get to the second and third episodes. Maya has returned to the small Oklahoma town she was born in and begins to put into motion her plan for revenge against Kingpin. And in those first few steps of that journey for her we do a couple of fun action sequences. The show is much more grounded, which makes it a bit easier to connect with the characters. It’s not as grim and gritty as the Netflix Marvel series Daredevil, the series from which some of this show’s ongoing character motivations and storylines can be traced. Echo is slightly lighter in tone than its progenitor.

Reportedly, there were issues with the production of the show, necessitating a trimming down of the number of episodes that were planned, as well as some reshooting to help smooth out what portions they were keeping for the final product. It remains to be seen how much truth or exaggeration there were in those reports, but the overall end product here does suggest that there were a problems during production. Hopefully the news that Marvel was going to go to a more traditional showrunner lead of production of their television series will alleviate some of these issues for them in future projects. But it’s a shame that Echo was impacted in this way. Star Alaqua Cox Gives a good performance here, especially considering it’s entirely nonverbal, and very much holds her own against a cast of mostly more seasoned actors.

Echo also seems to want to dip into some Choctaw Indian folklore that makes up Maya’s heritage and have that feed into the story, which is an interesting device that is set up the first three episodes that were available to critics. There is also some examination of modern Native American life which outside of the recent Reservation Dogs and the 2019 mystery series Stumptown, we have not seen any of in regular television. It remains to be seen how any of this will get paid off and the remaining two episodes, if indeed, even does. But at least the low stakes action here is a nice change of pace from the constant barrage of world-ending disasters of the week.

Avatar für Rich Drees
About Rich Drees 7173 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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