Echo is the first installment from the new Marvel Spotlight section of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), focusing on character development rather than connecting to the wider MCU.
The show features exhilarating and violent combat sequences, reminiscent of the fight scenes in Daredevil.
However, the slow-paced storytelling style and forced emotional moments weigh down the show, making it feel like not much happens by the end of the third episode.
Alaqua Cox’s Maya Lopez debuted in 2021’s Hawkeye series, but she’s back to lead her own show in Echo. As the first instalment from the new Marvel Spotlight section of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), this shows get back to basics in the same way that the Marvel’s Netflix shows did with Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist. It’s meant to be more character-focused and less about connecting to the wider MCU and countless other stories. While it achieves its mission to a certain extent, there’s still something holding back Echo from being more than just another Marvel show.
After popping Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) in the head in Hawkeye, Maya returns to her hometown. She’s still boiling with rage over the events from before and she needs to let go in order to move on. However, Kingpin isn’t quite as dead and buried as she thought he was, so she needs to watch her back because he’s not the kind of guy to let things go.
While Hawkeye revealed important aspects of Maya’s past, Echo fills in the majority of the blanks, especially in the first episode that plays out like a history lesson about the character. Even though it commits the cardinal sin of exposition dumping through flashbacks, it’s forgiven largely thanks to the pulsating action on display. Viewers who loved the exhilarating and innovative fight scenes in Daredevil are in for a treat, as Maya proves her mettle in equally awesome and violent combat sequences.
That becomes a recurring theme throughout the show, however, as Echo feels weighed down by its slow-paced storytelling style and forced emotional moments, but it comes to life when the action hits. Considering the miniseries only consists of five episodes, it doesn’t feel like much happens by the end of the third chapter. Sure, the audience finds out more about the character’s past and watches her kick butt a few times, but there’s not much meat on the bones of her current adventure. If it weren’t for the high-quality action scene, it’s tough to stay invested in this journey.
It’s evident the Marvel Spotlight banner is taking more influence from Marvel’s Netflix series than the efforts on Disney+. There’s a mature approach to the storytelling and freeness in the violence on display as it gets back to an era in which a show’s rating isn’t holding back the true nature of the character. The MCU isn’t trying to sell toys or lunch boxes through a series like Echo, as it lets showrunner Marion Dayre tell the story she envisions without the restrictions of PG-13 television. In fact, Alaqua Cox’s Maya feels like a completely different character on this show than what she was in Hawkeye – there’s a depth and three-dimensional quality to her that goes beyond a character looking for revenge because the Kingpin deceived her and killed her father.
Unfortunately, it still falls into the pitfalls and traps of the current MCU. There’s a blandness and safeness to the storytelling that doesn’t push the genre forward beyond a few bright moments. Unlike shows like Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones – which all felt fresh upon arrival – Echo does come across as yet another superhero show in an endless stream of them. There was an opportunity to take more creative risks and swing for the fences, but the show chooses the tried-and-tested path rather than going big.
Is Echo worth watching?
The MCU is at a major crossroads. It’s only the diehards who are sticking along for the ride at this point as the average fan lost interest in the stories a while back. Echo isn’t exactly the show that’s going to win them back either as it fails to deliver an absolute must-watch series. It’s a step in the right direction, for sure, but not at the level to captivate.
The origin story of Echo revisits Maya Lopez, whose ruthless behavior in New York City catches up with her in her hometown. She 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.
Creator: Marion Dayre
Cast: Alaqua Cox, Chaske Spencer, Tantoo Cardinal, Devery Jacobs, Cody Lightning, Graham Greene and Zahn McClarnon
Genre: Superhero, Action, Drama
Number of Seasons: 1
Streaming Service: Disney+
Echo may not be the Marvel show that will captivate audiences fully, as it struggles to provide a series that is compellingly unmissable.
Sergio Pereira is a prolific and recognised journalist and writer from Johannesburg, South Africa. His expertise encompasses the topics of comic books, film, television, and video games. For over 16 years, he has built up his reputation and knowledge in entertainment journalism by writing for and learning from the world's largest publications.
Sergio is also an accredited Rotten Tomatoes reviewer and has interviewed numerous celebrities, such as Andy Serkis, Ben Barnes, Idris Elba, Letitia Wright and Frank Miller. He is the author of the highly rated fantasy comedy novel The Not-So-Grim Reaper and numerous short stories. In addition, he is the co-writer of the South African crime drama film The Lifesaver. As a regular columnist, he contributes to Looper, Grunge, Screen Rant, Ranker, CBR, SYFY WIRE, IGN Africa, Thought Catalog and Fortress of Solitude.
For Sergio, all he wants in life is to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles eclipse the Justice League as the greatest heroes of all time. Then, he will sleep peacefully.