Echo Season 1 Review: Messy Marvel TV Is Back

2024 is off to a rough start for Marvel with Echo, the first MCU show designed for mature audiences.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios' Echo, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2023. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Chuck Zlotnick | Marvel

This review contains major spoilers for all five episodes of Echo.

In 2021, Marvel Studios introduced the character of Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) in Hawkeye. Lopez was the complex and violent right hand of New York crime lord Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), but towards the end of that miniseries she came to realize that Fisk was behind the murder of her father, so she cornered him in a back street and shot him in the head.

After so decisively confronting Kingpin and freeing herself from his grip, you might wonder why both Cox and D’Onofrio are back in the five-episode spinoff series, Echo. The answer is that Maya apparently needed to confront Kingpin again and free herself from his grip, but this time in a more unsatisfying way than before. Marvel, I’m losing my mind.

Set a meal or two after the events of Hawkeye, Echo finds Maya returning to her hometown in Oklahoma, where she must deal with some estranged family drama and reconnect with her Choctaw roots to finally deal with Kingpin (again), who is of course very much not dead from being shot point blank in the head, because Kingpin. The first of the show’s five episodes, “Chafa”, proves to be the most messy, with footage from Hawkeye spliced between jarring flashbacks, a brawl with Daredevil (also a flashback), and scenes of Maya in the present arriving on her motorcycle to find that not much has changed since she first skipped town for New York with her dad (Zahn McClarnon, currently leading the vastly superior Dark Winds on AMC).

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Maya doesn’t really have a solid or interesting plan when she returns home, and neither does the series. The next two episodes coast by as Echo resists mending broken fences with her family and tries to disrupt Fisk’s criminal operation while we wait for him to eventually show up with a sore eye and a grudge. When the meandering story eventually does put the terrific Cox and D’Onofrio back together, you finally get the electricity you’d want from the characters, but try as they might neither of them are able to sell the poorly-written dialogue they have to work with, even in these key scenes. I lost count of the amount of times Fisk started a new plea to his beloved protégée with “Maya, you and I…” but it was enough to make me realize I’d started clenching my jaw.

It’s a mess, but as the series stumbled along I hoped that it might ultimately succeed by letting Echo be Echo. Maya Lopez is, after all, a genuinely great Marvel character, and she served to be one of the standout introductions in the MCU’s wildly uneven Phase 4. Commanding, brutal, and in control, Echo shines when she gets to show off her street-level combat skills and unique cunning, much like Marvel’s other gritty East Coast heroes and antiheroes. But after the show serves up a couple of brief-but-impressive fight scenes, the biggest misfire of the series arguably arrives with the way Maya is finally able to escape Kingpin’s wrath.

Perhaps unsurprisingly if this isn’t your first Marvel rodeo, it’s all down to her wielding some newly-imbued “special glowy powers”, but since “special glowy powers” aren’t at the heart of what made Echo get her own spinoff show in the first place, their sudden implementation feels somewhat misguided here in what was promised to be a more grounded MCU story. These powers may tap into her fascinating heritage and give Echo a new spin, but they also file off the natural, razor-sharp edge that the character gained spring-boarding from her powerhouse appearance in Hawkeye, and it all makes for a fluffy, listless ending – when the combined disruption of spiritual healing and a monster truck that comes out of nowhere are your thrilling conclusion, it’s hard not to feel underwhelmed.

To see a gritty series about Echo flounder this badly kinda sucks. The series did cast some great actors to orbit Cox, including Tantoo Cardinal, Graham Greene, and Chaske Spencer, but even with a strong cast and an admirable desire to tell a Choctaw tale in the MCU, there’s not enough here to flesh out five episodes. This final version of Echo, rumored to have undergone major reshoots, is a TV movie at best. Perhaps trimmed down to that length it might have turned out alright. As it stands, the MCU’s first foray into the darker, more Netflix-y vibe of Marvel street-level storytelling is a swing and a miss.


2 out of 5