Echo review – Street-level MCU fails to live up to the promise.
For years now, fans of the MCU have been calling out for a return to the gritty, street-level storytelling that was executed so well in Netflix shows such as Daredevil and The Punisher. With how they’ve utilised Spider-Man so far in the MCU, he hasn’t been the character to do so, even if he feels most suited to it all. It wasn’t until the Hawkeye series that it felt they were making the right moves, introducing Maya Lopez as the leader of the Tracksuit Mafia, who now has her series in the form of Echo.
Following the events of Hawkeye in New York City, Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) is being pursued by Wilson Fisk’s (Vincent D’Onofrio) organization, leading her to return to her hometown in Oklahoma, where she must come to terms with her past, reconnect with her Native American roots, and embrace her family and community.
The Marvel Spotlight banner was introduced to focus on grounded, character-driven stories. Echo, the first series under this particular banner, delivers exactly that, even if the result is a bit of a mixed bag. The titular character was a fine addition to Hawkeye, and this series continues her story without impacting the wider MCU lore. At only five episodes long, it both felt like not long enough to tell a story and too long a series for this particular character, leaving me feeling a bit conflicted as it finished. I mostly liked what I saw, but was there enough? What could they add, though? All these thoughts ran through my head as it concluded, making me settle on the show as fine but definitely could have been better.
One aspect of the series that drew me in was the Native American roots that Maya connects with on her journey throughout. The origins of the Choctaw are revealed and played into several action sequences, culminating in a memorable showdown between Maya and Wilson Fisk. It’s usually done well when Marvel takes the time to give characters like this a deeper background. It’s just a bit disappointing that it’s combined with a lot of throwaway exposition that clutters the writing, giving the series an uneven feeling.
The series delivers plenty of decent action sequences, with Maya taking on Fisk’s men in a roller skate rink arguably the highlight, with an encounter with Daredevil a close second. Yes, he’s in the show, but don’t get too excited as it’s only a fleeting visit, one that whets the appetite for his series arriving soon in the MCU mind. They leaned heavily into the mature rating of the show, and while there are some violent scenes, it left me feeling a bit short-changed by not making the most of the rating. If you’re going to make such a big deal about it in the marketing, ensure you deliver the final product.
Coming to the performances, Alaqua Cox brings so much presence to the role of Maya Lopez/Echo that she elevates a fairly basic screenplay. The physical side of the performance, too, should be admired, with Cox bringing ferocity and emotion into the fight sequences seamlessly. The supporting cast plays their part, but none do much to stand out, except for Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk. He’s the epitome of perfect casting, and his scenes here only excite me to see him again in the MCU – as much as Daredevil. It’s the subtlety that D’Onofrio brings to the rage that makes his performance so unsettling, and if he’s to be the big bad of the street-level MCU, then we are in for one hell of a ride.
While left feeling slightly disappointed by Echo after the truly promising trailer they dropped for it, the show is at its best when connecting the titular character with her Native American roots. Whether we see Maya Lopez again in the MCU is anyone’s guess. Still, I wouldn’t be opposed to it – I can only imagine it being part of an ensemble show, not another solo series on television.