Watch Of The Week: Echo

From a purely Marvel entertainment perspective, Echo is an OK crime series with a glum vibe and almost no superheroics. In other ways, though, this further adventure of Maya Lopez/Echo — the formidable bad-gal Alaqua Cox introduced in the 2021 Hawkeye series — is an appealing creation. It’s Marvel’s first production to focus on and star Native Americans. Additionally, Cox is the first amputee to play one of the studio’s protagonists and the second deaf actor to do so (Lauren Ridloff beat Cox to screens by a few weeks in 2021’s The Eternals).

Simultaneously dropping on the more adult Hulu streaming service, Echo is Marvel’s first Disney+ TV-MA show and has enough language and grotesque violence to earn the mature rating. It also kicks off the studio’s new Spotlight
imprint, which is supposedly going to produce grittier, more character-based and self-contained stories than the
interconnection drunk Marvel Cinematic Universe otherwise offers.

Not so sure about that last bit, though. Echo borrows incidents and characters from Hawkeye and Marvel Netflix series Daredevil, and the main villain here is once again Vincent D’Onofrio’s New York crime boss Kingpin/
Wilson Fisk. But the newer aspects of Echo register in rich, specific ways. Directed by Indigenous filmmakers, Sydney Freeland (Navajo) and Catriona McKenzie (Australian Gunaikurnai), each episode begins with a cleverly conceived vignette involving Maya’s Choctaw forebears.

There are persuasive portraits of contemporary life in Tomaha, Okla., the hometown she flees to after shooting mentor Fisk in the face. Choctaw Nation advisers and Native staff writers made sure the series foregrounds Indigenous characters with an easy naturalism and designs that feel authentic. (This is one Marvel product Killers of the Flower Moon director Martin Scorsese ought not criticize.)

Stunt coordinator Marc Scizak and American Sign Language consultant Douglas Ridloff are Echo’s not-sosecretcreative weapons. The former taught Cox bone-crunching mixed martial arts moves and how to work her prosthetic leg into fights; as a result, Maya’s many action scenes aren’t just the same old choreography. Although Echo’s comic book superpower, the ability to perfectly re-create any physical action she observes in others, is not overtly evident in the early episodes, she’s quick to figure out how to take down any opponent she can see coming at her.

Ridloff’s training of the supporting actors lends its own visual poetry. Maya’s estranged family — regretful, criminally involved Uncle Henry; resentful childhood playmate Bonnie good-natured cousin Biscuits, whom Maya ropes into her dangerous plot against Fisk’s cartel; Maya’s unforgiving grandmother Chula and sweet, inventive Skully, communicate with her via ASL, but each in their own distinct manner. It’s rare to praise a program for the beauty and expressiveness of actors’ handwork, but this is one of the show’s most enchanting elements.

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Boluwatife Adesina is a media writer and the helmer of the Downtown Review page. He’s probably in a cinema near you.

About Author / Boluwatife Adesina

Boluwatife Adesina is a media writer and the helmer of the Downtown Review page. He’s probably in a cinema near you.

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