Starring: Alaqua Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio, Chaske Spencer, Graham Greene, Devery Jacobs, Cody Lightning, and Tantoo Cardinal
Creators: Joe Quesada and David Mack
Echo’s five gritty and intense episodes really let us connect with Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox), her story, and her ancestors. The indigenous cultural influences are the show’s biggest strength, along with great sound design and amazing stunt choreography. However, its comic-book aspects, while well connected to the story, are tonally disconnected to those more grounded facets, creating off-kilter pacing issues enroute to a lackluster finale. In the end, I left Echo wanting more of Maya, but also hoping that the MCU will get Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin 100% right one day. Also, shoutout to Graham Greene for just always being awesome.
The thing that made Netflix’s Daredevil and The Punisher great was more than just the violence, which is why Disney’s attempt to replicate it with Echo isn’t quite there. There are aspects of that grittiness, sure, but it mostly feels like a cheap imitation. Beyond that, the lead character (Alaqua Cox's Maya) is pretty unlikeable, so I couldn’t get emotionally invested in the moments I was meant to. Thankfully, there are some highlights including strong supporting turns from Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal, and the return of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin. Plus, at only five episodes, Echo is an easy watch, but also one of Marvel’s more forgettable.
Although there are things I liked about Echo, including a relatively successful return to Marvel’s Netflix-era grittiness, a couple of fight scenes, and the return of Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio), it’s the MCU’s most yawn-inducing series yet. I suppose that’s better than being outright bad (or, as reports indicated, “unreleasable”), but even if there are moments of mild enjoyment, Echo is messily edited, poorly plotted, and terribly paced. Alaqua Cox does well when called upon to kick ass, but she’s hard to connect with in the quieter moments because of her permanent “badasses don’t emote” scowl. A disconnected character dealing with underdeveloped (and uninteresting) stakes? Why bother?
Compared to other Marvel series, Echo has a darker, grittier tone, featuring hard-hitting action sequences, a grounded story, and much-needed representation. In light of this, it’s a slow watch and occasionally extremely dull. The main character Maya (Alaqua Cox) completely lacks empathy, and the challenges she faces during the show’s five-episode arc seem trivial and small. This is where the plot falls flat. But even though I found this spotlight series to be mediocre, there might be enough for other viewers to find it engaging.
Echo's whole idea of being the MCU's first foray into adult territory feels like nothing more than a distraction from the fact that the show has nothing going for it otherwise. The action can be cool and brutal, but its slow-building character writing is weak and lacks any real connection to our protagonist despite a compelling performance from Alaqua Cox and the supporting cast, namely Tantoo Cardinal. Echo feels like it's trying too hard to replicate what made Daredevil so popular, and in the process, being sorely mistaken on what made it good in the first place.