Phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) began a whole new wave of media when the television mini-series, WandaVision, premiered in January 2021. The nine-episode saga ushered in a unique dimension to the MCU, its stories, and its characters. It offered smaller subplots for lesser-utilized characters and opened the door for new characters to be introduced.
The fifth limited television series in the MCU, Hawkeye, gave audiences a glimpse inside the life of Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner; The Hurt Locker) and his lesser-known alter ego, Ronin. It also introduced the world to Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld; Bumblebee) who used her archery skills to help Hawkeye confront his enemies. Crossing paths with Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio; Men In Black) and Maya Lopez/Echo (newcomer Alaqua Cox) the two must try to put an end to the fighting.
Now, knee-deep in phase five, Echo has received her own five-episode spin-off series entitled, appropriately, Echo. After learning who really killed her father, Maya shoots the offender and then continues to commit crimes all over New York. However, when others discover who Kingpin's shooter is, Maya suddenly finds herself public enemy #1 and must flee to the place where she grew up in Oklahoma to ask for her cousin's help.
Vowing revenge for her father's death, Maya targets Kingpin's operation which includes shipping goods and resources from her hometown to a warehouse in New York City. Taking advantage of her knowledge of both places, Maya rigs the cargo train on its way so it eventually explodes upon arrival at the warehouse. Unfortunately, in doing so, Maya puts her family and her home in danger.
Cox, for being a newcomer to the industry, does a good job at playing the role of a tough, streetwise criminal. Born deaf, Cox is also an amputee but has never publicly revealed how she lost her limb. She is Native American and grew up on the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin. Other indigenous cast members include veteran actors Graham Greene (Dances with Wolves), Zahn McClarnon (Doctor Sleep), Tantoo Cardinal (Killers of the Flower Moon), and Chaske Spencer (The Twilight Saga).
Along with the storyline of Maya and her revenge on Kingpin, there is also an underlying folklore of the Native American ancestry, including a goddess-like figure named Tuklo (Dannie McCallum; Day 5) who saved her people and brought them to Earth. Whenever Maya feels forceful and seems to inhabit magical powers it is Tuklo she envisions. In fact, each episode begins with a flashback and some incantation of Tuklo.
As far as Marvel Comics go, Echo is a fairly recent and minor character who often appears in Daredevil stories. Therefore, it will come as no surprise to anyone that Matt Murdoch/Daredevil (Charlie Cox; The Theory of Everything) appears in at least one episode of Echo. We also know that a new Daredevil spin-off is planned.
Echo was slated to originally be eight episodes but when Marvel President Kevin Feige deemed the show "unreleasable", the series was reshot and condensed to five episodes. What they should have done was shelve the whole project since the first three episodes were practically unwatchable and even though the writers, crew, and design teams spent immeasurable hours consulting with the Choctaw Nation regarding their culture, the visuals and plot are cringeworthy.
It is a bold move and definitely admirable for Marvel to take the time to represent the deaf community, amputees, and indigenous people accurately, it is unfortunate that the plot and toned-down effects ruin and negate some of what Marvel was trying to accomplish with Echo.
Marvel and the MCU need to take a step back and regroup with all aspects of their storytelling, and Echo is, unfortunately, another example of "taking in more than one can chew".