Echo is a Marvel character origin story, but this isn’t the usual superhero origin story. Echo, or Maya Lopez, is played by Alaqua Cox. Alaqua Cox is everything in her real life that Maya is. She’s a Native American, ASL using deaf woman with a prosthetic leg. Maya was introduced into the Marvel cinematic universe in Hawkeye. A few minutes of her interaction with Jeremy Renner’s character in Hawkeye are shown in Echo. It’s the scene where she learns that Kingpin killed her father.
Maya lived in New York City working for mobster Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio). He treated her like family and told her he was the only person she could trust. After her father’s (Zahn McClarnon) death and an injury from a bullet wound, Maya jumps on her motorcycle and drives back home to Oklahoma and her Choctaw relatives. She needs to recover from her wound, but she also has a plan to get revenge on Fisk.
Maya brings trouble to her small peaceful hometown. But her family and friends rally round her. Chula (Tantoo Cardinal) is her grandmother. The two have been estranged since her mother’s death because Chula blamed her father for what happened. Skully (Graham Greene) runs a pawnshop. He was formerly Chula’s partner.
Maya’s cousin Henry (Chaske Spencer) runs a skating rink. He’s still connected to the Fisk enterprises, but tries to keep that aspect of his life from away from his Oklahoma home. Maya’s cousin Biscuits (Cody Lightning) will do anything for her, including chase a train across open country in a pickup.
Maya’s childhood best friend and cousin Bonnie (Devery Jacobs) still lives there. She works for the fire department. Maya is angry with her because of the way they were separated as children. It wasn’t actually Bonnie’s doing but in her childhood memories it felt that way.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that every actor I’ve mentioned (except Vincent D’Onofrio) are Native Americans. That authenticity is part of what makes this a special kind of origin story. The imagery, the music, and the costumes are all correctly representative of the Choctaw people. Some aspects of the imagery were so beautiful they gave me goosebumps, especially in the final episode at the powwow.
When Maya got home, she learned something about her past. Everything she’d been told by Fisk was not true. She began to experience what her grandmother called echoes of all her strong, cunning, strategic women ancestors. They came to help her when she needed it. Her heritage could be traced back to the first Choctaw woman. She derived strength from that ancestral lineage. The ancestors helped her do what she needed to be free of the demons of anger and rage that had troubled her all her life.
There were well done action and fight scenes, of course. This is Marvel we’re talking about. But there was a deep sense of family, love, native traditions and mythology that echoed throughout. The series was directed by Sydney Freeland and Catriona McKenzie. It’s streaming on Disney+ and Hulu. Even if you’re not a big superhero fan, I think this series is worth watching.