It’s been some time since Marvel were producing hit after hit to mostly critical acclaim. There’s been the odd piece of quality (Loki, Shang-Chi, Guardians of the Galaxy 3) but they seem lost amongst uninspiring stories (Ant-Man: Quantumania, Eternals, Thor: Love and Thunder). I don’t know of anyone who asked for or wanted a series based on Echo, a side character from the underrated Hawkeye show, but I have to admit, now it’s here, I’m glad someone made that big call.
Following the events of Hawkeye, Echo flashes back to show us the story of the deaf Choctaw girl, Maya, who lost her leg in the car crash that killed her mother. Forced to move away with her father, she trained hard to defend herself and her dad’s criminal ways introduced her to the man who would become her uncle, the always amazing Vincent D’Onofrio as the Kingpin. Having shot Kingpin in the eye at the end of the previous series, Echo is about this Native American young woman returning to her home and family and tearing down the Kingpin’s empire whilst defending those she loves.
Whilst I originally wasn’t interested in an Echo series, like any other fan of grimdark, I was attracted by the promise of street level violence in the Marvel world that hasn’t been seen on Disney Plus. Harking back to the brilliant Daredevil series from Netflix, Echo has some incredibly hard-hitting fight scenes all brutal enough to pull in fans who enjoy watching the bloody and brutal fights scenes from series like Daredevil. Whilst the violence doesn’t go anywhere near a show like The Boys, it does make Echo feel different to the rest of the output from Marvel and Disney’s streaming platform. There are less pointless jokes and quips as Maya stoically makes her plans for revenge and reconciles with her family whilst learning from her Native American ancestors. The threat from D’Onofiro’s brilliant Kingpin feels real and adds a sense of dfanger every time he is on screen or his name is mentioned. It is great to see more of his story and if Marvel know what’s best for them, they will use this character more and pit him against Spiderman and Dardevil in the future. This is a street level Thanos and I want more!
Whilst Echo isn’t as dark as I wanted to be, it has its moments and I felt pulled into the story of a girl who has faced adversity all her life and felt outcast by those who should have cared about her the most. Maya learns from, and gains power from those in her past and grows throughout the 5-episode series and I’m all for more Native American culture deaf actors in mainstream films and TV shows. The bond on screen between Maya and her family stands out and had me rooting for them whilst fearing for their safety as I grew to care for eaxch of them.
An interesting tale with characters not often seen on screen in big-budget shows, Echo is a tale of revenge and family that may not stay in your mind forever but will certainly echo in your mind as a unique tale well worth your time. The characters are interesting and engaging, the story simple and straightforward, and the action is darker and harder hitting than anything else in the Marvel Universe. Echo is an unexpected delight with a villain who needs to cast a dark shadow over more than this short series.