She’s deaf! She’s indigenous! She’s an amputee! She’s also a psychopath who put her entire family and the citizens of her hometown at risk!
This is the best way for anyone with common sense to describe Echo in less than twenty seconds. After watching the five episode series put out by Marvel Studios, I was left scratching my head. I could do nothing but wonder who thought this show was a good idea.
A formidable foe and enigmatic villain who first appeared in Hawkeye was taken and inserted into a self-righteous, aimless, boring series with no moral compass. The show ultimately winds up being pointless.
The Decline Of Echo From “Hawkeye” Hurt The Show
In Hawkeye Maya Lopez (Echo) was a really good antagonist. She was a silent, deadly enforcer for Kingpin. She had a vendetta against Hawkeye/Ronin, who killed her father. Her scenes were full of ruthless efficiency and great fight choreography. Hawkeye was a really fun show to watch and she contributed greatly to what made the show so good.
Part of the reason that the character worked was that the showrunners seemed to understand that Alaqua Cox lacked experience in the acting department. Much like Patty Jenkin’s approach with Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman, the showrunners let the experienced actors take the lead and carry Cox through her scenes without making her look inept on screen.
Unfortunately, Hailee Steinfeld and Jeremy Renner weren’t in the show to guide the narrative. Vincent D’Onofrio had very little screen time in the show, so he was of no use. The show rested entirely on Alaqua Cox’s shoulders, and she simply did not have the skill as an actress to carry it herself.
Echo Became Unlikeable As A Result.
Kevin Feige’s hat and lead director Sydney Freeland marketed the character as an anti-hero. Echo is still very much a villain in this series. She manipulates her family and friends into dangerous situations. She is still very much a part of the criminal underworld. I would also like to point out that her story isn’t a redemption arc. Her endgame is not the same endgame as that of Frank Castle, where he takes on the criminal underworld to destroy it.
There is even a scene where a young Maya Lopez randomly kills a bird for no reason and lies to her mother about it. They tried to work a life lesson into the entire sequence, but I was just put off by the way the mother accepts this example of disturbing behavior in the same manner as a child breaking a lamp or stealing from the cookie jar.
Her endgame is to destroy Kingpin so that she can start her own criminal empire. This isn’t exactly somebody that a logical viewer would necessarily feel comfortable rooting for. What we end up getting as a result, is a bait and switch in which Sydney Freeland TELLS us to root for a character because she is indigenous and disabled.
In reality, the viewer is left to pick the lesser of two evils.
The Writers Couldn’t Be Bothered To Research How A Car Crash Works.
We come to find that Echo loses her leg in a car crash that killed her mother. It has the potential to be a very sad story, except for the way that the character loses her leg defies all logic and ends up being comical to anyone who understands how cars actually work.
The pickup truck that Echo was riding in got hit from the side. Somehow, a large shard of glass broke off of the windshield and hit Echo’s leg with enough force to stay intact and shoot through her shin bone.
How nobody in that writer’s room had the knowledge to bring up the fact that car windows are made of tempered glass is beyond me. Automobiles have been around since the late 19th century. There have been thousands of auto accidents since then. A simple google search would have proven this plot point to be wrong.
Despite all of the logical and believable ways for somebody to lose a leg, the writers settled on this plot point, and Sydney Freeland signed off on it.
The Side Characters Were Underdeveloped
Despite Maya Lopez being gone for over 20 years, we are greeted by her family and they are introduced to the audience as if we already knew who they are. She shows up to her uncle’s roller rink and acts as if she grew up there.
Then we meet a character named “Biscuit”. Biscuit is meant to be the comedic relief of the show. In reality he ends up being Marvel’s version of Jar Jar Binks. Nobody has a backstory save for Chula, Echo’s estranged Grandmother. However, we don’t witness her background until late in the series. By that point, I stopped caring.
The only side character that I found to be enjoyable was Skully, a grandfather figure played by veteran actor Graham Greene. He is charismatic, funny and speaks with wisdom. Sadly, he is underused in the show.
The Dialogue Was All Over The Place
One of the main problems I found with the show was that they couldn’t pick a lane with the dialogue. I understand that the creators of the show took pride in the representation of the deaf community, but unlike Hawkeye where Echo’s scenes containing dialogue were executed well, and maintained the show’s pace; Echo is all over the place. There are scenes where American Sign Language (ASL) is used without subtitles.
There are scenes where subtitles are used. There are scenes where the characters talk along with their use of ASL at an annoyingly slow pace. Audio cuts out in some scenes so we can’t hear dialogue, again with no subtitles. If you can’t lip read, you don’t know what is being said.
There was even a flashback scene involving the Choctaw law enforcement group known as The LightHorsemen. It was an action packed scene, but for some reason Sydney Freeland decided to do the sequence in the style of an old timey silent film. This totally takes the viewer out of what was actually a decently shot sequence and makes the scene more comical than anything else.
The heavy focus on the ASL and the inability to pick a method in which to use it effectively destroyed the pacing of the show.
Representation Matters, When It’s Convenient.
It is worth noting that one of the major talking points for Sydney Freeland in regard to this show was an emphasis on representation. Which is why I am confused as to why Freeland decided to change Echo’s Native American heritage to being a member of the Choctaw tribe as opposed to the character’s original heritage as a member of the Cheyenne Nation.
Freeland says that this change was made to make the story “more authentic”. I find this to be fairly offensive. The creators of this show ran a campaign that ran heavy on diversity and representation. Yet, in the same breath they say that the Cheyenne Nation was not authentic enough to be part of their story.
If I was a member of the Cheyenne Nation, I would take umbrage with this.
What I Would Have Done
Sydney Freeland dismissed Echo’s original powers as “lame” (an interesting choice of words considering the character she put on screen only has one leg). Echo’s powers in the comics are actually pretty cool as she can duplicate any physical action she sees. While it isn’t exactly original, and is very similar to the powers wielded by Taskmaster, it’s still a cooler power than being able to give a seventy year old woman and her out of shape cousin the ability to defeat fully armed, well-trained mercenaries.
While that scene had me crying with laughter, I don’t think that was the intended result. She also had the ability to make Kingpin cry which was a weird flex. She spent five episodes trying to kill him, then she just makes him cry and walks away.
I would have kept her original powers. To bring more emotion to the story, her father’s death scene would have been as meaningful on screen as it was in the comic. In the comic, Kingpin personally kills her father. He then honors his dying wish that Kingpin raise Maya as his own.
Maya finds her father and he leaves a bloody handprint on her face which became a trademark for the character and would have looked awesome on screen.
I would have made the show a power struggle in the criminal underworld while Kingpin was recovering from his wounds. This would allow Echo to systematically attack Kingpin’s operation and Kevin Feige’s hat would be able to introduce Kingpin’s son: The Rose as her foil.
This would allow the show to competently tie into the timeline of both Dare Devil and The Punisher and you could have had three really good shows that play off of each other.
Instead, you ended up with a show that Marvel Studios didn’t even want to release. It is a waste of a good character and all we could do is wonder what could have been.
I found the show as a whole to be a muddled, uninteresting, slowly paced mess. Sydney Freeland took a mysterious character from one of the best shows in the MCU library and completely nerfed her. The creators of the show were so focused on representation, they forgot to tell a good story.
This led to the audience watching the story of a terrible person who doesn’t care about anything or anyone. She almost gets the people that love her killed and there was no sign of regret or remorse on her part. Why am I supposed to root for this person?
The thing that I find to be the most egregious about the whole show is that it has no moral compass. She comes to town, almost gets hundreds of people killed and just gets away with it.
No lesson was learned. There were no consequences. She just shows up to Sunday dinner as if nothing happened.
If this is the direction that Marvel Studios insists on going, then I’m getting off at the next exit.
What do you think, GNN Fans? Sound off in the comments below and let your voices be heard!
Thank You for reading! When I am not writing I enjoy spending time with my wife Barbara, my four year old daughter Frances, and my loyal hound Marbles. For more hot takes, follow me here and on our brand new YouTube channel. You can also check out more of my content on my author’s page.
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