Marvel’s Newest Superhero Echo Brings Native Representation to the MCU
Marvel Studios is expanding its cinematic universe with the addition of a brand new Disney+ series focused on the deaf Indigenous superhero Maya “Echo” Lopez. Portrayed by deaf Cheyenne and Blackfeet actress Alaqua Cox, Echo brings much-needed Native American representation to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) while highlighting an array of social issues.
Who is Echo?
Echo, whose real name is Maya Lopez, is a stoic and mysterious character who must confront her past crimes as the enforcer for the criminal organization known as the Tracksuit Mafia. After being left for dead, Maya returns to her hometown where she reconnects with her Native roots and comes to terms with the meaning of community and family.
The origin story penned by screenwriter Marion Dayre will follow Maya’s ruthless exploits in New York City leading up to the climatic events of 2021’s Hawkeye series on Disney+. As an athletic prodigy with photographic reflexes, Echo has spent her life using her gifts as a tool of deception and violence. However, her homecoming to the sovereign territory of the Cheyenne Nation forces her to embrace her true identity.
|Action-adventure, Crime, Superhero
|January 9, 2024
|Maya “Echo” Lopez (played by Alaqua Cox)
|Athletic prodigy, Photographic reflexes, Former enforcer for the Tracksuit Mafia
|New York City and Sovereign Cheyenne Nation Territory
|Confronting past crimes, Reconnecting with Native identity, Family and community
|Ties to Hawkeye series, Appearances by Daredevil and Kingpin
|73% Rotten Tomatoes critic rating, Praised for authenticity and positive representation
Besides Daredevil and Kingpin reprising their roles from the Defendersverse, Echo features a predominantly Native cast with recurring MCU players Zahn McClarnon, Graham Greene, and Tantoo Cardinal. The abundance of Indigenous talent both in front of and behind the camera makes this show truly groundbreaking.
For Native audiences, positive representation in mainstream media has been few and far between. That’s why many are heralding Echo as a huge step forward. The show tackles social issues like intergenerational trauma, substance abuse, and the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women with nuance and care.
The series holds up a mirror to the media industry by challenging preconceived stereotypes of Native Americans. Echo shows how Indigenous communities are building a better future rooted in tradition and resilience.
Leading the standout ensemble cast is deaf actress Alaqua Cox in her groundbreaking role as Maya “Echo” Lopez. She is joined by fellow Indigenous actors Devery Jacobs, Graham Greene, Zahn McClarnon, Tantoo Cardinal, Tatanka Means, Jana Schmieding, and more. Other key players include Cody Lightning, Chaske Spencer, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Charlie Cox reprising his role as Daredevil. The abundance of Native American and First Nations talent on both sides of the camera makes Echo a landmark achievement for representation in the mainstream superhero genre.
Ties to the Wider MCU
As the first sole Native lead of the MCU, Echo connects directly to the world of Hawkeye while laying groundwork for the upcoming Thunderbolts movie. The plot picks up threads left dangling after last year’s Hawkeye show on Disney+ which introduced Maya’s complex backstory.
Echo also continues expanding the street-level perspective of the MCU by further exploring the power dynamics and politics of post-blip New York City. Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio reprise their roles as Daredevil and Kingpin respectively, suggesting future crossover potential between Disney+’s varied Marvel content.
Early Reviews Praise Authenticity
So far, critical reception of Echo has been overwhelmingly positive with the show holding a 73% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In their 4 out of 5 star review, Culturess highlights Echo’s devotion to authenticity both through Indigenous talent and in its willingness to push boundaries rarely seen in the MCU.
Likewise, the AV Club calls the show “a carefully crafted character study” that delivers a grounded superhero origin story told through a decolonized lens. While the action set pieces don’t quite rival Daredevil or the Avengers films, Echo establishes itself as a more intimate portrait of healing and redemption.
What Viewers Can Expect
At its core, Echo is about challenging assumptions and redefining identity. The show dismantles stereotypes around disability and Indigenous cultures while bringing marginalized voices to the forefront. Fans eager for more connections to the wider MCU will find plenty to dissect.
However, the heart of the story remains Maya’s emotional homecoming as she reconnects with her Cheyenne heritage. Viewers can expect a heavy focus on Indigenous traditions and spirituality as Maya comes to terms with her talents as a gift rather than a curse.
Echo is streaming now exclusively on Disney+ with new episodes releasing every Wednesday. Don’t miss the origin story of the MCU’s groundbreaking new superhero.
Credit: By IGN