By Zach Johnson
Get ready for one killer drop when all five episodes of Marvel Studios' Echo debut simultaneously on Tuesday, January 9, only on Disney+ and Hulu. The series spotlights Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) as Wilson Fisk's (Vincent D'Onofrio) criminal empire pursues her. When the journey brings her back home, she must confront both her family and her legacy.
"One of the most interesting aspects about the character is the fact that she's a villain in Hawkeye, right?" director and executive producer Sydney Freeland said during the virtual Echo press conference in December 2023. "But once you start pulling on that thread, you look at where she comes from. This is a Deaf, indigenous, amputee girl from Oklahoma. How the hell does she end up being one of the top-ranking lieutenants in Kingpin's army?"
Getting into Maya's headspace was easy for Cox, who made her MCU debut in the 2021 miniseries Hawkeye. "We both have childhood trauma," Cox explained. "For example, I am an amputee. I went through many different kinds of surgeries as a child, and that made me a warrior, in a sense. Maya [endured] the death of her mother and all of these tragic events that happened in her life. We both have different traumatic experiences. That makes us similar in a way, because we're both warriors, and we're both tough, and we're both badass."
Intended for mature audiences, the series shows a gritter side of the MCU. "The goal was never to try to turn her into, like, Captain America," Freeland said. In fact, she added, Marvel Studios executives encouraged her to "lean into" Maya's journey post-Hawkeye. "The tone and the visual style came from the story and the circumstances of the character."
As Maya will quickly learn, no bad deed goes unpunished. After their confrontation in the Hawkeye finale, Maya assumed she'd seen the last of Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin—but he's got unfinished business with her. "Without [good] writing, I can't really do much other than show up," said D'Onofrio, who will reprise his role in the upcoming series Daredevil: Born Again. "The writing is there, so it gives me the opportunity to bring the character forward."
While hiding out at home, Maya reunites with several family members she hasn't seen in years, from uncle Henry (Chaske Spencer) to cousin Bonnie (Devery Jacobs). "I always looked at [Henry] as a touchstone between Maya's past and her present," Spencer said, adding, "He's just a regular guy thrown into a very unique situation." Meanwhile, Bonnie gives viewers "a glimpse of who Maya might have been had she not been pulled away to New York," Jacobs said. Despite time and distance, there's a rich "history" between them that is undeniable, she added: "Even though they're cousins, it's almost like they're sisters."
With fans about to learn more about who Maya was and how that informed who she is, D'Onofrio can't wait for fans to see all that Cox brings to her role. "It takes talent, it takes guts, and that girl carried the show like a pro," he said. "There's nothing you can say, really, other than she's just extremely impressive." Spencer shared that sentiment, saying, "Working with Alaqua was phenomenal... I think the audience is going to be very impressed. I learned a lot from working with her, and that's what I love about this job. You get to work with some interesting, talented people, and at the end of the day, you create something special to give the audience. They are going to be very happy with the results."