While speaking at a press conference for Echo, director Sydney Freeland explained how the series’ story heavily revolves around the titular character, who was “introduced as a villain” in the MCU, after being asked about what the tone of the series is:
“I think everything stems from story. So, what is the character? Where are they coming from? Where are they going? What is the emotion? And so, in our case, we have Maya Lopez, who is, you know, in ‘Hawkeye,’ she’s introduced as a villain. And, you know, that was really our jumping-off point.”
Stemming from Maya Lopez herself, the story is automatically connected to “Wilson Fisk” and the “New York criminal underworld:”
“And you have Maya Lopez, you have Wilson Fisk, and you have this whole sort of New York criminal underworld as a jumping-off point. And so, you know, in the conversations early on, it was always talking about, like, hey, this is actually very interesting .”
She reiterated that “the goal was never to try to turn her into [Captain America],” and how they wanted to “see how far [they] could go down that rabbit hole:”
“And the fact that she’s a villain. And so, the goal was never to try to turn her into, like, Captain America. Right? In the conversations with Marvel, the response was like, hey, let’s lean into that. Let’s see if we can push it out a little. Let’s see how far we can go down that rabbit hole. And so, really, the tone and the visual style came from the story and the circumstances of the character.”
She later explained how they started with her role of being a villain, but then went on to ask themselves how a “deaf, indigenous amputee girl from Oklahoma” would go on to be “one of the top-ranking lieutenants in Kingpin’s army:”
“… One of the most interesting aspects about the character is the fact that she’s a villain in ‘Hawkeye,’ right? But then within that, once you start, sort of, pulling in that thread, then you look at where she comes from, right? And you look at, “Oh, 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?” And answering those questions was such an exciting place to be.”
“And then once you layer on the Choctaw cultural specifics onto that,” continued Freeland, then it “gave [them] a chance to tell a really fun story:”
“And then answering the question, “Well, what is that like when she goes back home?” You know? And I think for, you know, just for myself and you know, being indigenous, being an American, it was such a fun and exciting place to be. And then once you layer on the Choctaw cultural specifics onto that, it gave us a chance to tell a really fun story, you know?”
Head of Marvel Streaming, Television, and Animation Brad Winderbaum added that while the show is TV-MA, they didn’t always set out to hit that milestone:
“You know, ‘Echo’ is a more adult show. It’s our first TV-MA show, but we didn’t set out to make a TV-MA show. We set out to make a Maya Lopez show. This is a character who has a violent past, who’s dealt with some real trauma, who has really difficult decisions to make, and ultimately has to confront people she loves to grow and change. Following this character, it created the tone. It created a grittier, more grounded story for the audience. That just so happened to be more adult. More TV-MA. But it really was always born from Maya as a character.”
Marvel Lets the Villains Take the Spotlight
While the show is about Echo, it does seem like people are more excited about other aspects of the project—namely Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin and Charlie Cox’s Daredevil.
On the one hand, some may find it problematic since the show is supposed to be about Maya Lopez, and the spotlight should be on her without question. But on the other hand, it’s hard to blame people for the return of two major fan-favorite characters.
Despite Maya Lopez’s uniqueness, many are still hesitant, with people voicing how they cannot understand why Echo would be deserving of a standalone series—especially within the scope of the wider MCU.
At the very least, it is great to see the MCU exploring more villain-based stories. That habit could open up the Marvel Cinematic Universe to some intriguing storylines down the line, such as a Doctor Doom project.
Hopefully, Marvel Studios can prove doubters wrong and offer up a quality, gritty, TV-MA street-level adventure so many are waiting for. If they miss the mark, there’s no telling what the future might look like for Alaqua Cox’s villain (anti-hero?).