Echo is here, and with it: Echo (Alaqua Cox), staking it out on her own, and finding out what it means to be a hero.
She was first introduced in the second episode of Disney Plus’ Hawkeye, initially an antagonist to Kate Bishop and Clint Barton. It wasn’t long before Cox’s superhero was announced to have her own show — which finally premiered on Disney Plus and Hulu in January.
But is she a good guy? While she spent most of her first action-packed episode chasing our heroes, Marvel Comics readers know it’s a bit more complicated than that.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Hawkeye through episode 3.]
Teased in the finale scene of Hawkeye’s second episode, this week’s “Echoes” gives the superheroine Echo her full debut. The episode opens by showcasing her backstory, in which she is played by the young actress Darnell Besaw. The daughter of a member of the Tracksuit Mafia, she lost her hearing as a child. Without the money to enroll in a school for the Deaf, Maya was forced to develop her ability to lipread in order to interact with the hearing world that wouldn’t accommodate her.
And in the show, just like in Marvel Comics, it seems that Maya Lopez’s attention to visual detail has developed into something of a supernatural power — reading and copying body language.
Who is Maya Lopez/Echo in Marvel Comics?
Echo first appeared in the pages of Daredevil, created by David Mack and Joe Quesada (Mack was writing the series, and he and Quesada were both providing art), as an antagonist. In the comics, she was born deaf, and possessed a supernatural ability to perfectly copy the movements of anyone she saw — pretty much like Taskmaster, the Avengers villain who debuted in the MCU in Black Widow.
Maya was orphaned when her father died while working as an enforcer for Wilson “The Kingpin” Fisk, who you might remember from Netflix’s Daredevil series or Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Fisk took her under his wing in order to develop her abilities, convince her he was really a nice guy, and eventually unleashed her against the “villainous” Daredevil. Her most common “superhero” symbol is a handprint on her face, a tribute to her father’s last moments, just as it was in Hawkeye’s “Echoes.”
As a minor Marvel Comics character, Maya has been through a lot of ups and downs. She’s dated Daredevil, become buds with Wolverine, was the first person to use the Ronin suit/identity in Marvel Comics, tangled with Elektra and the Hand, and hung around with Moon Knight. She’s been a member of the Avengers on multiple occasions, where she was often written with a “supernatural” ability to read lips even when characters (like, say, Spider-Man) were wearing full masks.
Maya has always been a Native American superhero, but recently in comics she was established as a member of the Cheyenne Nation specifically, rejoined the Avengers and — let me check here — became the host of the Phoenix Force. That part, at least, is probably not going to come up in Hawkeye. But Clint Barton’s show won’t be the last time we see Echo.
Maya Lopez is getting her own Disney Plus spinoff show, and fans are crossing their fingers that the Echo series will reintegrate the world of Netflix’s Daredevil with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But they’ll be waiting a while, as Echo does not currently have a release window.