My #NativeNerd opinion/editorial about the series coming in 2023, facts about Echo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe versus the Marvel comic books, and my overdue review of the Winter 2021 Disney+ series Hawkeye
For those of you who are fans of the Marvel Universe, even more specifically, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there is a LOT to be excited about with the introduction of Echo, aka Maya Lopez, who is portrayed by Alaqua Cox.
First of all, a huge kudos to Disney and Marvel, who actually took the steps to hire a Native American and deaf actress. Alaqua Cox, who is actually deaf, was born and raised on the Menominee Reservation in Kansas. Cox is Menominee and Mohican.
Disney has just released an announcement that the Echo series, which will highlight the superhero’s origin story, will be coming to Disney+ in 2023. Production is underway in Atlanta. There have also been additional Native cast members announced.
My Hawkeye review: 9.2/10 (Check out my Rotten Tomatoes review page)
AKA – The first television/streaming service appearance of Echo/Maya Lopez!
When Echo first appeared in the Disney+ series Hawkeye, I had made some predictions about what viewers might see. I am pleased to announce I was right on the money regarding a connection to Kingpin, and Matt Murdock aka Daredevil.
It was exciting to see Matt Murdock make an appearance. I was also admittedly impressed with Disney’s decision to stay with the television series’ actor Charlie Cox, portraying Matt Murdock in the cameo.
I have watched a lot of Marvel and it is a rare occasion to see a Marvel lead actor in a television or video-on-demand platform series make it into the new Marvel Universe. I was also excited to see Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk also known as Kingpin, who also came from the Daredevil series.
This is new, and welcome territory, my applause to Disney and Marvel for this awesome choice.
In terms of my review on Hawkeye, as I had cited in a previous #NativeNerd review, I felt that the series started out with a mild bit of a dull thud. That feeling was short-lasting as it came back with a powerhouse of a hit due to Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) making a serious step up in superhero action.
Hawkeye has never been given his glory in the Marvel Universe, but I have to say, when Clint Barton makes that sideways jumping arrow shot, I was all about some Hawkeye.
I do wonder if Hawkeye was a bit too heavy on the “Kate Bishop as the new Hawkeye” storyline, but I suspect this will too fall into its own good graces. Hailee Steinfeld does an exceptional job of portraying the Marvel superhero newbie Kate Bishop, and it’s more than obvious to me that Bishop will continue to be an extremely likable character in the MCU.
Echo makes it to the screen
All said, Jeremy Renner did a great job, as did Hailee Steinfeld, but the truest bit of excitement for me was when Alaqua Cox made it on screen.
I think back to the days as a kid, growing up on Compton Blvd., going to Geoffrey’s Comics and getting the latest X-Men, Spider-Man or Daredevil comic. I remember the day I saw Danielle Moonstar on the cover of The New Mutants graphic novel. I marveled (sorry, couldn’t resist) at the fact there was a Native American superhero. As a Native kid, I rarely, if ever saw a Native hero that didn’t have a hawk on his shoulder, was a super tracker, or had one moment where he dove into a lake with a knife in his teeth.
All said, Jeremy Renner did a great job, as did Hailee Steinfeld, but the truest bit of excitement for me was when Alaqua Cox made it on screen.#NativeNerd and editor of Native Viewpoint, Vincent Schilling
Here was Maya Lopez, as well as her father (played by Zahn McClarnon, whom I know personally) in a Marvel / Disney production.
Like it or not, TV is the biggest educator out there, and to have non-stereotypical portrayals of a Native hero was epic to me. Watching a Native superhero fight, react on screen and be a part of the MARVEL UNIVERSE WAS EPIC TO ME.
I may be 55 years old and coming up on my 25th wedding anniversary, but there is still a Carnage action figure in my laptop bag, and an Incredible Hulk figure in my car. I am always going to be a nerdy, quirky comic book-loving little kid, even when I am an elder. Thank you Disney, thank you Marvel, because representation matters.
There are little Native kids out there somewhere that will never know television with a complete absence of Native people. I am grateful for the changes I have seen. Even if the roads to these changes have been bumpy.
I am so looking forward to Echo in 2023.
I anxiously await the much more detailed story of Maya Lopez’s life showcased in her origin story.
That said, here are my collection of answered questions, facts and even some predictions on what might be coming to Echo
Who is Echo’s alter ego and what is special about her?
Echo’s real name is Maya Lopez. She is Cheyenne and Latin American. She is also deaf as well as an amputee. The comics’ version of Echo was not an amputee, but Disney and Marvel embraced the fact that Cox was missing her lower right leg, and worked the fact into her character’s life.
That is inspirational.
Echo is a high-ranking member of organized crime and due to her skills, learned intensive martial arts, weapons and acrobatic skills from “infamous” organizations known to the crime world, such as the ninja clan ‘The Hand.’
She has resided in the crime world for years but comes to terms with her choices at an early age. She becomes involved romantically with Matt Murdock, (Daredevil) as well as Clint Barton (Hawkeye) and Wolverine.
She has a fondness for theatrical arts, performances and dance. Her father William, is in cohorts with Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin, a powerful crime boss.
What are Echo’s superpowers?
Photographic reflexes and ability to perfectly mirror movements
Echo can watch a fighter or dancer perform a routine or demonstrate movements of any kind and is able to mirror of duplicate the moves flawlessly. She can also be in the midst of a fight and once a move is made, Echo can also duplicate that movement.
Due to her talents, she is also a concert pianist as well as a dancer. As a child growing up, she was so talented at reading lips, it was years until teachers discovered she was deaf.
She is a pianist, dancer, master acrobat as well as gymnast, expert marksman and expertly proficient with weapons. She cannot duplicate movements needing superpowers.
Is Echo a mutant?
According to Marvel, Echo is not a mutant.
This is extremely interesting to me, as my mind goes to, “Where did she get her powers?” I am looking forward to Marvel’s exploration of this.
How many comic books has Echo appeared in?
Maya Lopez has (so far) 109 Marvel comic book appearances that tie her into nearly every part of the Marvel Universe active today
Echo first appeared in 1999 in a Daredevil comic book with Matt Murdock (Daredevil) who made a brief cameo in the Disney+ series Hawkeye — as I had predicted.
Echo makes an additional series of appearances in Daredevil for several issues in 1999, then resurfaces again in 2004, five years later. She even graduates to different levels of superheroism.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a fickle thing, and not every aspect of what happens in the comic books happens in the movies. But I can make some assumptions about where the trajectory of her character might be going. I will also make some predictions about the latest cast announcements.
What specific comic book titles has Echo appeared in?
Echo has worked with the Avengers, including Captain America. She has also collaborated with Clint Barton (Hawkeye) Iron Fist, Wolverine, the Hulk, and Dr. Strange. She has also fought alongside Captain Marvel, Moon Knight, Jean Grey (Pheonix) of the X-Men, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman and Black Panther.
Here are the specific comic book titles:
Matt Murdock and the Kingpin are prevalent in the storyline when Echo makes her first several-issue debut.
Heroes: Ronin, Captain America, Luke Cage, Spider-Woman, Iron Man, Spider-Man.
Antagonists: Yakuza, Clan Yashida (Silver Samurai), The Hand, Hydra.
Many heroes and villains, but important to note Fantastic Four, Wolverine and Doctor Strange were in the storylines surrounding Echo’s appearances.
World War Hulk
Same as above, including the Incredible Hulk and Black Panther as well. Echo eventually seeks refuge and ends up taking up residence in Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum.
In Moon Knight, Echo collaborates with Spider-Man, Captain America and Wolverine. At one point she becomes romantically involved with Moon Knight.
Deadpool (Vol 5) #44
Just the title should give us pause … Deadpool? If I was watching a series on Disney+ and Deadpool showed up, I would scream … literally. Or at least yell “whoa!” loud enough to scare my wife Delores.
More connections to Daredevil, as well as Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist.
Works with Echo to build a special team.
A special dedicated issue to Indigenous Marvel characters.
Other issues include Heroes Reborn, Phoenix Song, Death of Dr. Strange, Iron Man and The Eternals.
What does Echo’s handprint on her face mean?
In the comics, Echo’s father William faces an unfortunate end and as he is dying places his bloody hand on his daughter’s face. As a result, she continues to wear the hand in tribute to her father.
The series may or may not embrace this fact.
What is important about Echo’s comic history?
Echo/Maya Lopez is the estranged/adoptive daughter of Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin
I correctly predicted we would see Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin in the Hawkeye series. It was also interesting to see the character Matt Murdock (the blind superhero, Daredevil) in a recent Marvel production.
In her comic book life, Maya Lopez has been romantically involved with Daredevil, Wolverine and Moon Knight.
Who has Echo fought with? Been an ally with?
Echo/Maya Lopez is a former friend/ally of Wolverine, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel and the Hulk amongst others.
There is no telling how far Marvel/Disney is going to take this. But there is a connection that I am wondering if it is purposeful or not. In the Marvel comics, Maya works with Captain America thanks to Daredevil’s referral. She takes on the role of Ronin.
She fights alongside Hawkeye, Moon Knight, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and Captain America and even lives at Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Santorum.
Echo’s appearance potentially could bring together the non-mutant and mutant Marvel Universes
Yes! This has been something I have long been waiting for. Echo worked as an ally alongside Wolverine since her appearances in New Warriors and other comic issues after. Up to 2021, the mutants and non-mutant superheroes and villains have shared separate movies and series.
This isn’t a guarantee, but for some reason, I feel it coming.
Thus my next possible, though maybe not probable (but not impossible) prediction.
MY PREDICTIONS / POTENTIAL SPOILERS
READ AHEAD WITH CAUTION (Spoiler section end marked below)
Who is Julie? Devery Jacobs’ character? Could it be Julie Lopez from Logan?
First off – this is a stretch in the Marvel Universe – but it is possible.
This is a complete guess, as the Logan timeline may or may not correspond with the Echo world. But in Logan, there is a young Indigenous mutant by the name of Julie who escapes with the help of a nurse Gabriela Lopez who was working for Alkali-Transigen’s Mexico branch. What does this mean? Could Julie be a cloned mutant child?
“Wait,” you are likely saying. “Who the heck is Julie?”
In Logan (Wolverine’s alter-ego) there are a group of children that are literally mutant cloned children. One of the children is Julie, a friend to Wolverine’s daughter, Laura also known as Mutant X or X-23.
Keep in mind, that I have no way of knowing if this is possible due to a timeline limitation, the possibility Julie escaped alive, nor if Gabriela Lopez is in any way related to Maya Lopez’s family. Gabriela also notably did not help Julie in the same way she was able to help Laura.
This is an extremely longshot prediction, but I am making it anyway. But if I am right, I will consider this a Native Nerd grand slam prediction.
Will Echo become the Pheonix Force?
According to Avengers (Vol 8) #40-45 “Enter the Phoenix) when Maya continues to fight with the Avengers, she eventually undergoes a massive change when the mutant celestial being Phoenix makes Maya her new host, thus Echo becomes the new Phoenix Force.
The flaming arm belongs to Maya Lopez.
In the issue, Echo says the following:
“The blood of the Cheyenne flows through my veins. Like many of the Native tribes, my people have always believed in a winged spirit of change. A great bird of fire that brings the summer. That protects us from the things that would feed on us, in the darkness and the sea. In the long, cold winter. Today, for better or worse, I have become that change. My name is Maya Lopez. And I am an echo of all the fire and life that’s come before me. I am the Thunderbird of old and of tomorrow. I am the Phoenix.”
Is this going to happen? In my opinion, this massive of a change likely will not happen in the series next year, but certainly could happen in the future if Marvel decides to take on the Secret Wars episodes or some other massive Marvel hero collaboration storyline.
I am not saying it won’t happen, but it certainly could happen.
SPOILERS’ SECTION OVER
Will there be more Native American superheroes?
Superheroes in the Marvel Universe oftentimes happen in families, and as of yet, the character names in the upcoming Echo series haven’t been officially released by Marvel.
But could we be looking at Chaske Spencer? Devery Jacobs or Cody Lightning as a new super?
I suspect yes, and look forward to how things continue to go.
In the Marvel Universe so far, we have seen a few Native superheroes including Danielle Moonstar in The New Mutants and Warpath in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Now that Disney is becoming less hindered by licensing and copyrights in the world of Marvel, there are a lot fewer restrictions, therefore I am thrilled to see where things go from here.
Way to go Alaqua!
All said, I think I am comfortable in saying a ton of Native peeps out there are extremely proud of you Alaqua as well as we are happy to see other Native cast members making it into the Disney Universe.
Congrats to Alaqua Cox, Chaske Spencer, Tantoo Cardinal, Devery Jacobs, Cody Lightning, Graham Greene and Zahn McClarnon!
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Editor and co-founder of Native Viewpoint, Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk
Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk, is the founder and editor of Native Viewpoint. With over 16 years of experience as a Native journalist and former member of the White House Press Pool. Follow Vincent on Twitter at @VinceSchilling or on any other of his social media accounts by clicking on any of the icons below.
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