#NativeNerd review: Alaqua Cox crushes it as Marvel’s ‘Echo’

Echo illustrates the beauty of Native collaboration and storytelling: Alaqua Cox performs the MCU’s best choreography I’ve seen, and D’Onofrio’s Kingpin is masterfully dark

Alaqua Cox portrays Maya Lopez, the superhero (or is it supervillain?) in the latest Marvel Spotlight miniseries on Disney+ titled Echo.

Take just a moment to reflect on that line above. Marvel and Disney (and Hulu) have teamed up to create a culturally accurate superhero, which is airing/streaming on one of the largest video-on-demand platforms in the world. 

For the first time in cinematic history, Marvel is showcasing a Native American superhero who is deaf and whose show was written, produced, and directed by Indigenous writers, producers, and a director, and showcases a long list of Native American/First Nations actors. 

2024 is an amazing time. 

As I begin my review—and just so you as the reader are aware—I received the first three episodes of Echo last December, so for several agonizing weeks now, I have sat with this information in my brain. I wanted to post my thoughts so badly on social media, so thankfully, I can do so now.

However, I have yet to see the final two episodes, which I am tremendously anxious to see in the best of ways.

I am so excited and happily delirious; I fear this review is going to be biased

I realize I am likely saying this for the millionth time, and I have been reading comic books since I was about ten years old, which amounts to nearly 50 years of comic reading since I’m 56. 

Since I have been reading comic books for that long, I am comfortable saying I have an informed history of the Marvel Universe. So here we go!

Marvel Echo Series Review

Score 9.7 out of 10

I score the Echo series a 9.7 out of 10 – meaning the only mild 0.3 points of criticism I have is due to the things I want more of. I want more episodes, I want more about Graham Greene’s tinkering skills, I want more Echo fights, more Kingpin, more action … but then again, isn’t it any director’s job to make you want more?

But I will not get greedy, and I am more than grateful for the five fantastic episodes.

Coming off of Hawkeye, where we are now in Echo

Coming off the tail of the Disney+ series Hawkeye, Echo/Maya Lopez (portrayed by Alaqua Cox) is fleeing to her home rez in Choctaw territory after having shot Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio) in the eye. 

While in Choctaw territory, Maya Lopez has to get the help of her family, all the while following up on some information regarding illegal activities taking place in the area. Without revealing any spoilers, let’s just say there is ample car-chasing, train car-hopping, kicking, and punching Marvel fun!  

But then the Sydney Freeland effect on this series really starts to show — and it’s magical.

In my career as a journalist and critic, I have had the pleasure to review and comment on a plethora of films and cinematographic art forms, and Echo delivers something I have yet to see in a Marvel movie or series: the feeling of being on a Rez. Inasmuch as I was watching a series, I felt something else I had never felt before. I felt like I was watching what I might see in my own home, with my own family.

This is what I will call the Freeland Effect because Sydney Freeland continues to do it, and when watching the Echo series, I am completely engaged and completely focused. I feel like a little Native kid looking into a candy store, with my nose smooshed up against the glass, looking into the store, with a huge smile on my face.

The Freeland Effect, as I am calling it and describing it, is what I will describe as Sydney Freeland’s incredible skill in creating the palpable air or tangible environment of the world in which the story is going. 

As we go from the busy city where Echo is fighting Daredevil and the other opponents she faces, the environmental vibe then changes. As we as an audience later travel to the rez in this series, the scene’s dynamic again changes. 

The environment of Echo’s world, the world of the Choctaw territory, is there.  As a director, how do you create the environment as a separate character, so to speak? I don’t know, but whatever Sydney Freeland is doing, I’ll just sit back and marvel at what I can only call the “Freeland Effect.” (Yes, I used marvel on purpose, not so much pun-intended, as it really just works there.

Native actors galore!

I am so incredibly thankful to see so many Native American and First Nations actors in this production, as well as such powerhouses as Vincent D’Onofrio and Charlie Cox.

Look at this amazing list of actors:

Alaqua Cox (“Hawkeye”) as Maya Lopez / Echo
Vincent D’Onofrio (“Hawkeye,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”) Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin
Devery Jacobs (FX’s “Reservation Dogs,” “American Gods”) as Bonnie
Chaske Spencer (“Wild Indian,” “The English”) as Henry
Cody Lightning (“Hey, Viktor!” “Four Sheets to the Wind”)
Tantoo Cardinal (“Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Stumptown”)
Graham Greene (“1883,” “Goliath”) 
Zahn McClarnon (“Dark Winds,” FX’s “Reservation Dogs”) William Lopez
Charlie Cox (“Daredevil) Matt Murdock

In addition to the exciting fanfare of a Native American Marvel superhero (or villain?) something magical happens: Enter the talented actors Devery Jacobs, Chaske Spencer, Graham Greene, and Tantoo Cardinal—all who are living their lives on the Choctaw rez, enjoying their families, and not suspecting a cataclysmic turn of events is making its way to them all.

All the while, when I was watching the first three episodes, I could stop, take a deep breath, and be mesmerized by the world I was in, the totally believable world enhanced by the expertise of the Freeland Effect.

On the rez, some things happen slowly, some happen in good time, and some happen fast. If you want to get a piece of paperwork signed by a few people, plan on a week or two. Are you getting something fixed? It depends on several factors, thus, you’ll get it in good time. If you are finding out Maya Lopez is there back home and is not telling everyone? That would take about ten minutes to make its way throughout the whole rez.    

A dream come true for the little kid in me

When you watch Echo—and I highly recommend you do—remember that for some kids, it is the first time in their lives that they have seen someone with superpowers who looks just like them.

What a wonderful dream come true that the little imaginative kid in me can enjoy a Marvel TV series with a Native American and deaf actress named Alaqua Cox. 

I think Sarah Young Bear-Brown, whose seven-year-old daughter is Native American and deaf, said it wonderfully on X: (I posted her tweet below with Sarah’s permission.)

Big Day for us Indigenous Deaf Folks! The Marvel’s Echo starts at 8 pm central zone! The Main Character Echo-Maya Lopez is a KickAss Choctaw Deaf Woman SuperHero! Just like my daughter Maya who is 7 years old Deaf Choctaw girl.

Never thought I’d see this in my lifetime. #Echo

I agree, Sarah; I never thought I would see this in my lifetime, either. I genuinely wonder, with an admitted lump in my throat, just what wondrous things your daughter Maya must be thinking, because a Marvel super person is Native American and deaf, just like her.

And congratulations on your “Most Enthusiastic” award certificate, Maya; I know you definitely deserve it. You are a hero at your school.

My overall thoughts

My overall thoughts are just, wow. I can’t believe I get to see this, to watch this, to imagine there will be little Native kids somewhere in this world, shooting lasers at the bad guys while looking up to the sky, knowing that someday, too, they might be able to be a hero to their friends, to the community, or even to the world.

I just watched the two final episodes.

I have to say I was getting anxious for a lot more action, and then suddenly, the floor was swept out from underneath me. Tantoo Cardinal and Graham Greene then proceed to deliver some of the most beautiful and sincere moments so far in the series, when Tantoo Cardinal and Alaqua Cox are together on scene and then moments later with Cox and an ancestor … well, suddenly everything made sense.

It was as if the stars finally aligned, and those poetry stances clicked when the next lines rhymed perfectly.

Everything made sense, Echo’s ancestry, her abilities, her ancestors, her name. The last episode, for me, was the golden episode. Everything came together, and it was beautiful. The regalia, the beaded garments, and the drum songs of Northern Cree all came together in a world of pure symphonic Native culture.

Alauqa Cox also reached amazing levels of emotional availability on screen, phenomenal work.

Thank you Marvel.

Check out my interviews with the cast, director and executive producer

This imagination, excitement, and joy have been palpable for a very long time; I got to share in this magic last December. On a Marvel Echo press day, It was wonderful to interview Alaqua Cox—as well as Vincent D’Onofrio, Devery Jacobs, Chaske Spencer, Sydney Freeland and producer Richie Palmer.

You can watch the video here:

Echo is so much more than a series about a Native American superhero; it is a series that also says that you can achieve anything you can imagine.

Here are my quotes:

Echo is a beautifully done series that embraces Marvel’s wonderful imagination and the vibrant culture of the Choctaw people.

Alaqua Cox crushes it, and Vincent D’Onofrio delivers the most frightening Kingpin yet. 

Additional cast

Dannie McCallum – Tuklo
Alejandra Jaime – Spirit
Alexis Capozzi – Interpreter
Isabella Madrigal – Actress
Dionicio Virvez – Choctaw Native Veteran
Christopher Cocke – Car Accident Victim
Dakota Ray Hebert – Gretchen Sarnoff
Leon S LaMar III – King Pin Boss Guard
Ryan Austin Bryant – Skate Rink Patron


X: @MarvelStudios, @DisneyPlus; @hulu

INSTAGRAM: @MarvelStudios; @DisneyPlus; @hulu

FACEBOOK: @MarvelStudios; @DisneyPlus; @hulu

TIK TOK: @Marvel


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