The following story contains light spoilers for the first two episodes of Hawkeye.
The first two episodes of Hawkeye, the latest limited series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to land on Disney+, spend a lot of time establishing a new hero (Kate Bishop, as played by Hailee Steinfeld) and checking the post-Endgame pulse of an old one (Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, played as always by Jeremy Renner).
And while a lot of time is spent on these beats of both character development and establishment, it is an MCU property—and that means we need some conflict. Enter the "Tracksuit Mafia," (who appear in exactly the dress you'd probably expect), who have it out for both Clint and Kate. But the person calling their shots, throughout the first two episodes, is a mystery until the very end—and is not someone clad in athleisure. The second episode leaves off introducing viewers to a young woman in a back room, one without a name or any dialogue just yet. All that's been established so far is how she looks, that she's in a back room calling the shots, and, like Clint Barton, is hard of hearing and uses American Sign Language to communicate. But we know some answers: this is Maya Lopez, also known as Echo, a character who will play a significant role in the future of the MCU.
The character is played by newcomer Alaqua Cox (this is her first role), and we know for certain that she will be sticking around because an Echo Disney+ spin-off series has already been officially announced. Does that mean that in Hawkeye, Echo will turn out to be more of a friend than a foe? It remains to be seen.
But for now, let's take a closer look at Echo, and what her whole deal is in the Marvel Comics and what it could mean for the future of the MCU.
Who is Echo in the Marvel Comics?
Maya Lopez, aka Echo, is a unique character in the Marvel Comics canon in that she's deaf and of Native American heritage; she first debuted in Daredevil #9 back in 1999. Her origin story is an interesting one; her father was named "Crazy Horse," and was killed by Wilson Fisk (aka The Kingpin). When he died, he left a bloody handprint on her face. Her father's dying wish was for the Kingpin to raise Maya as his own, and he honored that wish. Kingpin became Echo's stepfather.
Fisk sent Echo to a school for people with learning disabilities (not realizing that she was deaf), and she completely replicated a song while playing piano; she then went to a school for those with special talents.
That's the beginning of the "Echo" power that she has; she is a quick learner, has amazing reflexes, and is able to learn and mirror the abilities of others (fairly similar to Taskmaster, the classic Marvel Comics villain who was featured in the Black Widow film). When she's in her "Echo" persona, her signature look is a white handprint on her face, similar to the bloody handprint left by her father in his dying moments.
Echo's most notable storyline in her early Marvel Comics history was being sent by her father to seduce Matt Murdock and fight Daredevil; she falls in love with Matt, and fights Daredevil, besting him easily (she had studied his fighting) before realizing they're the same person, and fleeing. She is angry at the Kingpin and even shoots him in the face (he survives, don't worry). It's really a whole thing.
She also was the secret identity of the original Ronin (who Clint Barton was during his killing spree in Avengers: Endgame) during a 2005 New Avengers arc.
There's an Echo spinoff series coming to Disney+.
Disney has officially announced that Echo, a spin-off series focused on Maya Lopez, will be coming to Disney+.
— Disney+ (@disneyplus) November 12, 2021
This seems like the first (of what could possibly be many times) that Disney+ is using the "back door pilot" sort of strategy for the MCU that it already did with Season 2 of The Mandalorian in the Star Wars wing of things. Remember that was where both Boba Fett and Ahsoka Tano were re-introduced to audiences; both will soon have Disney+ series of their own.
Not much is known about the Echo series, but it seems likely that it could serve as something of an entry into the more grounded branch of the Marvel Universe for the MCU. Could this be a back door for a soft Daredevil reboot? Speaking of...
Does Echo in Hawkeye mean Daredevil or Kingpin are coming?
That's a good question, isn't it? As we detailed above, while Echo will of course have some dealings with both Clint and Kate, her comic origin is firmly rooted with both Kingpin and Daredevil.
This is potentially a slippery slope we're going down; remember that a Daredevil series ran for three seasons on Netflix, and hasn't been directly confirmed one way or another to officially been canon with our main MCU film series or 2021 Disney+ series continuity.
However, rumors only (we won't link to them, because they're largely unconfirmed) have suggested that maybe some Daredevil characters could be making a return, perhaps soft-rebooted into the proper MCU.
Vincent D'Onofrio, who played Kingpin in that series, seemed to give quite a big hint on his Twitter. "This is going to be fun," he wrote. "I love these @Marvel series."
— Vincent D'Onofrio (@vincentdonofrio) November 17, 2021
Sounds like we could be seeing Echo's adaptive father in the MCU—and maybe even in Hawkeye—pretty soon. Daredevil, whether he's played once again by Charlie Cox or by a new actor, seems like a slightly trickier nut to crack.
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