Created in 1999 by David Mack and Joe Quesada, the character of Maya Lopez, aka Echo – played by Alaqua Cox – made her first appearance in a Daredevil comic book. The dark tone of the new series from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is similar to that of the three seasons of Daredevil broadcast on Netflix. This is the studios’ first offering to be marked 18 (TV-MA). “If we hadn’t been able to show the violence necessary to tell this character’s story, the show would have suffered,” says Richie Palmer, executive producer, in a virtual interview. Maya is, after all, the adopted daughter of the ruthless Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin – Vincent D’Onofrio reprises his role. “In the first episode, there’s a six-minute sequence shot. I turned it like this to show its evolution over the course of the battle. She goes in as a teenager and comes out a killer,” says director Sydney Freeland.
Echo is also the MCU’s first work under the Spotlight banner. Richie Palmer emphasizes that this allows more obscure characters from the comics to be brought to the screen and “honor their origins” by presenting them in a context that is specific to them. So, in addition to being able to watch it in one go, it is not necessary to have seen several films and series before starting Echo. That said, Maya Lopez was one of the antagonists of Hawkeye, launched in November 2021. The first episode of Echo summarizes the events in a beautiful way by showing them from another point of view. “That Maya is at first glance a villain is what I found most interesting,” emphasizes Sydney Freeland in a virtual interview. We could explore different gray areas in his quest for identity and the meaning of family. »
A resident of New York for years and a member of the Kingpin criminal “family,” Maya is far from her Chacta origins. On the run, she returns to Tamaha, Oklahoma, where she grew up and where those who know her best still live. “First and foremost, we met the Chacta people there and we did two things: ask permission and then engage in dialogue, because we wanted to learn about their culture and traditions so that our story would be as authentic as possible,” explains Sydney Freeland, herself an Aboriginal person. In the first three episodes seen by La Presse, certain scenes taking place more than 800 years ago show rituals and events which seem to be the source of mystical powers. The director indicates that these are inspired by conversations with the Chactas. “Maya gets her powers from the bond that unites her to her ancestors. They’re supernatural, but grounded in reality,” adds Richie Palmer.
“I belong to several marginalized communities myself, so I understand some of the reality of Maya and the pitfalls she has to overcome, but the humanity of the character is what was most important to us,” notes Sydney Freeland . Our goal was not to check boxes. […] Personally, I wanted to know how a deaf and amputee Native woman from Oklahoma managed to reach the highest ranks of Kingpin’s army. » Richie Palmer reiterates that Maya’s storytelling potential goes beyond what she’s known for, as demonstrated in comics for over 20 years. “What’s really cool is that his culture and challenges are those of real people and they are represented in the MCU by a character of great complexity. Yes, she’s deaf, indigenous and wears a prosthetic to kick ass, but that’s not what defines her,” the producer concludes.