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REVIEW: ‘Echo’ is a solid, if sometimes by-the-numbers, crime-action show

Carljoe Javier

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

REVIEW: ‘Echo’ is a solid, if sometimes by-the-numbers, crime-action show
'Even though there are touches of fantasy and superhero powers, these take a back seat to the commitment to gritty crime drama that the series makes'

Before diving into Echo, and given that it’s my first piece for 2024 and a new year for viewing, I think it’s worth spending some time to put this specific Marvel release into context.

First off, I think we need to accept that Marvel today isn’t the Marvel of its heyday (and we may even be looking at that heyday with rose-tinted glasses). If I were to be allowed a metaphor, Marvel was a band that had a breakthrough debut album, and then released a bunch of awesome albums. Now, struggling with success, there is strife, weird experiments, records that don’t work, and musical directions and explorations that can be baffling even to the most hardcore listener. 

Which is to say that Marvel movies, and superhero movies and series in general, are in a really weird spot. And we don’t have to like it all. Or watch it all even. We can pick and choose. 

Perhaps in a more positive way, the amount of content out there, and the huge demand for it, has allowed for the studios to experiment and go beyond the rosters, tell more diverse stories, explore new places. Like a band bringing in new ideas and influences, some of it won’t work, and some of it might energize and provide a new path. 

That brings us to Echo. Alaqua Cox’s version of the character was launched in Hawkeye (a show I quite enjoyed because it was fun and silly) and now she gets a whole series. I got three episodes to screen for review. Thankfully, even if you didn’t watch Hawkeye or read any of the comics, or have any other knowledge, you can jump into the series. They provide you with enough context and back story so you don’t feel like you’re walking into a move 40 minutes late. 

The series opens with some pretty extensive and almost-vanilla table setting. I’m still wrestling with what to do with the first 20 minutes, because on the one hand, it’s sort of par for the course basics for a show like this. It’s a bunch of background, showing us the childhood of the character, sweet moments blended with, of course, some kind of tragedy that defines them. At the same time though, it signals to us that this show is invested in character work (although executing it in a mostly predictable way). This also sets up the context that the character will be operating in for the rest of the series. 

So that first 20 minutes is going to be a taste thing and it’ll be up to your personal preference if it’s worth it to keep going. 

But if you do keep going, then the show starts cooking. 

Echo offers up some of the most brutal, in-your-face brawling that’s reminiscent to the Netflix Marvel shows. And, well, from that moment I was willing to go along for the ride. 

I think what’s interesting here with Echo is, at least in its first three episodes, it’s decided to be a crime story that’s setting up a hero turn.

The character, Echo, is focused on dismantling Kingpin’s businesses (Vincent D’Onofrio gets to keep playing the character, and of course he is great at it). She’s on the run from Kingpin’s men, and looking for ways to keep hurting them. That brings her back to her hometown, which she hasn’t gone back to in 15 years or so. So we don’t see her doing anything particularly heroic; in fact she is doing some stuff that could be considered terroristic, except that her target is other bad guys. 

Where I think this show can generate interest, and what sets it apart, is its incorporating of Native American culture. I won’t pretend to know enough to speak about that culture, but I will say that seeing the snippets of history, fantasy, and culture are fun. Whether it’s these short period pieces sprinkled around, or it’s characters messing with unwitting tourists who want “authentic culture,” it adds a new element not just to the show, but to the Marvel universe. 

I think online, even before the show’s release, this aspect has been maligned as a mere diversity play. And sure, people are going to believe that. But I do think it enriches both the show and the viewer to have this here, alongside what in three episodes is a solid, if sometimes by-the-numbers, crime-action show. 

At this point, with the variety and volume of “superhero” and tangential content, we shouldn’t expect each release to be a must-see. Rather, I think we see that it’s all part of a content strategy and content offering, and we are free to choose which of these offerings are for us. 

Echo offers us a badass woman anti-hero. And while it inhabits the same kind of darkness and brutality on the level of Moon Knight, it’s decidedly a street-level brawler. Even though there are touches of fantasy and superhero powers, these take a back seat to the commitment to gritty crime drama that the series makes. So if you’re looking for brawling and crime alongside a character journey that’s set in a new place for Marvel stories, then this might be worth your time. – Rappler.com

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