Following her dramatic debut in the 2021 Marvel Studios series Hawkeye, Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) takes center stage in Echo, premiering Tuesday, January 9, at 6 p.m. PT on Disney+ and Hulu. The gritty, grounded, five-episode series is a self-contained story that follows Maya’s pursuit of power and revenge as she is pursued by Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) and his criminal empire.
Echo will be the first series under the Marvel Spotlight banner, which gives Marvel Studios a platform to bring more grounded, character-driven stories to the screen. Ahead of its debut, executive producer Brad Winderbaum—who also serves as Marvel Studios’ Head of Streaming, Television, and Animation—spoke about some of the series’ other firsts in the MCU, as well as what he hopes audiences take away from Maya’s journey.
This is the first time Marvel Studios will debut a series with all episodes at once, in addition to being the first series to stream on both Disney+ and Hulu. Echo is also Marvel Studios’ first series to be rated TV-MA and be housed under the new Marvel Spotlight banner. Why was it so important to differentiate Echo from previous releases?
Brad Winderbaum: In a way, Echo has almost been like a secret. It’s been fun and crazy to see all of the speculation around Echo over the last year—and in a void of any information, people’s imaginations just run wild with what it is and what it isn’t. We knew this show was going to be a real renegade within the MCU, and that’s something that excited us about it. The series is a bit of a punch in the face. Part of the binge-drop philosophy is that it just feels like you want it all there, all at once. It’s that kind of show. It’s aggressive storytelling, which makes the binge model feel appropriate. The fact that it’s TV-MA? When you when you look at a character like Maya Lopez, who was trained by Kingpin and comes from a brutal world of organized crime, there’s no soft way to tell this story. She’s a martial artist on a motorcycle who kicks a ton of ass! So, from the beginning, we wanted to be true to that. [Director and executive producer Sydney Freeland’s] vision was to create an unapologetic character who has a lot to learn—and in the course of the story, she certainly does. The fact that it’s TV-MA made us feel like a co-release could be a great way to platform it, because while Echo reaches the core Marvel audience on Disney+, it also has something to offer to the audience that’s on Hulu—to people who are used to watching shows on FX, or shows that are a little more hard-hitting.
What differentiates titles that fall under the Marvel Spotlight banner?
Brad: Marvel Spotlight is about resetting the audience’s expectations. Not everything is tied to a mainline Avengers story or is a necessary path on the road to this “big thing.” There’s no homework required. You can watch it, and we’re going to fill in the blanks. Yes, Maya was in Hawkeye, but if you never saw Hawkeye, believe me, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know so that you can start from scratch when you watch this show.
Does this prevent Maya from appearing in an Avengers movie? When a character appear in a Marvel Spotlight series, is it just about ensuring the audience knows this is its own contained story—but if you want to continue following their journeys, you can?
Brad: That’s exactly right. She is still technically breathing the same air as the Avengers, but it’s not required viewing. You can watch Echo on its own and not feel like you need to watch anything before or after. Will Maya pop up again somewhere else down the line? It’s quite possible. Could she be in an Avengers movie? You never can tell. But that’s not really what the Marvel Spotlight brand is about. The Marvel Spotlight brand is saying, “This a complete meal in and of itself.” Just like the Spotlight comics, whether it’s Captain Marvel or Ghost Rider or Moon Knight, the characters that did well under the Spotlight banner went on to have a life in the greater comic book universe. So, there’s always that potential.
What are you most excited for audiences to take away from Echo?
Brad: That’s a tough question. I can’t tell you the one thing I’m excited for fans to see, because I’m excited for them to see so many things! But if you made me decide, I would say it’s Alaqua Cox. We put her onscreen for the first time in Hawkeye, and she delivered a performance with such depth and such pathos. She’s just incredible—and so, so captivating.