Who is the Star of the 'Hawkeye' Spin-Off? Echo Explained

The Disney+ series Hawkeye hasn’t even premiered yet, but they’ve already announced a spin-off series for one of its main characters, the mysterious Echo. Who is she? Why is she getting her own spin-off? What’s with that handprint on her face?

Here’s everything you need to know about Echo, the deaf and Indigenous hero coming to Hawkeye and Echo.

When Did Echo Debut in Marvel Comics?

Echo first appeared in Daredevil #9 in December 1999. She was created by writer David Mack and artist Joe Quesada. Her introduction arc is collected into one graphic novel, titled “Parts of a Hole.” In an interview with deaf education expert Dr. Sharon Pajka, Mack revealed that he created Echo shortly after beginning his work for Marvel. Director Kevin Smith had just finished a run, and Quesada tasked Mack with creating an entirely new character for Matt Murdock’s Daredevil to face off against. Mack explained that in addition to experiences with his Indigenous uncle, Echo’s story was shaped by trying to mirror Murdock.

“Daredevil deciphers much of his world from sound instead of sight. Echo grew up not having access or understanding of this “audible world” and therefore learned to decipher all of the visual cues of the world as a language that she pieced together by an acute pattern recognition.”

Echo would reappear as Ronin in The New Avengers #11 in November 2005. Her turn under this secret identity was created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Finch. She took on the new role to join the Avengers after Daredevil recommended her to Captain America, hiding her true identity and gender in her new costume.

What is Echo’s Origin Story?

Wilson Fisk (A.K.A. the Kingpin) killed Maya Lopez’s father when she was just a little girl. Her father, a Cheyenne gangster, had one request for his former partner-in-crime: take care of his little girl. Kingpin obliged, sending Maya to only the finest schools. Soon they discovered that she was able to mimic any activity she watched enough times. She learned to dance and play instruments expertly, and eventually she learned to communicate via speech.

Kingpin suggested that she date Murdock, who was still reeling from the death of his former flame, Karen Page. What Kingpin didn’t anticipate was that the two would fall for one another, so he came up with a new plan. He visited Maya’s father’s grave with her, telling her that it was Daredevil that killed her father. (If this sounds weirdly familiar, that’s because they ripped off a big chunk of Echo’s story for Elektra’s arc in the 2003 Daredevil movie.)

Maya adopted a new identity, Echo, named for her ability to echo things she sees. She dons a simple black costume, but paints a white handprint on her face to honor the bloody one her father left there when she was a child. As Echo, she confronted Daredevil in an empty playground and kicked the crap out of him before discovering his true identity. Daredevil also told her the truth about her father’s killer.

Furious, Maya shot Fisk point-blank in the face, blinding him for life. She went on the run, eventually returning to her father’s friend the Chief, who sent her on a vision quest. On the quest she met Wolverine, who helped her grapple with her past and determine a new future.

What Are Echo’s Superpowers?

Echo possesses photographic reflexes, which means she can perfectly duplicate any physical movement or action she sees after watching it only once. She shares this power with another Marvel character, the villainous Taskmaster. Echo is a concert-level pianist, an excellent dancer, a master martial artist, an expert marksman, and she is multilingual, all skills she acquired by watching others do them.

In addition to her incredible skills, Echo also eventually becomes a host for the Phoenix Force. The Phoenix Force, an ancient and nearly unstoppable destructive power, was the same entity responsible for turning X-Men‘s Jean Grey into the vengeful Phoenix. When Maya has the power of the Phoenix Force within her, she can fly, teleport, and create fire. She also becomes immortal, with superhuman strength and durability.

Who is Playing Echo on Hawkeye and Echo?

Newcomer Alaqua Cox will portray the character for the Disney+ series. Like Echo, the Indigenous actress is also deaf. Cox grew up on the Menominee Reservation in northeastern Wisconsin and is of the Menominee and Mohican nation. This will be her first major acting role.

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Why Her Series is So Exciting

Echo is a complex character, with a painful past and plenty of trauma. She’s also an inspiration, finding ways to thrive despite not being able to hear. A major television series from Disney, the biggest entertainment company on the planet, is a huge deal for people from the marginalized communities Echo represents. Co-creator Mack was thrilled with the news of Cox’s casting and the series moving forward. He tweeted in support of the series, saying:

I’ve taught at The School for the Deaf in Africa, Asia, & Europe, & they LOVE #Echo.

#ECHO in a tv series will have a huge effect. And so thankful that the #Indigenous community & #Deaf community has been rooting for her. #Gratitude

How Could Echo Fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

We already know Echo is going to be a part of the upcoming Hawkeye series starring Jeremy Renner, so it’s likely we’ll see some of Maya’s time as Ronin. She’s worked with the Avengers in the comics and could appear in any of their various spin-offs, as well. It’s a shame these series aren’t tied to the Netflix Marvel shows, because it would be a blast to see her face down Vincent D’Onofrio‘s Wilson Fisk or Charlie Cox‘s Daredevil. Maybe the folks at the MCU will bring them back and fulfill this fan’s dreams.

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