“Echoes” introduces a much-anticipated fan-favorite character while dropping some tantalizing hints for the future of the MCU.
I know I keep saying this about Hawkeye, but it’s true again: “Echoes” is fun to watch. You can tell the showrunners put a lot of thought into crafting scenes that are both fun and dramatic, then breaking the humor up with heart-wrenching moments (Echo finding her father dying, Clint speaking to his son with Kate’s translation).
The warehouse fight scene with the Tracksuit Mafia is one of the best in the MCU so far, in my opinion. Because it’s light-hearted I know that some people will rate it lower than, say, the famous single-take fight in Daredevil (which is admittedly awesome). Levity and playfulness are frequently taken less seriously than drama. However, I think it’s technically beautiful and just a joy to watch.
The extended vehicle fight scene is another favorite of mine, and pretty well executed. It was interesting to see how Clint and Kate manage fighting together and coordinating when Clint can’t hear her and she is unfamiliar with his quiver. In fact, he’d told her trick arrows weren’t even a thing, so she had a major learning curve there.
That brings me to a major point of discussion for “Echoes”: the ways in which the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community interacts with a society that is obstinately inaccessible. This is a topic close to my heart. I was 80% deaf until I was about 6. Mine was a structural issue that was correctable through surgery, but there’s an even chance I’ll lose my hearing again at some point.
My family never integrated me into the community because I was “fixable” (which is its own problem), so I want to be clear that I’m not trying to speak for everyone deaf or HOH. I just really feel drawn to characters who have hearing issues. It’s why I love the Fraction/Aja run of Hawkeye and why I’m so excited that the TV series makes his hearing loss screen canon.
It’s also why I’m excited to see Echo. We don’t hear that name spoken, but comic fans know who Maya Lopez is. In the comics, Maya lost her hearing as a child and had to learn to lip-read and study body language to get by in a hearing society. It remains to be seen if she’ll have her comic ability to closely copy people’s moves, which the comics call “photographic reflexes”.
The show has already changed her backstory a little. In the comics, she was the adopted daughter of Kingpin, taken in as her father’s dying wish (after Kingpin killed him, by the way). In the show, it looks like he is an Uncle figure, and we know that Ronin killed her father. That could have a major effect on whether she stays involved in the criminal world longer before realizing Wilson Fisk isn’t a great guy.
I do want to make a quick side note that early versions of Echo’s character were a little problematic in how her hearing loss was treated. This review is about the show, so I’m going to take her character as presented. After all, Disney and Marvel have been making some changes to fix some historically problematic issues. Though they’re not perfect (faaaar from it) I believe in rewarding effort where I see it.
Maya’s character in “Echoes” adds on- and off- screen diversity in a couple of ways. Besides the obvious factor that Hawkeye’s Maya is deaf, she’s half-Latina and half-Cheyenne. Actress Alaqua Cox is also deaf and has a prosthetic leg, which has been incorporated into Echo’s character. We don’t have tons of representation there in the MCU. Some angry Internet fanboys are mad about how “woke” the MCU is getting… but come on, people. The original 6 Avengers were 5 white guys and a single white woman. There is a LOT of room to improve diversity in the MCU.
“Echoes” does a pretty good job of showing what it’s like living with hearing loss. One nice touch is how they handle sound mixing differently for Maya, who is fully deaf, and Clint, who is extremely hard of hearing. Maya can only tell what people are saying when they’re facing her or signing. Clint gets a vague distorted sound, nothing discernible but enough to make him look around.
Watching little Maya struggle to follow along in class because the teacher keeps turning her back was hard to watch. Yes, the teacher says something about an interpreter- but isn’t that the school’s job to provide one? Why does a child have to muddle through? Why was the special school inaccessible to Maya because her father couldn’t afford it?
(Also why didn’t Kingpin pay for the special school? Wouldn’t that have solidified her father’s loyalty? Maybe they weren’t close until Ronin killed so many people?)
I love the interaction where Echo sees Clint’s hearing aid and addresses him in sign language. Both his discomfort and awkwardness as he tries to explain and her frustration that he is relying on technology have a genuine ring to them. I’d love to see more interactions between them that don’t cater to the hearing folk around them. Of course, Clint as someone who lost his hearing older will probably always speak as he signs, but Echo does not. I like how she doesn’t give a crap.
Clint’s history as Ronin continues to be a central plot point, but we’re finally coming back to what the Tracksuit Mafia was after with the auction theft. I thought Kate had noticed the watch when she was chasing Lucky. Apparently, she did not, because when Clint asked if they were looking for anything in specific she had no idea.
I bet Lucky knows. He’s such a good boy. It would be a good reason for them to bring him along.
By the end of “Echoes”, we have several plotlines twining together. What was the Tracksuit Mafia looking for at the auction? What is up with Jack? Is Kate’s mom somehow connected to the bad guys or have they just infiltrated her company? Will it come out that Clint Barton was also Ronin Will Echo stay on the bad guy team or make a switch to an antihero or hero role? How will Kate take over the Hawkeye role? Who will get to take Lucky home in the end?
3 more episodes hardly seem like enough space. It’s what we’ve got, though, so let’s hope the creative team continues to hit those high notes.
A few parting thoughts:
- There are a couple of references to comic book costumes in “Echoes”. First, Echo’s father leaves a handprint in blood on her face (which is a recurring costume note for her). Second, Kate tries to convince Clint to try out a “better branded” costume that looks a lot like his traditional purple getup. Given this, do you think she’s going to have a fancy costume when she takes the Hawkeye mantle? Or will she learn to be subtle because archers fight better from ambush?
- It boggles my mind that random street gangs still think that they can hang on to an Avenger for any length of time. Why wouldn’t they just approach him and try talking in a civil manner first? He is famously a superhero. A reasonable person might think that he would help them fight a villain.
- Did anyone else cry a little listening to Clint pretend he could hear his son speaking? I think that drove home to Kate what the costs of the superhero life are, too, which is a pretty important lesson she blew off when Clint tried to explain.
- I’ve been seeing some Internet gripping about how Kate is reckless and a bit of a spoiled rich girl. I don’t mean to True Fan anyone… but that’s, uhhh, a big part of her original character arc. She has to learn her way out of that. We are already seeing it happen. I for one love that she is not a perfect character and that the writers are letting her make mistakes.
- I know Echo is getting her own show but since it doesn’t even have an anticipated release date, I am very curious about what Marvel is doing with Kingpin. He is a pretty big character to be a background player.
- If Clint doesn’t take that dog home to his kids it will be a major injustice.
Check back next week to see what we think of Episode 4. If you didn’t get a chance to see “Echoes”, you can watch it on Disney+.
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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