Marvel Studios’ Echo releases on Disney+ on January 9th, 2024. The series is a first and an important piece of Marvel Studios history. It’s the first to release all at once, instead of the weekly release model, it’s also the first in the new Marvel Spotlight series. This new, grounded, more character-centric brand of TV kicks off with Echo. We got the chance to sit down with Alaqua Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio, Chaske Spencer, Devery Jacobs, Sydney Freeland, and Brad Winderbaum with moderator Seth Fairchild, Executive Director of Culture for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

During the press conference, they talked all about the upcoming series and how it accurately reflects the culture of Native peoples. Here’s what Alaqua Cox had to say about Maya and her character.

So, Maya is a deaf indigenous person who has a biological family and a adopted family, and she’s trying to reconnect with her family after finding out that her adopted family, her uncle specifically, betrayed her.  So, she went back to reconnect with her biological family and try to rediscover a more complicated and deep life that she did live, and rediscover family.  So, I’m hoping that she can learn, and we can all learn, how she rediscovered family.

Alaqua Cox

Vincent D’Onofrio had this to say about the enduring popularity and intrigue with his character Kingpin.

I’ve just been lucky to get the opportunity, beginning with the Netflix show, with really good writing to bring him forward in I guess a kind of new way, but just my version of what they did in the original comics.  And then, now in Echo, you know, it’s just more good writing and, you know, without the writing, you know, I can’t really do much other than, you know, show up.  And so, the writing is there, and it gives me the opportunity to bring the character forward.

I think, with Echo, is the first time since the Netflix show when I’ve actually felt like we brought Fisk into Maya’s story, but in a way that Fisk is, I think, best portrayed.  It’s very similar to the way it was in the original series.  And that’s very exciting for me always, ’cause it has a more grittier feel to it and it’s a more emotional story with me and Alaqua’s character, Maya.

Vincent D’Onofrio

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios’ Echo, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

The most important thing it feels like for Marvel Studios, is accurately representing the Choctaw Nation in the series, since it takes place in Oklahoma. Here’s what Sydney Freeland had to say about representing the Choctaw people and their culture in the series.

Yeah, you know, I think, you know, just for myself, you know, representation was, you know, it wasn’t something that was “if,” it was always something that was a necessity, you know.

I think one of the things that was important for us was being able to engage with the Choctaw Nation very early on.  And I remember we came presented to you all at the Choctaw Center.  And really, for myself, there was two things.  One was to ask permission, you know, was to ask permission from the Choctaw Nation to be portrayed ’cause I feel like a lot of times what happens with Native and Indigenous stories is that people come in and they say, “We’re gonna tell you what the story we’re gonna tell.”  And we wanted to take a different approach and we wanted to engage you.

I’m Navajo and we’re telling a Choctaw story.  So for me, it was an absolute necessity that we engage the Choctaw Nation to tell that story.

Finally, Brad Winderbaum had this to say about the more mature tone and feel of Echo.

You know, Echo is a more adult show.  It’s our first TV-MA show, but we didn’t set out to make a TV-MA show.  We set out to make a Maya Lopez show.  And this is a character who has a violent past, who’s dealt with some real trauma, who has really difficult decisions to make and ultimately has to you know, confront people she loves in order to grow and change.

And in following this character, it created the tone.  It created a grittier, more grounded story for the audience.  That just so happened to be more adult.  More TV-MA.  But it really was always born from Maya as a character.

Brad Winderbaum

You can watch Marvel Studios’ Echo on Hulu and Disney+ with all five episodes starting on January 9th, 2024.

For more on Marvel, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.

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