‘Echo’: Maya Lopez’s Hero (and Villain) Journey
“The goal was never to turn her from a villain to a hero. The goal was never to turn her into Captain America.”
Is Maya Lopez a villain? It’s a little bit more complicated than a yes or no answer, especially considering the events of Marvel Studios’ Echo. Yes, Maya does bad things — like, really bad things over the course of the season. But does she also help save her friends and family when they need her most? Also, yes. The creative team behind the show is more than willing to debate at length Maya’s decision to operate in the grey area.
Considering the previous events of Hawkeye, where viewers first met Maya, she starts off the series largely known as a foe. And along with Maya’s growing body count in Echo, director and executive producer Sydney Freeland tells Marvel.com, “The goal was never to turn her from a villain to a hero. The goal was never to turn her into Captain America.”
Instead, Maya has her eyes on a different prize: Replacing Kingpin, who she believes is dead. A Queenpin, if you will. At the start of the season, Maya has one goal and is willing to do whatever it takes to obtain it to assert her dominance over her former father-figure’s empire.
“Maya is an incredible character because she balances good and evil,” Executive Producer Brad Winderbaum explains. “She's not what you think of as a classic Marvel Silver Age hero. She lives in a morally gray area.”
Over the course of five episodes, viewers start to learn a little more about what makes Maya tick, and see her weigh out the good, the bad, and the very bad options. Knowing in hindsight what it took Maya to even get her in the first place, viewers quickly learn that “Some of it is not her fault,” Winderbaum continues. “Certainly, Kingpin's influence was not good for her growing up, her father's influence in many ways. But even her father, who was a criminal himself, loved his daughter, wanted the best for her. There's no simple right or wrong in this season. Even Kingpin has love in his own way for Maya.”
Even by the end of all five episodes, everything is still in the grey territory. “What the show does an amazing job of doing is giving you empathy for this woman and her journey, and really puts you in her shoes so that you have to ask yourself what decisions you would make and whether or not you would make the same decision she did along her journey,” Winderbaum adds. “She is a killer. She has made massive mistakes. And I think it's fun to debate whether she is redeemable in some ways.”
Freeland was really striving to create a sense of balance within Maya, where she herself — and viewers — could weigh her choices together.
“It isn't about taking a character from one extreme to another,” She explains. “It's about taking a character and creating a sense of balance within them. If you look at the course of this series, there's one thing at stake here, which is that for Maya to truly get her goal at the beginning of the season, she would have to sacrifice her humanity. She's presented with this choice to give that up or preserve that. She does, she chooses the latter. I think that's one of the great things that we get to say so much in such a small amount of time.”
“She's honestly such a complicated person,” Star Alaqua Cox explains. “I have to remember that she is not a bad person because she grew up with a lot of trauma because her adopted uncle murdered her father and she had to find that out herself, which just made everything worse. She feels all that rage and revenge. She wants to kill people.”
But by Episode 5, Maya can identify what kind of person she wants to be — even if for right now that does mean stepping into a new space. “She's able to solve that rage and reconnect with her biological family and become peaceful and then become the hero,” Cox adds.
However, there’s still a long way for Maya to go on this journey, and there might still be questionable choices for her in the future.
“I actually don't know it's even about redemption for Maya yet,” Executive Producer Richie Palmer muses. “By the end of the show, I'm not sure where she lies. I think she's just happy to go home for Sunday dinner with her family, and that everyone survived the journey. I do think she's pretty bad for most of this show, she's fighting that good. Her family, Bonnie especially, they're like, Maya, don't be like this. Don't be like your dad was. Don't do this. And I don't think she hears them until the very end.”
No bad deed goes unpunished. Echo is now streaming on Disney+, and available on Hulu until April 9, 2024.
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