Bullseye

Who is Echo in Hawkeye? Marvel’s game-changing new villain, explained

The one pulling the strings in this Disney+ series? Your new favorite MCU character.

Hawkeye just revealed all sorts of colorful characters, from Lucky the Pizza Dog to Vera Farmiga’s security-obsessed matriarch to the eternally bro-y tracksuit mafia. But each of these characters were revealed over the course of the show’s recent episode, an unusual display of generosity from Marvel, which usually shores up all its big reveals as end-of-episode stingers.

True to form, though, the end of Hawkeye Episode 2 has a much bigger trick up its sleeve. After the tracksuit mafia successfully capture Clint and Kate, they report to their boss: a fierce-looking woman with her hair in braids.

Who is this figure? Hawkeye’s producer weighs in on this new character and why she’s so important.

Who is Echo, aka Maya Lopez?

Echo’s story, as shown in Daredevil Vol. 2 #55, published in 2004. Marvel Comics

Maya Lopez, aka Echo, is a classic Marvel Comics character who has appeared in various storylines as a pawn of the Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio in Netflix’s recent Daredevil series) and eventually a member of the New Avengers.

Maya is a member of the Cheyenne Nation of Native Americans; she was born Deaf. Maya actually originated the superhero alter ego of Ronin in the comics, before debuting as Echo years later. Of course, this can’t be true in the MCU, as the title Ronin has been passed from Clint (who fought as Ronin in the dark pre-Endgame years) to Kate (who puts on the suit out of necessity after the auction).

Echo, Maya’s superhero identity, reflects who she was before a troubling childhood under the Kingpin’s thumb. Her powers give her photographic reflexes, allowing her to mimic any movement after seeing it once. Growing up, Maya excelled in the arts; in comics, Echo is seen performing stories on stage made up of music, dance, and sign language, all depicted in collage.

Why does Echo matter?

Maya Lopez in Hawkeye.Marvel Studios

Echo’s inclusion in Hawkeye is a huge moment for representation in the MCU, but only thanks to careful casting. Alaqua Cox, a Deaf Native American actress, brings the character to life in Hawkeye. Deaf characters in the MCU aren’t really new — Makkari in Eternals and the actress portraying her are Deaf, and Clint Barton experiences hearing loss during his time with the Avengers, leading to hearing aids.

What is groundbreaking for the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the fact Cox is both Deaf and Native American. The intersection of these two identities means Cox fits the role perfectly. The next episode of the series will surely be a formidable showcase for the star.

“We really wanted to stay true to her character in the comics, which is why casting Alaqua who is Deaf and and Native American was really important to us,” Hawkeye executive producer Trinh Tran tells Inverse. “She just brings in a different perspective in the MCU.”

Tran says Cox’s casting is just the start. “We need to fill our space up with a diverse group of people,” she says. “Everybody who's watching these series and these projects, they're all different. They all come from different backgrounds, different cultures, so to have people look up and watch somebody who is similar in their background and see them on screen, I think that's important. That speaks to the relatability factor.”

What does Echo’s appearance mean for Hawkeye and Phase 4?

Maya and Matt Murdock share a tender moment in Daredevil Vol. 2 #55, published in 2004. Marvel Comics

Probably the biggest implication of Echo’s MCU debut is her connection to other key Marvel characters. In the comics, she was introduced as the Kingpin’s weapon of choice as part of the criminal mastermind’s plot to kill Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil. What nobody expected was for romantic sparks to fly between Echo and Murdock, leading her to defect from Kingpin’s side. While Daredevil and Echo don’t end up together in the comics, their tension is palpable.

Now Echo is part of the MCU, is it only a matter of time before her love interest is reintroduced as well? Maybe that big Spider-Man: No Way Home theory will turn out to be true.

Even if her appearance doesn’t lead to a Daredevil reunion, Echo is set to headline her own Disney+ series, meaning this isn’t the last we’ll see of her, not by a long shot.

Hawkeye is now streaming on Disney+.