Echo EPs Explain Marvel Show’s TV-MA Rating — Plus, How Did Kingpin Survive That Gunshot Wound?

After playing the villain in Hawkeye, Alaqua Cox’s Maya Lopez will embark on a hero’s journey in the upcoming Disney+ series Echo.

Premiering all five episodes Tuesday, Jan. 9 at 9/8c on both Disney+ and Hulu, the Hawkeye spinoff finds the deaf and Indigenous martial artist returning home to confront her family and legacy while also being pursued by Wilson Fisk’s (Vincent D’Onofrio) criminal empire.

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Echo is the first Marvel series rated TV-MA to stream on Disney+, and it will launch a new subcategory under the Marvel Spotlight banner. Alaqua Cox, who plays the titular character, tells TVLine that she’s thrilled to be leading the groundbreaking venture.

“I’m able to make my own show, and the fact that it’s [rated TV-MA] for the first time and it’s also going to Hulu for the first time and Disney+, and they’re dropping all the episodes? It kind of feels like, ‘Oh, cool. I’m making history,’” she shares. “But I’m very excited for it.”

As teased in the official trailer, the show will dial up the violence with brutal sequences that don’t shy away from blood and broken limbs. And while things are poised to get gnarly — hence the mature rating — executive producer Brad Winderbaum notes that that wasn’t their main goal.

“We didn’t set out to make a TV-MA show,” the Echo EP shares. “We wanted to make a Maya Lopez show and be true to that character who has that violent past, who lives in this ethical gray area, who has a journey that can be rough at times. We ended up making a TV-MA show in order to stay true to her and her journey.

“[Director and EP] Sydney Freeland always said that the show needs to be unapologetic. When characters take a hit or when they fall, they actually get injured,” Winderbaum explains. “Keeping it grounded in that way was always really important to her.”

For Freeland, who directed all five episodes, one of the most intriguing things about Hawkeye was that Maya was a villain. In the show, Maya carried a longtime vendetta against the mysterious vigilante Ronin (Clint Barton’s post-Snap secret alias, unbeknownst to her) who had assassinated her father. In a brutal act of revenge, Maya shot Fisk at point-blank range after learning that he had orchestrated the whole thing.

“When I first came on board, and as we were talking with Marvel, their response was like, ‘Hey, let’s lean into that. Let’s go down that rabbit hole. Let’s see if we can push that envelope.’ That was really our jumping off point,” Freeland shares. “In addition to that, we knew we wanted to tell a story that was a little more intimate without sacrificing the scope and the scale. We wanted to be a little more street level, a little more grounded, a little more visceral. But those two things really lend themselves to the visual style of it.”

As for Fisk, who will now sport an eyepatch, portrayer Vincent D’Onofrio says Echo found a “really cool” way to explain how he survived that gunshot wound at close range.

“If you’re a fan of Kingpin and Daredevil — the old comics — you know that Kingpin never dies,” the actor says. “We just had to figure out a clever way of [moving] on from that shot towards the face and how we bring it into Echo, and we came up with a really cool thing. He does get hurt pretty bad.”

Are you excited for Echo? What do you hope to see in the show?

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