OFF-TOPIC (54)

By: Adam McGovern
November 6, 2023

TRAILER TRASHTALK: ECHO!

It’s time to pull up your popcorn for the severely occasional series in which premature judgments are made on what little information Hollywood sees fit to let us look at!

Marvel’s Echo series earns its anticipation honestly; Alaqua Cox’s tortured, smoldering performance as the character in the Hawkeye series was sheer charisma, and helped that show attain a range and gravitas that balanced its also-expert thrills and comedy to make it one of Disney+-era Marvel TV’s best. But as we know in the fast-paced, consumer-advisory 21st century, metrics are more exciting than actual storylines and summaries are better than art. So, at the start of the month when Echo was scheduled to drop all five (already enigmatically shortened from six) episodes (now shuffled to Jan. 10), we get to enjoy instead… an almost-two-minute trailer! So let’s dive in deep and abruptly crack our heads!

The good news is that this is the rare trailer for anything from a car-chase blockbuster to a rom-com whose soundtrack isn’t punctuated by that ubiquitous percussive note that sounds like a vault-door slamming and keeps speeding up like a heart attack; the bad news is that the vault-slam is replaced with the sound of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin/Wilson Fisk beating some culturally insensitive hotdog vendor to a pulp, which persists beyond the scene and throughout the trailer and puts me in mind of Scott Walker’s use of a prizefighter pummeling sides of beef in lieu of drums, only without the good humor. Starting with Fisk’s appalled incidental witness of the hotdog guy ridiculing the child who will become Echo (and Fisk’s adoptive daughter & murder-protégé) for her deafness, it’s actually an almost poetically horrific expression of the trailer’s overall theme of sinister sentimentality and abusive love, except that, unlike Fisk himself, the filmmakers don’t seem to know when enough is enough. Though going too far with anything in under two minutes is one kind of accomplishment.

But the problems set in much sooner than that. Fisk is the kind of male who’s more than satisfied doing all the talking, and whoever made the trailer is too quick to let him; his voiceover takes us through the whole thing, and so, guess what, some white guy gets to define the narrative and almost seem as if he’s the star (but as Marty Scorsese might agree, that’s cinema). Echo/Maya Lopez’s life-backstory and homecoming milieu amidst her Choctaw origins is montaged into the background, behind Fisk’s monologue about how only he understands her, culminating in the standard “we are the same, you and I” trope which falls a bit flatter than usual since, while he’s clearly floating it to beg for his life while she’s training a gun on him, it’s usually uttered by a badguy to shake the confidence and concentration of an ostensible goodguy, but director Sydney Freeland has made clear that in this series, Maya herself remains a “villain.” This is what you get in a promo whose tagline, “No bad deed goes unpunished,” doesn’t know that it’s not actually a play on words.

I guess we need something literal since Freeland has also emphasized that Echo’s defining ability from the comics, that she has photographic reflexes like Taskmaster from Black Widow and can mimic any opponent’s fighting style, is “lame” and will not be acknowledged as her power in this series. It’s always a great omen when one of the people making a genre adaption openly ridicules the source material (see: “Kenneth Johnson, Incredible Hulk”), but I guess this leaves us with Maya and Fisk being the same, she and he, as the “echo.”

Of course what trailers are all about is the playback, the frame-by-frame second-guessing or confirmation of what you think you saw, and much of what flashes by at subliminal duration, from interestingly varied cinematography, to mature-for-Marvel grittiness and unglamorized violence, to different points on Maya’s lifeline and Cox’s brilliantly-acted expressive arc, to a split-second of her awesomely kicking Daredevil’s ass, looks promising; as long as Echo doesn’t end up as the guest-star of her own show as she has in its trailer, and if Marvel is ready to get its hands dirty in ways that are worth it.

See for yourself and draw your conclusions, here.

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MORE POSTS by ADAM McGOVERN: OFF-TOPIC (2019–2023 monthly) | textshow (2018 quarterly) | PANEL ZERO (comics-related Q&As, 2018 monthly) | THIS: (2016–2017 weekly) | PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL, a 5-part series about characters in McGovern’s and Paolo Leandri’s comic Nightworld | Two IDORU JONES comics by McGovern and Paolo Leandri | BOWIEOLOGY: Celebrating 50 years of Bowie | ODD ABSURDUM: How Felix invented the 21st century self | KOJAK YOUR ENTHUSIASM: FAWLTY TOWERS | KICK YOUR ENTHUSIASM: JACKIE McGEE | NERD YOUR ENTHUSIASM: JOAN SEMMEL | SWERVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRO and THE LEON SUITES | FIVE-O YOUR ENTHUSIASM: JULIA | FERB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: KIMBA THE WHITE LION | CARBONA YOUR ENTHUSIASM: WASHINGTON BULLETS | KLAATU YOU: SILENT RUNNING | CONVOY YOUR ENTHUSIASM: QUINTET | TUBE YOUR ENTHUSIASM: HIGHWAY PATROL | #SQUADGOALS: KAMANDI’S FAMILY | QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM: LUCKY NUMBER | CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM: JIREL OF JOIRY | KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM: Data 70 | HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM: “Freedom” | KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM: Captain Camelot | KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: Full Fathom Five | A 5-part series on Jack Kirby’s Fourth World mythos | Reviews of Annie Nocenti’s comics Katana, Catwoman, Klarion, and Green Arrow | The curated series FANCHILD | To see all of Adam’s posts, including HiLo Hero items on Lilli Carré, Judy Garland, Wally Wood, and others: CLICK HERE

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