Echo, the upcoming Marvel Studios' web series, will kickstart a new label in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Dubbed ‘Marvel Spotlight,' the new banner will allow audiences to jump into a superhero's arc without worrying about continuity or having to catch up on other projects in the franchise. It is named after the anthology comic book series — originated in 1979 — serving as standalone origins stories for Spider-Woman and Ghost Rider as a gateway for new audiences. While the character of Echo, played by Alaqua Cox, was featured in the Jeremy Renner-led Hawkeye series, there's absolutely no reason for newbies to be aware of its events.
“Marvel Spotlight gives us a platform to bring more grounded, character-driven stories to the screen, and in the case of Echo, focusing on street-level stakes over larger MCU continuity,” Brad Winderbaum, Marvel's Head of Streaming said in a prepared statement. “Just like comics fans didn't need to read Avengers or Fantastic Four to enjoy a Ghost Rider Spotlight comic, our audience doesn't need to have seen other Marvel series to understand what's happening in Maya's story.” While the concept of standalone shows under a new banner makes sense, especially considering the massive catalogue of MCU films and shows, I'm a little sceptical given how heavily the MCU is used to incorporating callbacks and easter eggs to other films. I wouldn't be surprised if the series finale ended with a post-credits scene that tied it into Hawkeye or some larger event in the franchise.
A complete detachment from other projects is pretty much impossible since Echo is poised to have run-ins with Charlie Cox's Daredevil and her adoptive father Kingpin, played by Vincent D'Onofrio. The new Disney+ Daredevil arc is also undergoing a complete reboot, so who knows where that story is headed. Regardless, Marvel Studios has now indirectly admitted that there's way too much content to comb through and that it's basically crumbling under its own weight since the epic saga began with 2008's Iron Man. Teenagers who grew up with those movies are adults now, and it's kind of silly to expect a new generation of audience to keep up with 15 years' worth of lore — especially when the superhero movie fatigue is at an all-time high. With new projects piling on, it's better to make a distinction between larger MCU tales and the stories that are disconnected from it — while still retaining the same actors.
Try not to confuse this with DC Studios' Elseworlds strategy, which is set to introduce two Batmen — Matt Reeves' The Batman: Part II and Andy Muschietti's The Brave and the Bold — whose unique arcs run parallel to each other. The stories told in Marvel Spotlight do eventually tie into the larger MCU mythos, but you don't need to do any homework to get into them. Last week, the studio dropped the first trailer for Echo, which showed Wilson Fisk protecting and raising a deaf Native American Maya Lopez into an adept assassin. Canonically, set after the events of Hawkeye, the five-episode series will see her try to reconnect with her Native roots while resolving some deep vendetta with her adoptive father.
All five episodes of Echo drop January 10 on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar.
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