The question of how Echo fits into Daredevil continuity is alive and well. As the series readies for a simultaneous premiere on the all-ages Disney Plus and the more grown-up Hulu, along with Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio reprising their roles as Matt Murdock and the Kingpin Wilson Fisk, some kind of continuation is expected.
But at the same time, Marvel Studio has labeled Echo as the first installment of its own Marvel Spotlight umbrella, made for shows that don’t require you to have watched previous installments. And the MCU’s Netflix spinoffs — while must-see TV in their time — have been barely hinted at since their summary cancellations at the close of the last decade.
To executive producer Richie Palmer, Echo’s relationship with its hit Netflix predecessor and with Marvel’s new Marvel Spotlight designation both come from the same source: honoring the singular Daredevil and Echo stories that have come before this one. In Palmer’s eyes, there’s a direct line from David Mack and Joe Quesada’s late-’90s run on Daredevil (which introduced Maya Lopez as Echo in the first place) to Marvel’s Spotlight designation.
“The things that Matt Murdock was dealing with in those comics were so dark and violent, and they didn’t quite necessarily fit in with what was going on in the larger comics canon at the time,” Palmer told Polygon. “We wanted to figure out, when we were bringing Maya Lopez to life, how do we honor that aspect of the comics? How do we keep it dark and gritty and separated from everything else that was going on?
“And then Kevin [Feige] came in, as we were editing the show, and we were seeing how dark we were pushing it. And he was saying, Don’t hold back on the violence, don’t hold back on the grit and this grounded tone, it’s what’s making this show so unique and special. So Marvel Spotlight kind of came from Kevin.”
The original “Marvel Spotlight” was a 1971 anthology comic designed to showcase a new, original Marvel hero as often as possible; a testing ground for characters to find an audience without the risk of launching a whole series. And it’s a series with a bit of a history of being different than the usual Marvel fare. With the restrictive Comics Code finally loosening the same year as its debut, Spotlight became a place for Marvel to try out the kind of dark supernatural stories that had been verboten in American comics for over a decade. And so, Marvel Spotlight’s biggest success stories include Spider-Woman, yes, but also Ghost Rider, Werewolf by Night, and Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan.
But was Marvel Studios’ Spotlight created because Echo is more like the Netflix shows than core MCU fare? Or was Echo just the right show at the right time for a plan already in the making?
“It was a little bit of both,” Palmer was quick to answer. “I think it was us saying, You know what? Echo wants to be its own thing. So let’s allow it to be.”
“I think [Marvel Spotlight is] our way of trying to take these relatively obscure characters from the comics and tell real character-driven stories about them,” Palmer said, “and honor the world that they came from, and help them find their place in the larger MCU.”
For Palmer, the world they came from is a big one, including the original comics, like Mack and Quesada’s Daredevil run and the Marvel Knights imprint, Marvel’s Netflix originals, and even movies like 2003’s Daredevil and Punisher: War Zone. The goal, according to Palmer, was to honor the tone set by the Netflix shows, and make the Maya of 2024 feel like she could have belonged in the Daredevil show of 2015.
But is 2015’s Daredevil still MCU canon? Palmer puts it in comic book terms.
“When different teams of writers and artists picked up different characters from one to another, it definitely honored what came before it, and just helped push it forward. And I think that going from the Netflix series, which we all really loved, and our fans really loved, we wanted to be able to honor that, but make subtle nods that these characters are in the MCU now. But really, it’s all one universe.”
So, is Netflix’s Daredevil the same Daredevil who’ll appear in Echo? Yes. Will he maybe be slightly different because he’s in the MCU now? Yes. As with most issues with continuity, perhaps the best advice is to paraphrase the theme song of Mystery Science Theater 3000: You’ll enjoy it more if you don’t think about it too hard.