Alaqua Cox’s Maya Lopez immediately stood out when she appeared in Disney Plus’ Hawkeye back in 2021. Among a cast of charismatic goofballs and assassins with hearts of gold, Maya was a terrifyingly deadly foil, constantly reminding the audience and characters of the stakes. Disney was so enamored with Cox’s portrayal of the deaf Native American heroine, it greenlit a spinoff, and on Friday we got our first look at it. We also got the surprising announcement that the show, Echo, would be coming to Disney Plus and Hulu simultaneously.
This news comes just a few days after Disney committed to buying Comcast’s stake in Hulu and right as we all begin to wonder what that means for the future of the smaller streaming service. Hulu doesn’t have nearly the same subscription base as Disney Plus, but what it’s had going for it is live TV and a willingness to stream much more violent and “adult” content than the kid-friendly Disney Plus.
Watching the trailer for Echo, which includes people being beaten to death and shot in the head, it’s pretty clear why it would make its way to Hulu. That’s where stuff like Y: The Last Man, about the graphic death of all creatures with Y chromosomes, and Handmaid’s Tale, about the violently graphic subjugation of women in a patriarchal theocracy, stream. When Disney first launched Disney Plus, it differentiated between the two services in a similar fashion. Disney Plus was where you went to watch stuff with the whole family. Hulu is what you watched after the kids went to bed.
But as Disney’s gotten more adventurous with programming on Disney Plus, the lines have blurred with more adult fare like Loki and Andor. Premiering Echo, which stars a character who first appeared on Disney Plus, on Hulu makes sense in that context. Echo looks way too violent for Disney Plus — even if the earlier seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones (both originally produced for Netflix) are on the service.
But the show couldn’t have appeared on Hulu and not Disney Plus, given Disney Plus is where the Marvel canon lives — thus, the simultaneous release. I’m sure the fact that Echo’s executive producer, Sydney Freeland, previously worked on Reservation Dogs at Hulu helped as well.
The show will premiere on both services on January 10th, and as Variety noted in a story today, it will feature a largely Indigenous cast and make Maya’s Choctaw heritage a prominent part of the story. Notably, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk is also playing a big part in the show. Fisk was originally introduced on Daredevil and made a surprise return in Hawkeye. Presumably, he’ll also return for the next season of Daredevil, but that show is facing a major production overhaul after Marvel hated the direction of the show and its focus on courtroom drama instead of the violent action sequences that helped the original show break out on Netflix.
If Daredevil is planning to be as violent as Echo appears to be, it will likely also appear on both streamers. So Echo is, in a sense, a test balloon for Disney as it figures out how to make these two streamers — including the new one it’s about to own outright — work together.