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iInterview | SYDNEY FREELAND gives voice to Marvel Studios’ ECHO

A Behind The Scenes Interview

For too long marginalized people were under-represented in Hollywood, and winning creatives like writer/director Sydney Freeland are getting attention on making certain that authentic stories get the proper spotlight they deserve.

Sydney Freeland on set

Since its inception in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has unraveled a narrative across blockbuster features and franchises that have incorporated a legacy of many cherished characters that have been on the pop culture lexicon for more than 80 years. The marvelous Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (along with the legendary Steve Ditko) laid pen to paper and gave us super-powered heroes like Spider-Man, The Hulk, and The Mighty Avengers, which resonated with readers on a level, unlike the competitor imprints.

Sydney Freeland with the ECHO cast and crew.
Sydney Freeland with the ECHO cast and crew.

The publishing universe only continued to grow and diversify its roster with Black Panther, The Uncanny X-Men, and a myriad more costumed adventurers that have only expanded in the ensuing decades. On the big screen, Marvel Studios capitalized on the growing mythology with an unprecedented decision to institute an interconnected narrative that began with the introduction of Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr. as the billionaire arms dealer turned technological entrepreneur, and soon Tony Stark would be joined by the rest of his iconic avenging line-up.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios' Echo, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2023. All Rights Reserved.
Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios' Echo, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2023. All Rights Reserved.

Under the stewardship of studio president Kevin Feige, as the first phase of the MCU moved to its very dramatic endgame, the directive to begin to inhabit the universe with characters that more appropriately reflected today’s multicultural audiences became a significant motivator. With the launch of the Disney+ streaming service, the spotlight could be tightened and focused on telling stories that are more richly character-driven leading to exciting spin-offs like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and the introduction of Ms. Marvel a teenage superhero fangirl from Jersey who is also a Muslim.

Spinning out of the successful Hawkeye series starring Jeremy Renner reprising his role as the Avenging Archer, Marvel set up the New York City criminal underworld ruled by the notorious Kingpin (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) who first was featured in the hugely popular Daredevil series. Leading the band of made men in his army, was the master assassin Maya Lopez, as portrayed by Alaqua Cox. The deaf amputee rises above these otherwise difficult challenges and formidable takes on doing Kingpin’s dirty work until she learns a harsh truth about her backstory.

Tasked with giving the character her voice in her 5-episode series, filmmaker Sydney Freeland a comic book enthusiast herself, joined the crew to build the complex and textured world of Marvel Studios’ ECHO and provide an authentic perspective that would provide reality to Marvel’s newest hero of Indigenous Peoples origins. The Emmy-nominated writer, director, and executive producer, who is also trans and a Navajo Native American shared her story and dedication to putting the spotlight on authentic stories representing Indigenous Peoples across all media.

Get your #FansEyeView of the full “Out Loud & Live!” interview on YouTube featuring SYDNEY FREELAND below and also subscribe on Apple Podcast:

Marvel Studios ECHO | is available to stream now on Disney+.

ECHO poster art

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