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Echo Team Watched Supercut of Daredevil/Kingpin Scenes for Inspiration – The Hollywood Reporter – Best IPTV Subscription Provider

Echo Team Watched Supercut of Daredevil/Kingpin Scenes for Inspiration – The Hollywood Reporter – Best IPTV Subscription Provider

[This story contains spoilers for Echo.]

There are certain television shows that people within the entertainment industry all watch and admire, and one of those shows was Better Call Saul, the celebrated prequel-sequel to the almighty Breaking Bad. The number of influential filmmakers who watched Saul is at least a mile long (Steven Soderbergh, Guillermo del Toro, Darren Aronofsky to name a few), and the brass at Marvel Studios are all included in that group. So it was hardly a surprise when Marvel sought out Saul writer-producer Marion Dayre to lead the writers’ room of Echo, a mature miniseries that’s centered on Maya Lopez/Echo (Alaqua Cox), who was first introduced as Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk’s (Vincent D’Onofrio) deaf enforcer on Hawkeye (2021).

Under the tutelage of Saul co-creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, Dayre became a two-time WGA Award-nominated tv writer. She first co-wrote season two’s “Klick,” which put Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) on a collision course with Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) via a simple note on the former’s station wagon (“Don’t”). Her Saul career then concluded with season five’s “Dedicado a Max,” as Mike and Gus got back on the same vengeful page in front of the latter’s monument to his fallen partner, Max. So, Marvel, for their most grounded drama to date, wanted a similar character-driven approach to Maya, her Indigenous family and her surrogate father, Fisk.

“There were several instances where we talked about character development in the vein of Better Call Saul. They [Marvel] were very familiar with the Better Call Saul characters,” Dayre tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We were all like, ‘Let’s make [Echo] a grounded character story and something that is different from what we’ve seen before. Let’s really let Maya tell her truth.’ So, of course, that really spoke to me after coming from [Saul co-creators] Vince [Gilligan] and Peter’s [Gould] camp.”

Marvel boss Kevin Feige has previously talked about Saul’s influence on Black Widow (2021), while Loki executive producer Kevin R. Wright has followed suit in regard to his own beloved MCU series. Hawkeye EP Trinh Tran also told THR that Tony Dalton’s scene-stealing baddie on Saul, Lalo Salamanca, factored into the actor’s casting on that 2021 series. Michael Mando, who played the fan-favorite character of Ignacio Varga on Saul, also portrayed Mac “Scorpion” Gargan in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Bad and Saul’s Emmy-winning editor Kelley Dixon helped cut The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Dayre, who’s from the same state of Nebraska where Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman lived on the lam as Cinnabon manager Gene Takovic, was joined by a few more of her former collaborators on Echo, including Emmy-nominated Bad and Saul editor Chris McCaleb, as well as composer of the entire Breaking Bad universe, Dave Porter. Joey Liew, who served a variety of roles on Bad and Saul including editor, was also one of Echo’s first assistant editors.

With significant opportunities waiting in the wings, Dayre departed Saul after season five, its most critically acclaimed season to that point, which meant that she got to enjoy the subsequent final season as a fan.

“Heading into the final season, we knew that Jimmy [Bob Odenkirk] was going to have a redemption arc and that Kim [Rhea Seehorn] was going to come back into the story and that it was probably going to bring them back to the Midwest,” Dayre says. “But I didn’t know about the Marion [Carol Burnett] character. That was a fun surprise when I heard about that. So I couldn’t have been more proud or happy with the way that they landed all of it.

Below, during a recent spoiler conversation with THR, Dayre also discusses Echo’s diverse writers’ room and how it informed Maya’s journey. Then she explains why Charlie Cox’s Matt “Daredevil” Murdock could only serve a small yet impactful role.

When you left Better Call Saul following season five, did you have some sense that new opportunities were on the horizon?

I did know, yes, but I had no idea that something like Echo was in store. There were some other opportunities on the table, but it’s always a surprise. So it was a failure of imagination to try and lay out the path of what my next several years would look like, and it’s been wild and amazing.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios’ Echo

Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel

How did the ball get rolling on Echo?

They reached out to me, and they asked me to come in for a meeting. I didn’t know what project it was for until I agreed to take the meeting, and I was thrilled when I found out that it was for Echo. I couldn’t have been more excited to work with this character and play in a sandbox like this. I’m also a fan of [co-creator of the Echo comic character] David W. Mack from way back, and I’m lucky to have gotten to know him in the course of this. So I was really excited about this character because the slate was so open. There was an open sky, and we didn’t know a whole lot about her from the comics other than the people that she was with in the comics. So I was just really excited about all the avenues that were available to us when we started.

Vincent D’Onofrio made sure David Mack got some spotlight on the red carpet, which was nice to see.

It was well deserved. David is a great guy.

You mentioned that Marvel Studios reached out to you, and that makes sense since I’ve long noticed that the Marvel brass are all big fans of Better Call Saul. Kevin Feige noted that it was an influence on Black Widow, and then they hired the likes of you, Michael Mando, Tony Dalton and Kelley Dixon. There are a couple others we’ll discuss in a moment, but did they make it clear that Saul was a show they admired and whatnot?

There were several instances where we talked about character development in the vein of Better Call Saul. They were very familiar with the Better Call Saul characters, and I talked about that when I first met with them. I’m very interested in character development and character-forward stories, and luckily, that’s something that they were just really excited about from the very beginning. We were all like, “Let’s make this a grounded character story and something that is different from what we’ve seen before. Let’s really let Maya tell her truth.” So, of course, that really spoke to me after coming from [Saul co-recators] Vince [Gilligan] and Peter’s [Gould] camp, and being able to work on the characters the way we did over there.

What else did they seem to respond to in your pitch?

Well, it wasn’t a pitch in the same way that I’ve done some others. We had similar takes in what we were hoping for from a character point of view, and so we were really excited. Of course, it wasn’t going to be something that was purely out of my head from the beginning. Representation is such an important part of this story, and the writers that were on board are such an important part of the story. So it was an open sandbox for all of us to come in and bring our different experiences. We had two deaf writers in the room. We had writers in the room who were enrolled across five tribes. So everybody came together and shared experiences to build this story from the beginning. It actually reminds me of the way that we started with the Jimmy McGill character on Better Call Saul, because we knew so little about him. In the first couple of weeks in the Echo room, we just asked, “Who is Maya Lopez? What was she like in New York? What would bring her from New York back to her hometown? What was her childhood like?” Even if certain things didn’t show up on the show, it was so important to discuss them for the story. So just to be on the same page in that way from the very beginning was really exciting.

Did your writers’ room operate in the same fashion as Saul? Conversation to notecards, notecards to scripts, etc.?

It was a little different. With something as big and established as Marvel, they have a lot of moving parts. So there was a lot of adaptability in the writers’ room, and there was a lot of flexibility in taking notes, bringing them back to the table and then reworking things when we needed to. So the processes were very different, but a lot of the elements that you’re asking about were still there. There were still notecards. There was still a lot of character discussion, and zooming in and out from character to 5,000 feet above to lay out the broad strokes, and then going back down to do a finer break. So, much of that same kind of method was there underneath it.

(Right): Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios’ Echo

Chuck Zlotnick

Did the edgier tone come up early on in the process, or did that come later?

I don’t know at what point in the process the tv-MA rating came in, but we all started to realize pretty early on that this was going to be a gritty and grounded family drama, unlike the other shows that had come before it. So there wasn’t resistance to that along the way. It was like, “Yeah, this is the story. This is what the story wants to be. This is who the character wants to be.”

Maya Lopez is such a unique character, so where do you even begin when it comes to writing for her?

We talked a lot about her background, her family and her cultural influences. We also talked about the similar experiences of the writers who were in the room. We then talked about what we already knew about her father [Zahn McClarnon’s William Lopez]. It was always Maya’s show, and it wasn’t about any other character, but the writers and I had all watched Daredevil as well. So we were able to sit down together and watch a Kingpin supercut. We only watched the Kingpin scenes from Daredevil our second time through, and watching Daredevil as if it was Kingpin’s story gave us a different concept of the relationship possibilities between Maya and Fisk, and what her life may have looked like when she was growing up in New York City.

In the first episode, when you see her put the hair tie on the motorcycle and run it through the [dealership’s] window to shatter it, that scene came out of that [as Fisk then bailed her out of that situation]. We were like, “What kind of trouble did she get into when she was in New York City?” And like I said, the things you never saw on screen and that never made it into a script were so informative in making character decisions for her. So I feel proud of the way we all wanted to stay very much in her shoes at all times. By asking, “Where’s her mind? Where’s her body? Where’s her spirit at every moment?” we were able to make the next right choice for her. 

(L-R): Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez and Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin in Marvel Studios’ Echo

Chuck Zlotnick

For characters who communicate with ASL, the assumption is that you would write in a more concise, economical way. Is that actually the case?

They’re different languages, and so we wrote the way that you would write two languages. We had representation in the room: Shoshannah Stern and Josh Feldman. We had an ASL interpreter [Douglas Ridloff] on set, and some of the writers, the cast and crew took ASL lessons. It’s hard to learn, but we ran all of the scripts through Shoshannah, Doug and Josh along the way to make sure that we weren’t messing it up. If we put something down in the script that didn’t work, Shoshannah was really great about saying, “It wouldn’t be said like that. Try it this way.” So that was extremely useful, and it didn’t happen after the scripts were submitted. It happened during the conversations in the room and as we were putting it down, so we didn’t have to do overhauls on the dialogue. The scripts came in legit.

You spent years writing for multiple characters who defy the black-and-white labels of hero and villain. So did that give you a leg up on Maya’s anti-hero nature?

Yeah, we gave her a runway to play with. No one said ahead of time, “She’s going to lose her soul to gain what she wants,” but we knew off the bat that she’s a renegade character who’s going to desert and betray an organization. We knew she would do things with good intent and for good cause that are morally questionable. So it was something that I was familiar with and something that the writers were really excited about, but it’s a team effort. It was not my property at any point, and I would never take credit for something that we all did together, but we were all of the same mind to go in that direction with the character.

In the first episode, you had to develop not only a backstory to Hawkeye’s backstory for Maya, but then you also had to flesh out a new backstory for when she fell under the tutelage of Wilson Fisk. Were those tasks right in your wheelhouse since you’d been working within the specific parameters of Breaking Bad for so long and were used to connecting all sorts of dots? 

Yeah, it was definitely good preparation. Better Call Saul was a universe tied to a universe, but Marvel is massive. It’s much bigger. Even as a Marvel fan, I don’t know everything. A person named Elliot Lehrman came to our room, and he was the Marvel story manager who knew everything about everything. If I had a question like, “Can we use this chemical here?” then you would ask Elliot and he would let you know. But in terms of connecting the characters, yeah, I learned a lot about how to build character bibles and character grids that bring these people back together. So I certainly referenced those, but again, there were many different moving parts coming in from Marvel. So, luckily, there were many people on the team to keep us honest where we needed to be.

(L-R): Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin and Darnell Besaw as young Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios’ Echo

Marvel Studios

Since Hawkeye and She-Hulk, people have been debating whether Wilson Fisk and Matt Murdock are literally the same characters from the former Netflix shows, and I’ve always thought that they were, even if it’s not always a carbon copy translation. For example, Fisk’s ball-peen hammer on Echo is different from his claw hammer on the former Netflix show.

You’re so observant to notice something like the hammer; I didn’t even notice that.

Well, Marvel has since come out and officially said that Daredevil and the other shows are MCU canon, but at the time of writing, did they ever offer you clarity on the matter? I suppose the Daredevil supercuts you watched in the room could be an indication that it was canon from the start.

Whether they did [offer clarity] or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that when we were talking about those characters, it was important for us to keep the fabric and the integrity of Maya’s relationships with them in our story. When we were breaking story in the way that I was taught to break story by Vince and Peter, we looked backward at the characters’ choices and behaviors and relationships from the past. And although a character can look forward and have anxieties and plans for the future, we can’t have them act as if they have wisdom and experience that they don’t have yet. So we didn’t do too much forward plotting until we understood the past, and we were always looking back at the last episode. “What did she do in the last scene? What did she do in that last moment that would give her the ability to make this next choice?” And so, for that reason, we looked back at those [former Netflix] characters and said, “What fabric of them is important to have here? How can we maintain that relationship and make it grow from here, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel?” We didn’t need to reinvent the wheel when what was there was already so strong.

As I alluded to earlier, did you have a major hand in hiring your former Better Call Saul collaborators, editor Chris McCaleb and composer Dave Porter? [Writer’s Note: First assistant editor Joey Liew also worked in various roles on Saul and Bad.]

I was, of course, thrilled when Chris and Dave agreed to come work on the show. Dave Porter is brilliant, and I would work with Chris McCaleb till the end of time. Their contributions are undeniable, and I am so proud of this show because it created a runway for everybody’s contributions. I truly feel like all of the writers and collaborators can see a personal touch and a personal connection, and there was no overworking by one set of hands that made it different. So I can certainly see the Dave Porter touch and the Chris McCaleb touch in the show, and I hope other fans can, too.

Did you throw their names in the hat? Or am I not going to get you to take full credit? 

(Laughs.) I am not going to take full credit, but I certainly said, “Here are the people that I would love to put forward from the places I’ve been.” There are a lot!

I listened to Dave work in a very specific way for 15 years, and so it was quite something to hear him utilize sounds and instruments that I’d never heard him use before, at least in this fashion.

Yeah, I saw Dave at the premiere, and he looked very pleased. He can be very a-man-about-his-business because he’s just so busy, but he looked very pleased.

Maya reconnects with her Indigenous family, she taps into the power of her ancestors and she finally sheds her surrogate father in Fisk. But instead of fighting or killing him, she tries to heal his childhood trauma with her newfound powers. Do you think she succeeded in closing his long-running open wounds?

Well, as far as what happens to Fisk after Echo, I can’t say, but please stay tuned for Daredevil: Born Again. (Laughs.) But the way we built that story from Maya’s perspective was much like an amends process. An amends is made so that we can release the responsibility of a relationship that’s prohibiting us or holding us back. And Maya’s ability to try to heal Fisk helped her to let go of the damage that their relationship did to her and her life so that she’s able to open a door to her family and reconnect with her family. So, to us, that brought the story full circle for Maya, and if it has an impact on Fisk going forward, all the better. But aiding Maya in her future journey was enough for us.

Did she happen to incept the idea of public service into his head? Did her powers potentially change him enough to influence that decision in some way?

Ooh, maybe! Again, stay tuned. I don’t know if that’ll be something that he hearkens back to, but it could be.

Most superhero names aren’t that meaningful, but it’s a really beautiful thought that Maya’s ancestors’ powers and qualities echo through her. That can be said about all of us as well, so this show is yet another example of specificity being universal. 

Yeah, we talked about Maya’s powers and the importance of ancestors and descendants. I think it was Rebecca [Roanhorse] who explained a concept of time that she was familiar with in her family, and instead of chronological time being beads on a string, time is more like water in a stream. All moments are available to someone at all times if they’re connected to the moment and the spirit. So Maya reconnecting with her family roots gave her the ability to have access to these different moments that happened both in the past and in the present, and I’m getting goosebumps just talking about it. We had really special conversations like that around Maya and her ancestors, and there was more that didn’t end up making it into the story or the scripts or the show. I wish we had the extra ability to make episodes that are related to the unseen moments we talked about in the room because they’re all just so spectacular.

I appreciated the very specific purpose that Daredevil (Charlie Cox) served in Maya’s introduction to Fisk’s line of work. But did it just feel too convoluted when you and the writers tried to bring him back elsewhere?

Yeah, certainly. When you get a character and actor [Charlie Cox] like that, you ask, “What’s the best use of what we have with them?” And I remember having conversations like that on other shows that I’ve worked on when you get such talent and such a great character. But we had to look at it through the story that we’re telling, and for Maya’s story, it was really important for us to have the majority of the show take place in her Oklahoma hometown. So it just didn’t make sense to bring Matt along, and we even went through several iterations of getting Fisk there. So at the end of the day, we felt like we got the right amount of Daredevil, and if we had a longer story to tell, maybe he would’ve resurfaced or Maya would’ve ended up taking a trip back to New York City. But I always think it’s good to leave people wanting, and I’ve seen a lot of fans say, “Not enough Daredevil!” But, to me, that’s always better than having people say that we had way too much. So I’m happy that people wanted a little more, but I think we hit the right balance.

To conclude with Saul, did each of the final season’s major destinations align with where you expected them to go when you wrapped season five? Or did they still manage to surprise you in places? 

I was certainly surprised by some things, and no matter what we talked about in the room, it always far exceeds your expectations when you get into the moment and into the fine break. Vince, Peter and the writers did such an immaculate job of letting go of what didn’t work and keeping what did work for the character. So heading into the final season, we knew that Jimmy [Bob Odenkirk] was going to have a redemption arc and that Kim [Rhea Seehorn] was going to come back into the story, and that it was probably going to bring them back to the Midwest. But I didn’t know about the Marion [Carol Burnett] character. That was a fun surprise when I heard about that. (Laughs.) So it was super cool to watch that final season as a fan, and I couldn’t have been more proud or happy with the way that they landed all of it. [Writer’s Note: Seehorn’s Kim Wexler was originally from Red Cloud, Nebraska, and the initial plan, as Dayre also noted above, to explain her absence during the Breaking Bad timeline of 2008-2010 was to send her back to Nebraska. This choice would have set up an inevitable reunion with her former lover who was now known as Gene Takovic in Omaha, NE, however, the Saul writers’ room eventually changed her destination to Florida, creating more distance and less of a coincidence.]

Bob Odenkirk as Gene, Carol Burnett as Marion – Better Call Saul

Courtesy of Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Lastly, you took Saul lessons and applied them to Echo. What lessons from Echo have you applied since then?

Echo has helped me take some bigger swings. Marvel is a different playground than what we had on Better Call Saul. So, even though Echo is a grounded family drama in terms of the Marvel universe, it still has big set pieces and scale, and it’s helped me organize my mind like that. So there are many things that I will and won’t take with me in both directions.

Echo is now streaming on Disney+ and Hulu.

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