Echo, the limited series focused on Kingpin’s badass deaf lieutenant Maya Lopez–who ended up shooting the big bad in the face in the Hawkeye finale–brought back Vincent D’Onofrio’s villain once again. But by the end of this story, the Kingpin might be a very different person than he was before. What that means, essentially, is that his future appearances, whether on a Disney+ series or in an MCU movie, could basically deliver a new version of this character.
For that to happen, though, Marvel will need to follow through on something it has set up, which the MCU hasn’t done much of lately. Even worse, though, is that the franchise is undergoing some kind of major retooling at the moment after a year of disappointments and the career implosion of newly exiled franchise centerpiece Jonathan Majors. In that context, Echo feels like an afterthought that Marvel dumped on Disney+ and Hulu with little fanfare just because it was a thing they’d made and so they might as well use it.
But there are other factors at play–the biggest franchise in Hollywood history has a lot of moving parts, it turns out. To truly get a sense of the situation, we’ll need to talk spoilers.
Warning: The remainder of this post will discuss the ending of Echo in detail, including its mid-credits scene. Spoilers ahead!
The climax of Echo is a bit odd. After Maya makes some power moves against Kingpin’s organization, the man himself shows up alive and well in Oklahoma to try to convince her that he still thinks of her as family so she’ll return to the fold. But she refuses, and so Kingpin gathers his men and prepares to invade the local Pow Wow, essentially a Choctaw county fair.
But we don’t really get any kind of significant action sequence at all. Maya and Kingpin have their confrontation in a barn away from the festivities, and they don’t really fight much. Instead, Maya channels the power of her ancestors to change Kingpin’s memory, mentally taking away the hammer he used to kill his father as a child–after he had previously offered the actual hammer to her as a gift.
We don’t yet know how exactly this will change him as a person, but something must be different–he screams “WHAT DID YOU DO?” at Maya over and over as his henchmen drag him away. And then later, during the mid-credits scene, we see an emotional kingpin listening to a radio report about how the New York City mayoral election is up for grabs with no clear favorites. Obviously, he’s going to run for mayor. Or at least that’s what this scene is telling us.
The problem, though, is the MCU seemingly has no follow-through at this point. For years now it’s been introducing stuff and then leaving it there without dealing with it (like Shang Chi, Eternals, and Moon Knight), or releasing stories in the wrong order and removing whatever context made them make sense in the big picture (like Spider-Man: No Way Home/Doctor Strange 2, and Secret Invasion/The Marvels). Kingpin’s own inclusion in the Hawkeye finale, when he was revealed as the surprise secret villain behind the actual villain, felt like a last-second pivot from something else–and Marvel loves making major story changes during reshoots.
So I have two questions. Will D’Onofrio’s Kingpin actually appear in the future in a significant role? And if he does, will he actually be different as a result of what Maya did?
If the new Daredevil series actually happens, and we probably shouldn’t assume it will right now since the entire MCU slate was pushed back or put on hold aside from Deadpool 3, you have to think Kingpin would appear there. Any other MCU thing set in New York could also have him pop up as a cameo, but having him exist essentially as franchise flavor text wouldn’t be that meaningful. And if he’s basically the same person when we see him again, not only would that be pretty annoying, but it makes the entire exercise of having him in the show moot. Still, there’s a good chance that will happen if Disney thinks that the more familiar version would go down better with audiences than the new version.
I would love it if D’Onofrio’s Kingpin became a key figure in the MCU, and maybe that’s what Echo is setting up; I just don’t see any reason to assume they’ll do much of anything with him. Maybe they will, and maybe they won’t. I doubt even Marvel Studios really knows with a meaningful degree of confidence.
Call me cynical if you want, but I saw the MCU’s current crisis coming a mile away–I’ve written over and over again about the subconscious toll that all these disconnected and gutted stories would take on fan enthusiasm in the long term. Clearly, with the MCU mostly taking this year off, they’ll be making some changes. But that doesn’t mean they’re making the right changes, or that they’ll be any better about the shared-universe storytelling after this semi-hiatus. Hopefully this new take on Kingpin isn’t just another MCU plot thread that gets lost along the way–Marvel already has enough beds that it refuses to sleep in.