Two Marvel projects – the 2021 movie “Eternals” and the 2021 Disney+ TV series “Hawkeye” are being honored for their positive representation of the Deaf community.
Deaf actress Lauren Ridloff of “The Walking Dead” fame was cast as Makkari, the first Deaf Marvel superhero shown on-screen. Alaqua Cox played Maya Lopez/Echo; in addition to being a Deaf Native American, the actress uses a prosthetic leg as well. Both characters communicate with American Sign Language (ASL) on screen, proving that there is no limit to what Deaf people can do.
Both projects were recently honored with the Seal of Authentic Representation from the Ruderman Family Foundation, which is awarded to television or feature film projects featuring actors with disabilities in substantial speaking roles.
Two Marvel Projects Recognized For Positive Representation
The Ruderman Family Foundation President, Jay Ruderman, praised the “authentic casting” of the characters and called it a “momentous milestone for Marvel and the entire entertainment industry.”
In a statement, he said, “These practices are increasingly becoming the norm in Hollywood, with the authentic casting of Lauren Ridloff in Eternals and Alaqua Cox in Hawkeye marking a particularly high-profile and momentous milestone for Marvel and the entire entertainment industry.”
He added, “Each time a casting director or other executive makes such a decision, it facilitates the industry’s broader journey towards fulfilling its full potential as a beacon of all forms of diversity and social justice.”
“Eternals” director Chloé Zhao also praised Lauren Ridloff and said that they were “very lucky” to have found her.
Marvel Director Chloé Zhao Praises Lauren Ridloff’s ‘Love And Conviction’
“Makkari is full of heart and wisdom. She is strong, charismatic, mysterious and mischievous,” Zhao said. “We are very lucky to have found Lauren Ridloff, who is our real-life Makkari. She has brought this character to life with love and conviction and has taught us so much in the process.”
The casting director for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sarah Finn, called Ridloff “overly qualified” for the role. She said, “Not only was [Ridloff] overly qualified to join an already high-level cast, she elevated the ensemble with her unique spirit, talents, and charisma. It’s been a privilege getting to know her through the process and seeing what a real-life hero she has become to so many.”
Finn also addressed Alaqua Cox’s casting in “Hawkeye,” explaining that it was important for them to both “celebrate and honor” both her Deaf and Native American” culture.
“Alaqua Cox’s character, Maya Lopez/Echo, is based on an existing Marvel character who is deaf and Native American,” Finn explained. “In casting the role, we wanted to celebrate and honor both Deaf and Native American cultures. We couldn’t be more delighted by Alaqua Cox’s performance. She is phenomenal and part of a new culture in film and television, where authentic representation not only matters but is paramount to the kind of stories we want to tell and how we shape them.”
Ridloff had previously told HuffPost that she was elated that Cox was joining the MCU, saying, “I’m not going to be the only Deaf superhero in the MCU [anymore].” Fans are eager to see what other Deaf actors and actresses will join the MCU in the future.