New Marvel Film 'The Eternals' Will Feature First Deaf Superhero

Renee Fabian
Lauren Ridloff

An upcoming installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “The Eternals,” will feature Marvel’s first deaf superhero, actress Lauren Ridloff in the role of Makkari. The movie is slated for release in fall 2020.

On Saturday during San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige revealed new details about “The Eternals.” According to EW, “The Eternals” are a race of genetically engineered super-humans designed to protect the universe by the Celestials, a group of space gods. However, the Celestials also created evil Deviants who face the Eternals regularly.

“It’s about this group of incredible immortals but through their journey we really get to explore what it means to be human and humanity on our time on this planet,” director Chloe Zhao said of the film.

Ridloff, who is deaf, will be the first deaf superhero in the Marvel world. She previously played Connie in “The Walking Dead” and earned a 2018 Tony nomination for her role in a revival of the play “Children of a Lesser God.” In 2000, she was named Miss Deaf America.

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Ridloff’s casting in a lead role in “The Eternals” is also good news for disability representation. According to a report from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, in 2015, only 2.4% of all speaking or named characters in film had a disability. A Ruderman Family Foundation white paper highlighted often disabled characters are then played by actors without disabilities — up to 95% of disabled roles go to actors without disabilities.

Often, people with disabilities are underestimated and therefore left out of many film productions. Ridloff told the New York Times in 2018 while she loved the craft of acting, she didn’t think film creators were ready to see more than just her disability.

“I feel like acting is a study of humanity, and I am loving that.” Ridloff said. “I don’t know if casting directors are ready to look at me and think that this woman could be someone that’s more than just deaf. I would like to be a superhero.”

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Joining the newly minted superhero Ridloff, “The Eternals” will also feature Angelina Jolie (Thena), Richard Madden (Icarus), Kumail Nanjiani (Kingo), Brian Tyree Henry (Phastos), Salma Hayek (Ajak), Lia McHugh (Sprite) and Don Lee (Gilgamesh). It is scheduled for release Nov. 6, 2020.

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