'Eternals' has the MCU's first deaf superhero. Her deafness is one of her superpowers

Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES — Lauren Ridloff is eager for audiences to meet her groundbreaking "Eternals" character, Makkari.

In the comics, Makkari is known primarily for her superhuman speed, which allows her to spin cyclones, run on water and defy gravity. In Marvel Studios' forthcoming adaptation, Makkari is also deaf — a key asset that distinguishes her from her fellow celestial protectors.

"Let's just say Makkari would not be as fast as she is if it wasn't for her deafness," Ridloff told the Los Angeles Times at Monday's world premiere of "Eternals" in Hollywood. "I can't wait for people to see the movie and be able to finally talk about it."

"Eternals" follows a coalition of cosmic beings tasked with saving humanity from monstrous forces known as the Deviants. Directed by Oscar winner Chloe Zhao, the film boasts the most diverse cast in MCU history — including Ridloff, a Black and Mexican American deaf actor who plays the franchise's first deaf superhero.

"When I came to the process, Marvel already had a treatment, and these characters were written in the treatment, so I was very impressed by their fight for diversity," Zhao told the L.A. Times at the premiere. "Not just in terms of gender, race. Different types of diversity. That's one of the reasons why I was drawn to the project."

The Disney tentpole is also the first MCU installment helmed by a woman of color: Zhao, who is Chinese and made history when she won an Academy Award this year for directing "Nomadland."


"Just to know that I was working with a director like Chloe, I felt very safe," Ridloff said. "We went through this whole new path as the first deaf superhero in the MCU, but under her direction, I knew that she would do me justice. And I knew that ... authentic representation really is important to her."

Throughout the production process, Ridloff and Zhao engaged in many conversations about portraying Makkari authentically in an effort to defy stereotypes surrounding the deaf community.

"I kept wanting to check in about how we would actually reveal my deafness in the storyline, and we finally got to a point where I felt like we could actually show Makkari as having a deaf benefit or a deaf gain," Ridloff said.

"That's a word that we use within the community" — as opposed to "hearing loss" — "to show the idea that being deaf can actually be a good thing too, and we show that in the movie."


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