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Lauren Ridloff Shines as the First Deaf Hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

I love Makkari very much.

Actor Lauren Ridloff strikes a pose as Makkari in a red supersuit in 'Eternals'

Eternals is getting ready to hit theaters, and Marvel fans are excited to see the world of heroes brought to us by Oscar-winner Chloé Zhao. Playing Makkari is Lauren Ridloff, the Tony-nominated actress from Children of a Lesser God who went from unknown to instant star at the age of 40. Now, she’s a superhero, and an amazing one at that.

Ridloff spoke with HuffPost about her career, from kindergarten teacher to Broadway star, all the way to her turn as Marvel’s first onscreen deaf superhero.

“It was a manifestation,” Ridloff told them with a laugh. “At that time, I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue in acting. I was honestly terrified. I had given up a career as a teacher and I went to try acting, but then my Broadway show was ending. What’s next? Do I even bet on auditioning? I didn’t think Hollywood was ready for a deaf actor at the time, let alone a deaf superhero.”

Being the first deaf hero can’t be easy. But Ridloff brings a strength to Makkari and brilliance that shines onscreen in Eternals, and she admitted that it wasn’t easy to take on this challenge—especially representing an entire community in a franchise as big as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“In the beginning, I admit I was terrified,” Ridloff said. “It was almost like I couldn’t get out of bed. I was so overwhelmed with the responsibility of being the first and only deaf superhero. How do I even start to represent people and a community?”

The evolution of Makkari

Ridloff’s character is adapted from the Makkari of the Eternals comics, but the character was changed for Ridloff. In the comics, Makkari is a large white man with super strength and reflexes, as well as the super speed that Ridloff’s Makkari exhibits.

“I realized when I started talking about me and when I started using pronouns like ‘I’ rather than ‘we,’ that’s how I can be my most authentic self. I can tell my own story, and I can allow people to decide if they identify and relate to me,” Ridloff says. “With that understanding, I feel so much more comfortable in my role.”

Ridloff is the first deaf hero in the MCU but she’s not the only one! In Hawkeye, the character of Echo is debuting, played by Alaqua Cox, and Ridloff is excited to see Echo! “I’m not going to be the only deaf superhero in the MCU,” says Ridloff. “We’re going to have another one joining very shortly, which I’m thrilled about.”

Lauren Ridloff is easily one of my favorite parts of Eternals. She’s brilliant, she brings Makkari to life in such a fun and honest way, and I want to know so much more about her. Eternals hits theaters on November 5 and is definitely a must-see!

(image: Marvel Entertainment)

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She/Her. A writer who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.