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Marvel Really Should Open Caption All Eternals Screenings as the Movie Introduces Their First Deaf Hero

Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff and Brian Tyree Henry of Marvel Studios' 'The Eternals' at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019 Marvel Studios Panel in Hall H on July 20, 2019 in San Diego, California.

We’ve sort of been through this before, but only time will tell whether Marvel gives the people what they want this time. When The Eternals debuts in November 2020 (as Marvel’s second “phase 4” film), it will bring the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first deaf hero, Makkari, played by deaf actor Lauren Ridloff, as revealed at San Diego Comic-Con 2019. With that in mind, a fan has launched a petition asking the studio to put captions on the movie by default to increase accessibility.

That’s basically the same thing that happened with Marvel and Netflix’s Daredevil TV series way back when. The show debuted without the descriptive audio that helps the visually impaired experience the story, which Netflix was completely lacking at the time. As it turned out, the feature was already in the works, and it was added to Daredevil and other Netflix shows in short order—just days after the series premiere.

However, the push for Netflix to get that done had been going on for years at that point, with Daredevil just highlighting the problem, which isn’t exactly encouraging for similar initiatives—although there’s still plenty of time before The Eternals hits theaters. While movie theaters are required to provide closed captioning to patrons who need it, as you can imagine, the individual captioning solutions are less than perfect—easily inferior to “open captioning,” when the captions are already part of the video, visible to everyone, eliminating any potential issues.

That’s what the Change.org petition pushes for on The Eternals, by Sarah Feisthamel, a mother of three who knows very well how inadequate existing closed caption solutions can be. She writes, “[F]or the first time, Deaf children will see themselves represented in a Marvel movie. It’s a huge leap forward for representative casting, but casting is not enough for Deaf and disabled audiences to enjoy The Eternals.”

The petition doesn’t have any signatures just yet, but it’s still early in the game for this movie. As buzz around it picks up, I’m guessing there will be more, louder calls for Marvel to step up and keep real-world accessibility in mind while putting representation on the screen.

(via Newsarama, image: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

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Dan is a video game modding hobbyist and secret ninja who lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa Brown, and his dog, Liz Lemon, both of whom are the best.