Eternals‘ Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) and Hawkeye‘s Echo (Alaqua Cox) .

Marvel’s ‘Eternals’ and ‘Hawkeye’ Honored for Disability Representation

Lauren Ridloff and Alaqua Cox bring much needed representation to the Marvel cinematic universe.
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2021 saw the Marvel cinematic universe expand their definition of superhero to include more characters with disabilities. Both Chloé Zhao’s Eternals and Disney+ series Hawkeye were recognized 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. Eternals‘ Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) and Hawkeye‘s Echo (Alaqua Cox) are both superpowered characters who are also deaf, played by deaf actors. Cox uses a prosthetic leg as well.

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Ruderman Family Foundation president Jay Ruderman said in a statement, “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. 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.”

Zhao said of the recognition, “Makkari is full of heart and wisdom. She is strong, charismatic, mysterious and mischievous. 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.”

Sarah Finn, the casting director for the MCU, added “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 discussed Cox’s groundbreaking role in Hawkeye, saying “Alaqua Cox’s character, Maya Lopez/Echo, is based off an existing Marvel character who is deaf and Native American. 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 shared her excitement for Cox joining the MCU, saying “I’m not going to be the only deaf superhero in the MCU, … We’re going to have another one joining very shortly, which I’m thrilled about.”

Fellow Ruderman Family Foundation honorees include HBO Max’s And Just Like That, NBC’s Ordinary Joe, and Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building.

(via THR, image: Marvel/Disney+)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.