Hawkeye: How Hailee Steinfeld Helped Deaf Marvel Co-Star Feel Comfortable on Set

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Hawkeye, Hailee Steinfeld, Alaqua Cox

Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye has now properly introduced Alaqua Cox’s Echo to the world with the show’s third episode. The character follows the trail of Eternals’ Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff, as the second deaf superhero to enter the Marvel Studios' cinematic universe. Although Maya Lopez will be a superhero eventually, it will come after she deals with all the vengeful anger consuming her current motivations.

Her character made quite an impact during her introduction, as she gave Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton a lot to think about and forced him to confront his hearing loss instead of trying to avoid it.

The most incredible part about it all is how this is Alaqua Cox’s first acting gig—and she’s already becoming a mainstay MCU superhero; a situation which bears similarities to Iman Vellani’s role in Ms. Marvel. No doubt, the actor must have been beyond intimidated to be bringing this character to life.

But what was that experience like for Cox as she walked onto such a big set with established A-list actors like Hailee Steinfeld?

Hailee Steinfeld and Jeremy Renner Show Kindness

Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, Echo

In the Winter 2021 issue of Disney’s D23 Magazine obtained by The Direct, Alaqua Cox talked about her experience joining the MCU. The actor mentions that she “[felt] like a badass Super Hero” when putting on her wardrobe:

"The funny thing is, I usually don’t like dressing in all black, but that costume somehow made me feel like a badass Super Hero."

Her co-stars were very welcoming when she arrived on set. According to Cox, “[Jeremy Renner] complimented [her] in American Sign Language,” and “[Hailee Steinfeld] also spelled out her name to [her] in ASL:”

"It was such an honor to work with them both. I think they are spectacular actors, and I have learned a lot from watching them work behind the scenes… I remember meeting Jeremy on my first day of work on-set; I was a nervous wreck, as this was my very first acting job. He then complimented me in American Sign Language (ASL), which comforted me. Hailee also spelled out her name to me in ASL at the studio where we were doing our stunt training sessions. I thought it was sweet of them putting in efforts to learn basic ASL to communicate with me. It means a lot to me as a Deaf person.”

Maya Lopez's arrival in Hawkeye comes right on the tail of Marvel Studios’ Eternals, which also featured deaf actress Lauren Ridloff as Makkari. Cox said that she is “amazing with Marvel because they are doing such a great job with diversity and representation:”

"I'm amazed with Marvel because they are doing such a great job with diversity and representation… It means so much to me because I feel like kids with all types of cultures and disabilities deserve to have more role models that look like them, to inspire and empower the next generation. I'm so grateful to have this opportunity because I am one of the examples…”

Welcoming The Deaf Community to the MCU

It’s always heartwarming to hear on-set stories such as these. Similar instances were shared about Lauren Ridloff’s experience on Eternals, with both Angelina Jolie and Harry Styles doing their best to help the actor feel comfortable, and giving some help along the way.

Marvel Studios’ efforts towards diversity and representation have taken strides over the past year alone. Eternals saw nearly a dozen new characters with rich and diverse backgrounds enter the MCU, WandaVision put the spotlight on the Scarlet Witch, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier gave the world a new Captain America.

With Alaqua Cox’s Maya Lopez set to get her own spin-off with Echo, the new deaf Native American character looks to become the next big hero in Marvel’s quickly expanding world. The all-important representation isn't going anywhere.

Hawkeye airs weekly every Wednesday on Disney+.

- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.