Marvel Studios is nearly a week into its latest theatrical run with Chloé Zhao's cosmic epic Eternals, which is introducing a side of characters and storytelling that's being seen for the very first time in the MCU. Exploring thousands of years of human history on Earth while expanding on a world after the game-changing events of Avengers: Endgame, the film is making a concerted effect to meet lofty expectations as the 30th MCU project since 2008.
Part of this ambition had to do with one of the biggest casts of new characters in MCU history, with each actor bringing their own unique flavor and dynamic to the newly-introduced team of immortals. This also included new representation in the MCU on multiple levels such as the first Pakistani hero in Kumail Nanjiani's Kingo and the first on-screen gay hero in Brian Tyree Henry's Phastos.
Lauren Ridloff also made MCU history by playing the first deaf character in a prominent role, which came through big changes to her comic book character Makkari. This new hero instantly became a fan favorite, and she even sparked some real-world inspiration with the deaf community in the process.
Eternals' Makkari Pushing Deaf Education
The Independent, based on research from Preply, revealed that there has been a 250% increase in inquiries about learning sign language after the debut of Marvel Studios' Eternals. Lauren Ridloff's Makkari, who is deaf in real life, communicated entirely using ASL in the movie, and searches for her personally have increased by 550% since early November.
Ridloff took to Twitter to celebrate this news by sharing the article and encouraging fans to learn the language from real deaf experts:
"This is great. Do learn sign language from Deaf/HoH teachers/content creators"
Eternals star Kumail Nanjiani responded directly to Ridloff and shared his excitement for her accomplishment, calling the news simply "amazing:"
"This is amazing. Look what you did Lauren Ridloff!"
Ridloff replied back and offered a plea to Google to offer courses from experts who are deaf, saying that the best way to learn sign language is from those "who sign daily:"
"Just saw this!! What would be even more amazing is to see Google offer up courses by Deaf teachers!! Best to learn straight from the source-people who sign daily!"
Deaf Learning Spiking Due to Lauren Ridloff
Lauren Ridloff was bound to have an impact on Marvel Studios' Eternals after being brought on board as the MCU's first leading deaf superhero on-screen. After earning rave reviews for her performance as the MCU's newest speedster, fans clearly took note of what they saw in the movie and looked to get a feel for how Ridloff communicates on a daily basis.
In Eternals, Ridloff's Makkari spoke with multiple members of her team using American Sign Language, whether it was through her emotional scenes with Barry Keoghan's Druig or quick interactions with Kumail Nanjiani's Kingo. All of her hearing co-stars took the time to learn how to speak her language, and after seeing it used so prominently in the movie, its impact appears to be massive already.
Whether Ridloff returns for more MCU projects as Makkari is still a mystery, but even if this was her only time playing Makkari, she made it a worthwhile experience from every angle.
Eternals is now playing in theaters worldwide.