Marvel Studios continues to earn accolades for its work, and the latest honor bestowed on the company is pretty unique. Hawkeye, the hit Disney+ series which aired over the holiday season, and Eternals, the blockbuster film from Chloé Zhao, have been given the Seal of Authentic Representation from the Ruderman Family Foundation. The award is intended to advocate for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in society. It is only given out to movies and television shows that feature actors with disabilities in roles with at least five lines of dialogue. Other projects included in this year’s recipients are Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building and HBO Max’s And Just Like That, which also had deaf characters in major roles.
Eternals star Lauren Ridloff, who portrayed the lovable speedster Makkari, became the MCU’s first deaf superhero last November. She quickly became a fan favorite from the film, and it’s likely she’s yet to make her last appearance in the franchise. Casting director Sarah Finn released a statement on the matter:
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.Sarah Finn
Hawkeye introduced the world to Alaqua Cox, who brought the deaf assassin Echo to life to critical praise. The actress, who is also an amputee, is set to reprise her role in her own solo series on Disney+. Finn continued:
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.Sarah Finn
Ruderman Foundation president Jay Ruderman also spoke highly of this year’s recipients, finishing things off by saying:
…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.Jay Ruderman
Marvel Studios has been dedicated to ensuring that everyone can see themselves reflected on the silver screen and even on their television. As such, they’ve started to push for more diversity in their offerings and have used their unique position as one of the biggest blockbuster studios to consistently draw in audiences with each film.