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Marvel's Eternals And Hawkeye Earned An Amazing Distinction

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe already had plenty of reasons to enjoy "Eternals" and "Hawkeye." The former of these featured one of the largest ensemble casts of any Marvel movie — and certainly the largest cast of new characters to date. Meanwhile, the "Hawkeye" series on Disney+ brought back some of the franchise's most beloved characters while introducing MCU fans to some fresh faces.

Recent news might motivate fans to appreciate these stories for another reason. Both "Eternals" and "Hawkeye" have earned an amazing distinction for their casting of Lauren Ridloff as Makkari and Alaqua Cox as Echo, respectively. Both of these characters, as well as the actors behind them, have physical disabilities, making them two out of very few disabled actors to appear in MCU properties. However, earning this distinction required more than just casting Ridloff and Cox because there is much more to representation than just making an appearance.

The MCU recevied accolades for making its disabled characters actual characters

Both "Eternals" and "Hawkeye" have earned the Seal of Authentic Representation from the Ruderman Family Foundation (via The Hollywood Reporter). In order to qualify for this recognition, the property must feature a disabled character with at least five lines of dialogue. Perhaps more importantly, the actors portraying these characters must be disabled themselves.

"Eternals" and "Hawkeye" accomplish the first of these criteria easily enough. Makkari and Echo are both major characters in the films and comics, so their inclusion was essentially a necessity (although comic book Makkari is not disabled). However, the MCU took a step in the right direction by casting disabled people in disabled roles. Both Lauren Ridloff and Alaqua Cox are deaf, and Cox is also an amputee who wears a prosthetic leg.

"Not only was [Ridloff] overly qualified to join an already high-level cast, [but] she [also] elevated the ensemble with her unique spirit, talents and charisma," said MCU casting director Sarah Finn. She also added, "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."