Thanks To Eternals' Lauren Ridloff, There's A Huge Spike In Interest For American Sign Language

Makkari and Druig in Eternals
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Marvel movies have proved to be massive projects and pop cultural moments in Hollywood. In turn, the studio has made it a priority to amplify the voices of more minorities within its movies and television shows as of late. In the latest entry, Eternals, there’s a number of Marvel firsts, including the first ever deaf superhero within the franchise with Lauren Ridloff’s Makkari. According to new data, Makkari is inspiring a lot of people to look into learning American Sign Language. 

In Eternals, Makkari is among a diverse group of heroes. She’s a speedster who also happens to be deaf and communicates via American Sign Language. According to research conducted by tutor website Preply, there has been a 285% increase in searches for “American Sign Language certification programs” since the year before. Looks like seeing a bonafide Marvel superhero speak in sign language could lead to a boom in people looking to pick up the language. 

Back in 2012, when the Avengers went for Shawarma after their death-defying New York battle, popularity around the dish skyrocketed, and it looks like Marvel fans are now looking to get on the ASL bandwagon next. Lauren Ridloff was born deaf to hearing parents, and has since become well known for her role as Connie in The Walking Dead. The actress is married and has two children, who are seven and nine. She told The New York Times this: 

It means my two boys, who are also deaf, will grow up in a world where there are superheroes who are deaf. It means they’ll be able to dream a bit more wildly.

During the filming of Eternals, the cast of the movie also learned American Sign Language so they could communicate with Ridloff on set and in the film. It’s not often that people in the deaf community have been given such a large platform to be celebrated and normalized on screen and a place like the MCU is a huge step, especially for young kids who will now grow up with a superhero who is deaf and communicates with American Sign Language. 

If you are among those who’ve become interested in American Sign Language since seeing  Eternals, Preply’s Student Success Manager Amy Pritchett recommends learning essential conversational words like “thank you” and “please” first and foremost, along with practicing the finger alphabet when getting started. 

Eternals opened big with a $71 million domestic debut, being hailed the fourth most successful of a 2021 movie. The movie is up against being a fairly unfamiliar Marvel title, as well as a low reception from critics and a divisive response from audiences as they graded it an average of a B on opening night, via CinemaScore. You can check out our interviews with the cast of Eternals, including Lauren Makkari, here on CinemaBlend. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.