Lauren Ridloff is excited by the parallels between Connie, the first Deaf survivor featured on zombie drama The Walking Dead, and the super-powered Makkari, one of the newest superheroes joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Marvel Studios' upcoming The Eternals. In the Marvel comic books that inspired the Chloé Zhao-directed Eternals, Makkari is a centuries-old male character hailing from Olympia, Greece. Makkari is ageless, like all members of the ancient race of super-beings, and the genius-level engineer wields such powers as super speed and the ability to manipulate cosmic energy. When Ridloff's spin on Makkari races into the Marvel film universe, she'll be its first Deaf superhero.
"It's so exciting! I really love how the characters have this parallel," Ridloff said through an ASL interpreter on Talking Dead, the live aftershow aired after episodes of TWD. "Both of them are such strong women, they're kick-ass women. And working within the bigger ensemble, they're not working alone. They're part of ensemble groups and communities, so I love the parallels between [Connie and] my Eternals character Makkari."
On TWD, now in its tenth season, Ridloff plays former investigative journalist Connie, a capable, intelligent, and brave survivor in the zombie apocalypse. In an earlier episode of The Walking Dead Season 10, when comforting younger sister Kelly (Angel Theory) over her own progressing hearing loss, Connie reassured her, "It's not a disability. It's a damn superpower!"
In The Eternals, Ridloff's super-fast Makkari appears alongside such characters as Ikaris (Richard Madden), Sersi (Gemma Chan), Dane Whitman (Kit Harington), and Thena (Angelina Jolie).
Ridloff can't give away much about her Marvel role, commenting only on the superhero costumes previously revealed during Disney's bi-annual D23 Expo over the summer. "She does look really cool in her super suit, in comparison to the dirty Connie I get when I’m on set [of Walking Dead]," Ridloff said with a laugh.
She previously told NowThis Entertainment representation "lets the five-year-old in each of us know that we will be okay."
Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige, also serving as Marvel chief creative officer, previously confirmed Marvel "absolutely" plans for more representation throughout and beyond Phase Four of the MCU, launching with Black Widow in May.
Asked during a visit to the New York Film Academy if Disney-owned Marvel Studios would continue to diversify after the blockbuster successes of Black Panther and Captain Marvel — both billion-plus grossers — Feige said that was "always the plan."
"Every time we do a movie, we hope it’s going to succeed so that we can make another movie. That’s always the idea," Feige said. "And with those two films in particular, Black Panther and Captain Marvel, we wanted to keep showcasing heroes from the comics that represent the world that goes to see our movies. So our intention was always to continue to do that. What’s exciting is that both those movies were such big hits that it squashed any sort of question otherwise, and I hope — and I think — it inspired other companies around the world to do the same thing and tell those different types of stories."
Photo source: Getty / Alberto E. Rodriguez