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I was talking to a friend about the fact that Makkari is deaf and does not audibly speak in Eternals. We were throwing around theories like "She lost her hearing because she runs fast" or "Like humans, Eternals can be born with handicaps, since both were created by the Celestials" (at least in the comics).

I can't remember anything in the movie explaining that, and it seems odd to me.

Is there any official reason in the MCU as to why she is deaf?

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I'm not sure if this necessarily answers the question of why but it certainly gives some insight into how being deaf actually helps the character. Makkari is a speedster and can create a sonic boom which is really loud. However, with her being deaf this doesn't affect her and so it won't faze her like it could others and she can use this to her advantage.

Lauren Ridloff, Makkari's actress, speaks about this briefly in the below interview, see the end of the last paragraph in particular.

Your Eternals role is an example that adapted characters don’t have to be carbon copies of their originals. There’s room for more interesting, inclusive choices during the adaptation process. Makkari is a woman of color whose Deafness is a feature of her power. Why is she important in terms of representing Deaf people onscreen?

I feel like seeing Makkari on the screen is, first of all, so important for the Deaf community. We need a superhero that represents us, and as I said before, growing up, I didn’t dream of becoming an actor because I didn’t see enough of myself on the screen. I didn’t get to dream that big, so now, with The Eternals, I’m hoping that more people will be able to dream bigger. If I can do it, they can do it. What’s powerful about Makkari is being adapted from this hearing, blond-haired, cisgender, straight white man to myself, I think shows what we call Deaf Gain. In the Deaf community, we talk a lot about Deaf Gain when there are times that we’re just lucky to be Deaf.

I honestly wake up in the morning, and I don’t think about my Deafness. I get up and I don’t think about, “What do I need to overcome today?” It’s just not how I function. So, you wake up and go through your day, and yes, there are moments when my Deafness is in the way of life just because this world is established for an auditory system, an auditory experience. But there are times when I think, “Thank God I’m Deaf.” For example, if I’m on an airplane and somebody walks by with a baby, and they’re crying, I’m like, “Sure, sit next to me. I’m not afraid. Have your child sit right next to me.” The baby might be crying. Doesn’t bother me. I can still sleep throughout the flight. You know I can have a great flight experience even with a crying baby next to me. So that’s what I call Deaf Gain. I think Makkari shows her Deaf Gain — when it really benefits her not to be able to hear.

The Hollywood Reporter, Next Big Thing: ‘Eternals’ Star Lauren Ridloff on Becoming Marvel’s First Deaf Superhero

She has done another interview where she mentions that when filming she scenes with the sonic boom she was the only one not needing ear plugs. I think the two interviews together give insight into how being deaf might actually be helpful for her.

You’ve also talked about Deaf Gain — ways being deaf can be an advantage instead of a loss. Was there any Deaf Gain for you while making a giant Marvel movie?

Well, first of all, I’m just so thrilled to see Deaf Gain enter into the mainstream. I guess that’s one of the good things about having this kind of platform. Yes, definitely we had deaf gain. There were several stories, but I’ll start with one. It was when we were doing reshoots. Makkari’s running, and I use my sonic boom to push the Deviant. The AD was passing out earplugs to everybody, because Chloé was using the sonic boom when I actually did that scene. They came up to me and they’re like, “Here’s your ear plugs.” And I was like, “Well, I don’t need them!” “But it’s really loud. You know, it might be pressure on your eardrum.” I’m like, “No, I don’t think I’m going to need them, but thank you.” In that moment, I was like, wow, superhero powers! I’m the only one without earplugs. When we shot that, and that boom happened, everybody was like, “Wow, that was really loud, even with the earplugs.” And it didn’t faze me at all. Not one bit.

Variety, ‘Eternals’ Star Lauren Ridloff on Playing Marvel’s First Deaf Superhero and the Need to ‘Normalize Subtitles’

This could be the reason why in universe they made her deaf or she could even have become deaf later in life due to her powers*. It certainly speaks to how the character might be enhanced by being deaf though.

*Not seen the film yet, correct me if I'm wrong on that point.

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  • Also screenplay writers Ryan & Kaz Firpo explain their own creative process, including character of Makkari: thedirect.com/article/eternals-makkari-movie-exclusive Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 14:52
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    Science fans note: if you’re moving supersonically, the sonic boom you create cannot catch up to you. Unless you double back, of course. Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 22:22
  • The quotes seem to make no effort at all to explain in universe.
    – user15742
    Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 15:07
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According to the packaging for Hasbro's 'Marvel Legends Series' Makkari action figure:

Makkari uses her cosmically powered super-speed to scout planets and as the only deaf Eternal, she is not affected by the sonic boom that accompanies her cosmic running.

enter image description here

This statement suggests that the ability to hear would hinder the use of her super-speed*, implying that deafness was part of her design, rather than a dysfunction.


* I'm not arguing that this makes sense, to be clear. Just presenting the implied logic of the statement, as I perceive it.


The actress who plays the character has made statements which imply the same thing.

LAUREN RIDLOFF: Makkari is one of ten Eternals. She just happens to be deaf. Her superpower is that, I believe, and she's the fastest Eternal. Because of her speed, she uses sonic booms as her fighting weapon.

Eternals star Lauren Ridloff on playing Marvel's 1st Deaf superhero

LAUREN RIDLOFF: Let’s just say Makkari would not be as fast as she is if it wasn’t for her Deafness

‘Eternals’ has the MCU’s first Deaf superhero. Her Deafness is one of her superpowers

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  • but that doesn't really answer the 'why' - unless she was deliberately created (in-universe) or caused to be such, so she could go do the scouting
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 15:19
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    That to me is implicit in the statement. It certainly makes more sense to think that she was created deaf, than that she was created with the ability to hear and run fast enough to generate sonic booms, but lost the former ability as a result of the latter. Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 15:31
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    Her deafness being a feature, not side-effect or resultant condition makes absolute sense and a great addition to her character. Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 15:38
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    buuut....off topic for this site, but in the real world for example, pilots don't actually hear the sonic boom they generate, because they are already past the effect. So why would a sonic boom even affect her hearing? I'm not dubious enough to downvote this answer, but not confident enough to give it an upvote :)
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 15:51
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    I think this is a case of "don't shoot the messenger". I'm just presenting an official statement on the matter, and interpreting the implied logic behind it. Whether that logic is sound or not is a matter that'd be more appropriate to take up with Marvel than I. The ability to hear certainly hasn't been presented as a drawback for other comicbook speedsters, such as the Flash and Quicksilver, or indeed the comicbook version of Makkari. Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 15:56
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While the sonic boom explanation doesn't make sense for most people, because "pilots don't actually hear the sonic boom they generate, because they are already past the effect," it's important to note that Makkari is not always past the effect of the sonic booms. She can create a sonic boom just by moving a finger, throwing a punch, or any other kind of movement. Just imagine having to live outrunning sonic booms every time you move fast.

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    This is the start of a good answer. Do you have any supporting evidence (from the film or a comic or a quote from a creator) to back up this theory?
    – Skooba
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 21:42
  • And the rest of everyone around her uses ear plugs? Or she's just really careful to only make sonic booms when enemies are near?
    – user15742
    Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 15:11

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