"I feel very honoured to be a part of a movie that is going to allow people who never felt represented in superheroes, or in this case Eternals." – Salma Hayek.

By Ian Horswill

Posted on July 22, 2019

Submerged among all the “stars” confirmed to appear in Marvel Cinematic Universe’s five upcoming films was deaf actress Lauren Ridloff.

Ridloff, nominated for a Tony for her role as Sandra Norman in the Broadway hit Children of a Lesser God in 2018, will play Makkari in The Eternals, making her the first deaf superhero, Marvel Studios announced.

Ridloff, a 41-year-old married mother of two who was born deaf, played Connie in the AMC television series The Walking Dead. She was Miss Deaf America from 2000 to 2002.

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The Eternals will be directed by Chloé Zhao and will star Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie (who plays Thena), Bodyguard and Game of Thrones actor Richard Madden (Icarus), Pakistan-born Oscar nominee Kumail Nanjiani (Kingo), Emmy and Tony Award nominee Brian Tyree Henry (Phastos), Oscar nominee Salma Hayek (Ajak), child actress Lia McHugh (Sprite), and South Korean actor Ma Dong-seok (Don Lee) as Gilgamesh.

“It’s about this group of incredible immortals but through their journey we really get to explore what it means to be human and humanity on our time on this planet,” Zhao told the audience at Comic-Con, Entertainment Weekly reported.

“The Eternals are a race of immortal aliens sent to Earth by the Celestials to protect humankind from the Deviants,” added Madden.

Lauren Ridloff with Kumail Nanjiani  Comic Con 2019
Lauren Ridloff, who will play a deaf superhero, with Kumail Nanjiani, who also plays a superhero Kingo. Photo: Twitter

Hayek, who said she is the leader of the group, told the crowd: “I take my inspiration from our leader, Chloé, who’s also a strong woman and it takes a strong woman to do a movie like this because it’s so big and amazing and I’m so excited to be a part of it. The way she approaches leadership as a woman, as a strong woman, is that she sees them as a family. So there’s a lot of mother instincts in this Eternal, who is not supposed to have kids. So this is very exciting, and I feel very honoured to be a part of a movie that is going to allow people who never felt represented in superheroes, or in this case Eternals, represented because I am proud to have a diverse family.”

Tom Hiddleston received a rapturous reception in Hall H at San Diego Comic Con. Photo: Marvel

Jolie, who has also filmed Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, the follow up to 2014 film Maleficent, was a popular attraction at Comic-Con 2019.

“I’m so excited to be here. I’m going to work 10 times harder because I think what it means to be a part of the MCU, what it means to be an Eternal, to be a part of this family, I know what we all need to do. We have all read the script. We have all know what the task ahead is and we are all going to be working very very hard. I’m training. I am thrilled. Thank you so much.”

Marvel Studios, responsible for the all-time highest grossing film Avengers: Endgame, detailed its Phase 4 movie lineup and added that a remake of Blade, starring Oscar-wining actor Mahershala Ali (Green Book and Moonlight), is also on the way. There was no further information about Blade, which featured Wesley Snipes in 1998.

Definite dates were announced for Black Widow (May 1, 2020), The Eternals (November 6 2020), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February 12, 2021), Doctor Strange: In The Multiverse of Madness (May 7, 2021) and Thor: Love and Thunder (November 5, 2021).

The Eternals is based on comics legend Jack Kirby’s books.

Newcomer Simu Liu will play the hero in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, joining Awkwafina and Tony Leung who were also announced as part of the cast. Liu was originally an accountant before he started acting and got his start as an extra on Pacific Rim, before small roles in Taken, Nikita and Kim’s Convenience. Liu will be in the new season of Fresh Off the Boat.

Shang-Chi is a half-Chinese, half-American superhero well-versed in martial arts, including wushu. In the film, Shang-Chi will face off against the Ten Rings crime organisation, who had been referenced in Iron Man.

The script will be written by Chinese-American screenwriter Dave Callahan while Asian-American Destin Daniel Cretton will direct. Shang-Chi is rumoured to be filmed in Sydney, Australia.

It’s due for release in February 2021, timed to coincide with the Chinese New Year.

Natalie Portman will reprise her role as Jane Foster in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder film, which is helmed by returning director Taika Waititi. She will be co-starring with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson.

However, Portman’s role will significantly change from her previous position of love-interest and astrophysicist in the new film, as she too will wear the mantle of Thor, wielding the famous hammer Mjolnir and adopting the title of Goddess of Thunder.

Loki, featuring Tom Hiddleston, is one of three announced Marvel Cinematic Universe series coming to Disney Plus, joining The Falcon and Winter Soldier and WandaVision. Disney Plus, which will launch in November, will be home to Marvel, Star Wars, Disney and Pixar films and original shows. It will cost US$6.99 monthly or US$69.99 annually.

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