Marvel's Eternals deaf superhero causes massive spike in sign language interest

You're not the only one Googling "learn sign language for beginners."

Jennifer Bisset
Jennifer Bisset
Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
Expertise Film and TV Credentials
  • Best New Journalist 2019 Australian IT Journalism Awards
Jennifer Bisset
Eternals group shot

Eternals (2021)

Marvel Studios

Eternals might have divided audiences, but there's one thing certain: Its representation is having a big effect.

It features Marvel's first deaf superhero -- Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff. Makkari uses American Sign Language to communicate with the other Eternals.

According to research by Preply (via Independent), there's been a 250% increase in searches for "learn sign language for beginners" in the past year.

On top of that, searches for Ridloff herself have increased worldwide by 550% since Nov. 1, just before the movie's release. Finally, the search query "first deaf superhero" has doubled since November last year, when Eternals was originally slated to be released.

"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," Ridloff told The New York Times on the importance of her character. Ridloff has been deaf since birth.

Eternals was released in the US on Nov. 5 and grossed $71 million in its opening weekend. It stars Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek and Barry Keoghan.

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