A lot of these online petitions emerging in 2019 are pretty stupid. This latest one, however, is definitely not. While most of these aforementioned entreaties stem from negativity and hatred, Sarah Feisthamel’s idea is all about inclusion and making people feel welcome in the theater. Her goal is to convince those at the top to make The Eternals open captioned so that fans who are deaf or hard of hearing can fully enjoy their viewing experience.
The movie is expected to be one of the biggest releases of 2020 for many reasons. For one, it’s a Marvel flick. That alone means the film will do gangbusters. Secondly, the cast is absolutely star-studded. Most importantly, however, is all of the diversity and underrepresented groups finally being represented in the MCU. While many are discussing the widespread impact of the franchise’s first openly LGBTQ character appearing in the feature, the series’ first deaf superhero will also be making her debut.
Lauren Ridloff, who’s deaf in real life, will be playing Makkari. Her onscreen existence alone is already a huge win for the disabled community, as well as the fact that she communicates through ASL. Millions of people who suffer from audial impairments will get to go to the theater and finally see themselves represented as a superhero, and now, Feisthamel’s hoping that the studio does all that it can to help accommodate these viewers:
“Around 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss, and 34 million of those people are children, according to the World Health Organization. Open Captions are on-screen text that allows everyone to enjoy a film equally. People who are hard of hearing have to use closed caption equipment which is often broken, dirty, and uncomfortable, or have to wait until the video is available at home. Marvel movies are larger than life. All moviegoers should be able to enjoy the action in the theater comfortably, at the same exact time–and not be forced to wait for a lesser experience… The whole world will be rushing to theaters to see this film. But the people who need to see it the most won’t even be able to understand it.”
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Including this facet into the flick will barely cost a dime, especially for a studio that already hauls in billions every year. The incorporation of open captioning doesn’t solely benefit those with hearing disabilities, however. Feisthamel goes onto say:
“I am a stay at home mom of three toddlers. One of my kids has a Sensory Disorder, and going to things like the movies can be pretty traumatic for him. While we’ve been learning ASL so that he can speak, I want him to be able to experience this movie fully. Closed caption equipment often fails, or doesn’t fit right when it’s only available in adult sizes. And captions just aren’t for people with hearing disorders–I also use captions myself at home 24/7 because I have PTSD and loud noises really get to me.”
Marvel has been doing all of the right things with this movie thus far so hopefully, they’ll continue that trend here and do everything they can to make the theater experience an enjoyable one for everyone involved.
The Eternals will hit cinemas on November 6th, 2020.