September 20th, 2021 Last Updated on: September 21st, 2021
Marvel has a reputation for creating fictional superheroes that resonate with audiences worldwide. Come late fall, indigenous fans of Marvel will have one of their very own.
The Disney+ series “Hawkeye” will feature two indigenous actors, Alaqua Cox (Menominee) as Maya Lopez and Zahn McClarnon (Lakota) as William Lopez. Other actors to join the series include Jeremy Renner (as Hawkeye), Hailee Steinfield, Vera Farmiga, Florence Pugh, Fra Fee and Tony Dalton. Social medias response has been overwhelming with fans who are looking forward to an indigenous actress who is also representing the deaf community.
Echo, who first appeared in Daredevil #9, was created by David Mack and Joe Quesada. The superhero is a huge victory for the deaf indigenous community, who are tragically underrepresented in Hollywood. The character will be graced with many amazing abilities such as martial arts skills, telepathy and superhuman strength. Maya’s backstory is rich and complicated and the hope is that her indigenous background is not minimized but celebrated. Echo will first appear in “Hawkeye” and there's even a possibility that Disney+ could develop a spinoff.
Indigenous representation has been riddled with issues for years, which forced many to write their own stories. The lack of accurate representation has ushered in shows such as “Reservation Dogs” and “Rutherford Falls.” Indigenous characters were either portrayed as flat non-dimensional beings who added very little to the overall movie. The heroes have almost always been white men—even when telling indigenous stories written by non-indigenous writers. The indigenous community has been disappointed before by casts, storylines and characters arcs. This, however, has led us to fully support indigenous actors who consistently fight the Hollywood system to accurately portray characters.
Although small, the deaf indigenous community does require acknowledgment and representation—especially in Hollywood. Disney+ has a huge responsibility to both communities. In a 2006 survey, the National Center for Health Statistics documented the prevalence of hearing loss in the indigenous community. According to the study, 1 in 4 indigenous persons over the age of 18 report some level of hearing loss. For the deaf indigenous community, there are additional challenges including being independent within the tribal community, poor support systems and the fear of being sent to schools away from the community. Alaqua Cox’s visibility figures to only open up more doors to other native actors with different abilities.
Marvel fans across the globe are excited to see this new Disney+ venture and we only wish it’s the beginning of indigenous characters and actors getting the spotlight. Etan Cohen and Emily Cohen are slated to write and executive produce the possible Echo spinoff that hopefully features more indigenous characters and cultivates viable storylines that enhance indigenous culture.
In the Marvel comics, Echo and Willie Lopez have many adventures and cross paths with various superheroes, which means both Alaqua and Zahn can be permanent fixtures in the Marvel Universe.
Featured image credit: Slash Film
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