Hawkeye Actors Learned Basic ASL To Make Alaqua Cox Comfortable On Set

Marvel's Disney+ series "Hawkeye" is halfway done, and at the end of the second episode we were introduced to Maya Lopez, aka Echo, played by Alaqua Cox. In episode 3, "Echoes," we got to know a bit of Maya's backstory and see her interact with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). Obviously there are some spoilers ahead for the third episode, so be warned. 

In "Echoes," we learn that Maya has been Deaf since she was little. Cox is Deaf as well, and spoke about how the cast learned some American Sign Language (ASL) to welcome her to the cast. Cox was interviewed for Disney's D23 magazine (via The Direct) and said: 

"It was such an honor to work with them both. I think they are spectacular actors, and I have learned a lot from watching them work behind the scenes ... I remember meeting Jeremy on my first day of work on-set; I was a nervous wreck, as this was my very first acting job. He then complimented me in American Sign Language (ASL), which comforted me. Hailee also spelled out her name to me in ASL at the studio where we were doing our stunt training sessions. I thought it was sweet of them putting in efforts to learn basic ASL to communicate with me. It means a lot to me as a Deaf person."

ASL in the Marvel Universe

A little background on Maya Lopez. First of all, we know that her character is getting her own series on Disney+. In the "Hawkeye" series, her beloved father (the incredibly expressive Zahn McClarnon) is killed by Ronin. We don't know if that was indeed Hawkeye in the Ronin suit during his dark years after the Blip, or if it was someone else, but what's important is that Echo thinks it is. She grew up Deaf with a very loving father who taught her to fight and encouraged her to thrive in the world. Echo has made her way up to the top (almost) of the Tracksuit Mafia. Though many of those "bros" haven't learned ASL, her father knew it, and one of her generals, Kazi (Fra Fee) does as well. Hawkeye, who has lost a lot of his hearing from many battles and explosions (and a painful incident in the Matt Fraction comics) knows a little as well. 

This is the second time we've seen a Deaf actress in the Marvel universe. In this year's "Eternals" movie, we had Lauren Ridloff playing Makkari. It's a lovely thing to see. By the way, there are a whole lot of indications that Maya's boss/"Uncle" in the Tracksuit Mafia is none other than Kingpin, brilliantly played by Vincent D'Onofrio in the Netflix "Daredevil" series. If he does show up (as reluctant as I am to speculate after the whole "WandaVision"/Mephisto theory debacle), I bet Wilson Fisk knows ASL as well. He does things for the people he loves, despite what he does to everyone else. Either way, it's a wonderful thing.

"Hawkeye" episode 4 will release Wednesday, December 8 on Disney+.