Director: Rob Bowman
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Goran Visnjic, Kirsten Prout
Watch Elektra online in the UK: Netflix UK
Superhero movies have become a blockbuster staple, which has resulted in a plethora of characters getting their own outing. Both Marvel and DC have announced their slate for the next several years, but the question that has become increasingly important is when will there be a solo female led superhero film? Lest we forget, before Wonder Woman finally arrives in 2017 – and Captain Marvel in 2018 – there was Elektra, who has been forgotten. And with good reason.
Elektra debuted in 2003’s Daredevil, but when marketing her solo outing, 20th Century Fox tried to associate her with the more successful X-Men franchise – even Matt Murdock’s cameo was cut for the theatrical release.
As an assassin for hire, our heroine is ordered to take out Mark Millar (Visnjic) and his daughter, Abby (Prout), but when she can’t do it, she unearths the wrath of a group of supernatural villains. While most superhero debut movies are often origin stories, Elektra gets all the introductions out the way early, as a target narrates her legend, while she stalks him from the shadows. With flashes of her trademark red standing out from the blackness, it’s a strong opening but, sadly, the rest of the film is an uphill struggle.
Nothing happens for the next 30 minutes before a very weak plot begins that culminates in a rather splendid combat sequence between Elektra and the leader of the villainous group, Kirigi (Will Yun Lee). It’s a battle between the superhero and the supernatural and this might be why, when looking at the wider Marvel universe, Elektra is forgotten. Other hero movies tend to stick firmly to reality – well, as close to reality as can be with a gamma radiated monster and an otherworldly God around. While Thor handles the supernatural expertly, Elektra’s demons are fumbled and unexplained.
Jennifer Garner herself called the film terrible, which might be a little harsh. It shows promise in places and, perhaps, if it had focused on being an assassin movie, removing those supernatural elements, Elektra could have been a good thriller and a refreshing change to the usual superhero formula that became the norm until Captain America: The Winter Soldier broke the mould. But unfortunately, Elektra wasn’t bold enough to push the envelope at a time when superhero movies were still finding their feet.
In terms of tone, another comic book character might ask “Why so serious?” as everything is played out in monotony. Director Rob Bowman stated that he originally made the film for an R-rated audience but, due to Marvel contractual obligations, was forced to cut to suit a more family-friendly crowd. Some elements of the harder rating remain, such as the beheading of one individual and one particular Sai slay to the face. The lack of compensation for the shift, though, just leaves Garner and company with a wooden sheen to their performances.
10 years on and Marvel once again has control of both the Daredevil and Elektra properties and Netflix will soon be airing an original series based on Daredevil. Whether Elektra will appear or not remains to be seen, but the future offers a chance to forget about the 2005 feature movie and reinvent the character. Hopefully, with good reason.
Elektra is available to watch on Netflix UK as part of a £7.49 monthly subscription.