When comic book readers think about Elektra Natchios, they tend to focus on her revealing red costume, her skills with her sais, or her relationship with Daredevil. But Elektra is much more than the usual comic book love interest who shows some skin and competently wields a weapon or two. She’s often tiptoed the line between hero and villain, and along the way, she’s spilled her fair share of blood.
When she was originally introduced in the Daredevil comic book series, Elektra was the kind of woman who could bring out Matt Murdock’s wild side, getting him to speed off with her and leave his best friend behind without a word. She was also the kind of woman who could lure several gang members into a dark alley and kill them without a second thought.
With Elektra about to make another splash on the small screen thanks to Marvel’s Defenders series, it’s that wild and ruthless version of her character we’re going to take a look at, to remind everyone just how dangerous she really is.
We’ve got the 15 Most Horrific Things Elektra Has Ever Done on the page and the screen.
Elektra didn’t just become skilled with her sais over time; she also has some psychic abilities. As a child, she found herself hearing voices and experiencing visions before really understanding what was going on. During that time, as revealed in the Elektra: Assassin series of comics, young Elektra took to self harming to help avoid the visions and drive out the voices.
As a result, her father placed her in psychotherapy, though it’s never revealed if the therapy ended up doing her any good. As an adult, Elektra’s psychic abilities were honed during her experiences with The Hand, allowing her to persuade people to do her bidding, but she also has limited telekinetic and precognitive abilities.
Elektra can also place her mind in someone else’s body, place a shield around her own thoughts, and communicate telepathically. Of course, some of these abilities are thanks to her connection to a mystical creature called The Beast, so it’s unclear how many of them she would have without that connection.
During the comic book run Dark Reign: Elektra, the title character found herself the target of numerous assassination attempts for something she did. The problem was that she had no memory of recent events, since she had been impersonated by a Skrull for a long time.
A former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent had placed a price on her head, blaming her for the deaths of hundreds of other agents killed during the “Blackhawk Incident.” The Blackhawk was a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier that Elektra had destroyed, though she maintained that her Skrull imposter had done it, until S.H.I.E.L.D. and Norman Osborn found evidence that Elektra did the deed right before she was switched out.
Elektra killed the agent who had placed a price on her head, though she did eventually try to make amends with the organization by going back to work for them. Does that really make up for her almost singlehandedly ending the lives of hundreds of agents?
When Elektra was just out of college, she wanted to become a member of Stick’s Chaste. Marvel fans will recognize Stick as the mentor to Daredevil, but for a time, he taught Elektra as well. When he decided that her emotions regarding the death of her father clouded her judgment, though, he dismissed her.
Elektra then took it upon herself to infiltrate his enemy - The Hand - and become a member. This could have been a noble act for someone on their way to becoming a hero, but instead, the group manipulated the young woman, and she became one of their darkest members, willingly killing the sensei who had trained her before Stick and serving them for a long time before deciding to break out on her own.
During her time working as a killer for hire, Elektra took on plenty of questionable clients with questionable motives. She didn’t differentiate between targets who deserved to meet her sais and those that didn’t. In one instance, Elektra was given a task that involved intimidating, and later killing, Ben Urich.
Urich’s name will be a familiar one, even to those who don’t read the Daredevil comics, as the journalist has been a prominent figure in the Netflix series as well. In the comic book case, Kingpin paid her to take out the writer. Instead of flat out killing Ben Urich, she killed those around him, spending a lot of time intimidating him and making his life difficult.
Luckily for Urich, she didn’t manage to kill him because Daredevil intervened, but the reporter definitely wasn’t forgetting her anytime soon.
During a story arc called “The Murdock Papers,” it was revealed that Wilson Fisk had quite a bit of information on the masked vigilante, including his real identity. The Kingpin intended on turning over everything he had to the FBI in order to get himself out of hot water.
All of that information was courtesy of Elektra, who discovered Daredevil’s real identity was that of her college sweetheart not long after first interacting with him. During her time as an assassin for hire, she put together quite the dossier on Matt Murdock on the Kingpin’s behalf, which allowed the crime boss to toy with him for years.
Of course, she did try to make up for gathering the information by trying to help Matt get it all back, but the Elektra that was helping him was eventually revealed to be a Skrull, so we can still chalk this up to another horrible decision by the lady in red.
Elektra and Daredevil might have had their differences, but the two teamed up enough that she wouldn’t work for one of his most well known enemies, right? Wrong.
During her murder-for-hire stint, Elektra became employed by the Kingpin. One of those jobs involved the aforementioned Ben Urich, whom she did fail to kill. She also helped Wilson Fisk gather information on Daredevil for his own use, as we just mentioned in the last entry. Beyond that, though, she also acted as his enforcer, intimidating folks that got in his way and killing those who needed to be eliminated altogether.
Elektra was so good at this job, she even did it beyond the usual 616 comic book universe, holding it down in the Ultimate universe as well. Wilson Fisk even wanted her to remain by his side when he made plans to go into politics.
When Elektra joined The Chaste for a short time, it put her at odds with an offshoot of The Hand called Snakeroot. Snakeroot was made up of some serious assassins, and the group was out for Elektra’s blood during the miniseries Elektra: Assassin.
Rather than continue to fight the collection of assassins in Snakeroot on her own, Elektra decided to do some good and assemble her own crew of fighters, calling them Ryu. With her new warriors, she sought to stop the Snakeroot from getting their hands on pure souls to corrupt or kill.
Unfortunately for Elektra’s new teammates, the ninja really did work best on her own. Her leadership ended up getting everyone else killed, and she was left to defeat the Snakeroot by herself.
When Elektra was taken into custody following her impersonation by a Skrull, she was taken in by a very different S.H.I.E.L.D. than the one she knew. The organization, then known as H.A.M.M.E.R. and run by Norman Osborn, had a bit of a darker underbelly to it.
Osborn proved this when he personally oversaw questioning, testing, and torture of Elektra, as well as the Skrulls that captured her, trying to find out just why the Skrulls were so interested in her. During her capture, an $82 million bounty was out on her, and a mercenary called Paladin came to her, intent on collecting.
Elektra proved herself the more merciless of the two, however, as she managed to get the upper hand in their fight thanks to a broken tooth. When Paladin broke one of her teeth in the scuffle, she spit the broken piece into the other man’s mouth, choking him and enabling her escape.
Elektra has never brought sunshine and rainbows to the comic book pages she graces with her presence, but she didn’t always actively try to get those around her to embrace their inner darkness either. In the “Shadowland” story arc, that’s exactly what she hoped would happen.
Elektra was initially approached by her former teacher Stick to help stop The hand from gaining access to Matt Murdock’s soul. Elektra refused to give assistance, reasoning that Matt could stand to be a little colder - just like her.
Eventually, Elektra changed her mind when she saw a television broadcast featuring Daredevil killing Bullseye and realized that Matt had plans to resurrect the fallen villain. She “joined” The Hand to help the Heroes for Hire in their quest to get Daredevil back to his old self. The ensuing infiltration and bloodshed could have been avoided if she’d helped in the first place!
One of Elektra’s most recent comic book appearances placed her in an unusual spot: as the leader of a S.H.I.E.L.D. team. Though Elektra has frequently done freelance work for the organization in the past, these days, she’s trying to make up for her murder of hundreds of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
During the Civil War II event, Elektra was placed in charge of Phil Coulson’s team, comprised mostly of characters originally created for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series. Elektra’s first act? Reinstate Grant Ward as a S.H.I.E.L.D. asset to assist the team, something no one else was particularly happy with.
Just like on the television series, Grant Ward has a complicated history with S.H.I.E.L.D., and he’s more villain than hero. At least Elektra took precautions, having Ward outfitted with an explosive collar while she carried the detonator in case he betrayed the team, though even that was taking things to Amanda Waller-like extremes.
When Marvel launched its Mangaverse in 2003, it featured very distinctive artwork and a whole new storyline for some familiar characters. Still the same in that universe? The doomed relationship of Elektra Natchios and Matt Murdock.
While Elektra was aligned with a group of villains under The Hand, Matt (still Daredevil and her former lover) was amongst the heroes opposing them. In the midst of a fight, Matt thought Elektra might have been under someone else’s control, but when he discovered she wasn’t, he was heartbroken. Elektra apologized for not being the kind of person he could save - right before she cut him in half.
Just a few issues later, Elektra met the same fate, as Carol Danvers sliced her in two, and Elektra even thanked her as it happened.
Wilson Fisk isn’t exactly the nicest guy, so it’s hard to feel bad for him when someone goes after him. In the case of a Punisher Max storyline involving Elektra, though, readers may have had a little sympathy for him.
In this case, Elektra was no longer the daughter of a Greek diplomat, but a Japanese assassin employed by The Hand and assigned as a bodyguard to Fisk. She didn’t just act as his bodyguard, however, as she entered into a relationship with him, which was ultimately revealed to be a way to get closer to him so that she could kill him.
Whose dastardly plan was this? None other than the Kingpin’s ex-wife Vanessa, who was actually in a relationship with Elektra and wanted revenge for the death of her son.
When Elektra was introduced in the Netflix series, the writers took a few liberties with the character’s comic book origins, but they did make sure she was constantly making Matt Murdock flirt with his dark side.
One flashback to their relationship in their university days saw Elektra bring Matt to a wealthy man’s house, telling him no one was home. Of course, the man did come home, and Elektra revealed that this was the guy who was responsible for Matt’s father’s death as a boy. She didn’t just want Matt to confront him, though - she wanted him to take a particularly final sort of revenge.
Even as the heroic Daredevil years later, Matt isn’t willing to kill people, so Elektra’s influence only goes so far, though her presence in his life does lead to him neglecting his friends and his jobs to help her.
One of the things Elektra is most often remembered for - other than her red outfit and her sais - is the fact that she has a habit of being resurrected. And according to her own creator, that's also one of the worst things she could ever have done.
When Frank Miller introduced her to the Daredevil comics, he hadn’t intended for Elektra to become a Marvel mainstay. Instead, she was used to showcase a different kind of woman in comic books, and a different side of the Man Without Fear at that. Miller was also the one who made the decision to kill the character, wanting her death to leave a lasting impact on Daredevil and comic book readers alike.
After assurances from Marvel editors that the character would stay dead, Miller had Bullseye kill Elektra with her own sais. Marvel promptly brought her back to life, thanks to The Hand, and Miller decreed that the new Elektra was no longer his creation. Since then, Elektra being killed and resurrected has become an integral part of her story, even making it onto the big screen.
Let’s get this out of the way first: we are all very much in favor of more women leading superhero movies. It just so happens that Elektra’s superhero adventure on the big screen was an inarguable letdown.
Jennifer Garner starred as the title character, spinning out from Ben Affleck’s Daredevil film. Garner is likable in just about anything she does, and that’s actually part of the problem. Even when Garner was playing double agent Sydney Bristow on Alias, she was still sweet as can be, and Elektra just doesn’t have that girl-next-door vibe. Elektra is edgy, mysterious, and most of all, terrifying.
Garner did her best, wielding weapons and dominating fighting scenes, but the emotional moments of the movie felt very much like Garner as Bristow and not Elektra from the pages of the comic. Elektra is still cited as one of the reasons female led superhero movies are a risk.
Do you still love Elektra given her bloodthirsty nature? Or maybe you love her because of it? Did we miss out on some of her more vicious moments? Let us know in the comments!
If you want more of the latest on screen version of the character, Elodie Yung will be returning as Elektra for Marvel’s Defenders, hitting Netflix on August 18.