It was 2005, and the idea of an extremely successful superhero movie was heavily based on 2002’s Spider-Man and 2004’s Spider-Man 2 – both directed by Sam Raimi. Conversely, the idea of an unsuccessful superhero movie was undoubtedly attached to 2003’s Daredevil and 2004’s Catwoman. In the case of Fox, the studio’s biggest hits had been 2000’s X-Men and 2003’s X2 – both from Bryan Singer.
From Daredevil came 2005’s Elektra, with actress Jennifer Garner reprising her role as the superheroine, Mark Steven Johnson returning as a writer, and the producing team consisting of Avi Arad, Gary Foster, and Arnon Milchan all back at work. Even though Daredevil did not make a lot of money and was received with critical disdain, Fox decided to double down on the franchise by announcing a sequel and making the Elektra spin-off, regardless of response.
It was hard to ignore the success that Fox had enjoyed with the X-Men and that Sony had gathered with Spider-Man, even if it was evident that not all superhero movies were working at the time. Regardlessly, Elektra got made, and it went on to become one of the most memorable flops in the history of the live-action superhero genre.
These are 15 Shocking Things You Never Knew About The Disastrous Elektra Movie.
15 IT IS ONE OF THE LOWEST-RATED MARVEL MOVIES
Aside from 1990’s Captain America (at 8% on Rotten Tomatoes) and 2015’s Fantastic Four (at 9% on Rotten Tomatoes), Elektra is the lowest-rated live-action film from a Marvel Comics character, having earned a score of 10% on Rotten Tomatoes.
While many critics were quick to point out that Jennifer Garner actually did a good job as an actress, critics also claimed that the material she was given was terrible, that the film’s direction was all over the place, and that pretty much nothing worked. It did not do better than Daredevil, which had already been judged as a very bad superhero movie.
The negative word-of-mouth regarding Elektra was unstoppable, which prompted the film to perform terribly at the box office and never even manage to recover once it was released on DVD.
14 IT PEAKED AT #5 ON ITS OPENING WEEKEND
Even on its opening weekend, the highest position Elektra managed to get at the box office was #5. Granted, it was a Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend in the U.S., which is historically known as a bad weekend for movie premieres, but still: it is unexplicable that Elektra lost to films like Meet The Fockers (which had been out for four weeks) and In Good Company (which had premiered three weeks before). It also lost to Coach Carter (the winner of that weekend) and Racing Stripes.
Elektra did not even make the Top 100 highest-grossing films of 2005 – it is seen at #103. On its opening weekend, it grossed close to $13 million. The movie has a lifetime worldwide gross of $56 million.
13 IT WAS ORIGINALLY R RATED
Though the official, theatrical release of Elektra was rated PG-13 in the United States, director Rob Bowman once told IGN during an interview that the movie was 12 frames away from being considered R-rated.
According to Bowman, the R-rating from the MPAA was apparently because agent McCabe’s head was cut off in a shot, and Typhoid’s death at the end of Elektra was a lot more visceral than how it ended up looking in the final cut.
It doesn’t seem like Elektra was ever going to be a movie with more nudity or more sexual references, but that the R-rating was being considered due to the film’s use of violence, which is what ended up happening in the recent cases of Fox’s Deadpool and Logan.
12 IT IS ONE OF THE LOWEST-GROSSING FEMALE-LED ACTION MOVIES
In the Box Office Mojo list of “Action Heroine” films from 1980 and beyond – which ranks female-led action movies by their box office gross –, Elektra is positioned at #55 out of the total 75 movies currently on the rank.
To no surprise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One sit at #1 and #2, respectively. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is #3, the original Hunger Games is #4, and the newcomer Wonder Woman sits at #5.
Even Catwoman, which is also a female-led superhero movie that was deemed as a failure, sits ahead of Elektra, at #45. Interestingly, 2017’s Ghost In The Shell is #44. +
11 IT MADE FOX LOSE THE RIGHTS TO DAREDEVIL
Even though 2003’s Daredevil didn’t particularly work, it did make enough money and show enough promise for Elektra to be put in production and for a Daredevil sequel to be considered. But after the critical and commercial failure of Elektra, it became strikingly evident to Fox that this franchise and these characters probably had no future with the studio.
For studios to retain the live-action rights to Marvel Comics franchises, they have to be working on and releasing movies with those characters, or the rights end up reverting back to Marvel after a few of years of inertia. As Fox had no intention to lose even more money with Daredevil, Elektra, and their related characters, the studio simply stopped planning films for those characters and, eventually, the rights to them reverted back to Marvel.
It wasn't until 2015 that Marvel Studios would produce (in partnership with Netflix) the TV series Daredevil, and it was only a year later – during the show’s second season – that Elektra would be reintroduced as a live-action character. In 2017, she was also featured in The Defenders miniseries.
10 JENNIFER GARNER AGREED THAT IT WAS A BAD MOVIE
Sometimes one of your stars don’t fully believe in your project – it happens! Most famously, actor Harrison Ford was admittedly quite reluctant about the original Star Wars (now known as Episode IV: A New Hope) during the film’s shooting.
But if the main star (Jennifer Garner) of a spin-off (like Elektra) based on a movie that already didn’t work (like Daredevil) speaks out in public about her discontent in regards to a project… It’s probably a serious red flag.
Jennifer Garner was very honest in a few interviews in regards to her feelings towards Elektra: she thought the movie was really bad. The actress went on to say that the only reason she did it was because she had contractual obligations to the franchise – deals that had been made prior to Daredevil.
9 THE DIRECTOR’S CUT ONLY ADDED THREE MINUTES
A lot of fuss was made out of the Elektra director’s cut edition, especially after director Rob Bowman became outspoken about the studio’s insistence on keeping the movie PG-13.
But, truthfully, the director’s cut edition that audiences were able to see on the Elektra DVD package only really added three minutes to the entire film. As a matter of comparison: the Daredevil director’s edition added 30 minutes to the theatrical version. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a recent superhero movie that also faced critical controversy, also added about 30 minutes to its “Ultimate Edition” cut.
It is safe to say that the Elektra director’s cut made no actual difference in the film and, therefore, had no impact on how it was received by those who watched that DVD.
8 THE MOVIE HAD ALMOST NO SONGS FROM ITS SOUNDTRACK
Elektra’s soundtrack, titled Elektra: The Album, was released by Wind-Up Records in 2005, a label that was then a Sony BMG subsidiary and could claim responsibility for acts such as Creed and Evanescence. However, unlike most soundtracks, barely any of the songs featured on the album were actually in the film.
Out of the fifteen tracks in Elektra: The Album – including Evanescence’s “Breathe No More” – only four actually ended up in the film. A remix of Submersed’s “Hollow” plays in a particular scene of the movie, but only the original song (and not the remix) was included in the soundtrack.
Furthermore, Switchfoot’s “Sooner Or Later” plays in another scene, and the movie’s credits include Megan McCauley’s “Wonder”, Finger Eleven’s “Thousand Mile Wish (Elektra Remix)”, and 12 Stones’ “Photograph”.
7 JENNIFER GARNER SHOT IN WHILE ON BREAK FROM ALIAS
Jennifer Garner’s disdain for Elektra was so real that the actress shot the entire film during a summer break of her hit TV series Alias, which means that she did not compromise a single bit of the production behind Alias to shoot Elektra. Before this current ongoing “Golden Age” of TV, it was quite unheard of for an actor or actress to prioritize a television series over a potential blockbuster, and that was definitely still the case in 2005.
The choice to shoot Elektra during TV summer breaks ended up also being good for actor Goran Visnjic, who was able to be on the film during the summer hiatus of ER, the incredibly successful television series that he was part of.
Alias aired until 2006 – a year after Elektra. ER only ended in 2009.
6 BEN AFFLECK WAS SUPPOSED TO BE IN IT
Despite the Daredevil backlash that arguably set Ben Affleck’s career back significantly, the actor also had contractual obligations to the franchise, just like fellow actress (and future ex-wife) Jennifer Garner.
As the story goes, Ben Affleck shot a cameo reprising his role as Daredevil that was meant to be included in Elektra. Though the character never had a huge presence in this spin-off, he was indeed supposed to appear… But that ended up never happening.
Ben Affleck’s Daredevil never once appears in Elektra, not even in the director’s cut DVD. Though there are no official reasons as to why his cameo was scraped from the final cut, the general assumption is that the studio was probably already giving up on this franchise and there was no commercial reason for that version of Daredevil to make a new appearance.
5 MANY ACTORS IN ELEKTRA PLAYED DIFFERENT HEROES LATER
Of course, just because Elektra failed commercially and critically, it doesn’t mean that the superhero genre wasn’t a great and unavoidable force in Hollywood.
Jennifer Garner seemed to quit action films altogether after the Elektra fiasco and the end of Alias, but her longtime (now ex) husband Ben Affleck would later put his Daredevil days behind by becoming the DC Extended Universe’s Batman, introduced in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and also seen in 2017’s Justice League.
Additionally, actor Will Yun Lee, who played the character Kirigi in Elektra, went on to play Harada in 2013’s The Wolverine. Terence Stamp, who portrayed Stick, not only also played Jor-El – Superman’s father – in the TV series Smallville, but had already also been General Zod in 1978’s Superman: The Movie and 1980’s Superman II.
4 JENNIFER GARNER GOT HURT WHILE FILMING
The most curious behind-the-scenes story in regards to Elektra is how Jennifer Garner got her knuckles hurt – not once, but twice! – in the exact same spot.
Garner’s knuckle damage happened during a particular sword fighting scene with fellow actor Will Yun Lee, who played the character Kirigi in the film. It is particularly interesting that this happened since, by 2005, Jennifer Garner was quite the action veteran due to her lead role in the TV series Alias. Will Yun Lee had also already been in action-packed movies such as Die Another Day and Torque, which means that he was no stranger to choreographed combats of sorts.
Thankfully, Jennifer Garner’s knuckles turned out to be just fine, and as the shooting of Elektra ended in the summer of 2004, the actress was able to resume her activities in Alias.
3 TYPHOID WAS A VERY DIFFERENT CHARACTER
Elektra’s Typhoid had very little to do with the comic book version of Typhoid that Marvel fans were used to seeing. As a matter of fact, the only similarity between the comics version and the Elektra version of Typhoid is that character’s name.
The comic book Typhoid also goes by Typhoid Mary, Bloody Mary, or Mutant Zero. She is usually a villain of Daredevil and Deadpool, and is considered a mutant. Typhoid Mary was first introduced in a 1988 Daredevil comic book storyline, but her one and only live-action adaptation was in 2005’s Elektra.
Also, though Typhoid in the comics is known for being able to use telekinesis and pyrokinesis, she was portrayed in the Elektra film as an assassin (working for the Hand) who had a “poisonous touch.”
2 THE DIRECTOR’S POST-ELEKTRA CAREER
Rob Bowman was hired as a director for Elektra due to his extensive experience directing several episodes of The X-Files television series between 1994 and 2000, as well as the 1998 film of the series, titled The X-Files: Fight The Future. Additionally, Bowman directed a couple of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes in the late 1980s.
The first non-The X-Files motion picture Rob Bowman directed was 2002’s Reign of Fire, a film set in post-apocalyptic England that featured Matthew McConaughey as the protagonist. Even though that movie didn’t make a ton of money and received with negative criticism, Bowman was given Elektra to direct, possibly still due to his tremendous success with The X-Files franchise.
After the commercial and critical failure of Elektra, Rob Bowman went back to TV, most notably directing quite a few episodes of Castle and, most recently, serving as one of the directors for Code Black and The Catch.
1 THE WRITER’S POST-ELEKTRA CAREER
Though Elektra only credits Mark Steven Johnson as the writer responsible for the “motion picture characters,” it is safe to say that he was heavily involved in the project’s writing, especially since he wrote and directed 2003’s Daredevil, the film from which Elektra spun off. He was also credited as the movie’s executive producer.
Before Elektra, aside from his work on Daredevil, Mark Steven Johnson wrote Jack Frost, a Christmas comedy starring Michael Keaton that was considered a box office bomb. After Elektra, he went on to write and direct 2007’s Ghost Rider (starring Nicolas Cage), which turned out to be the last project that credited him as a writer.
In 2010, Johnson directed When In Rome, starring Kristen Bell. As the Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance sequel came out in 2012, he was only credited as a producer. Then, in 2013, he produced Grudge Match, which was poised as a big showdown between actors Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone, but didn’t work as intended.
Do you have any Elektra trivia to share? Leave it in the comments!