Going to the Movies:
Elektra (2005)

Elektra (2005) Poster
Elektra (2005)

I finally did it. I found the courage and watched Elektra. According to the public opinion this movie seems to be beyond repair and allegedly even the leading actress Jennifer Garner has told her fans to not watch it. I embraced myself and pressed play…

Elektra of the comics

Elektra’s character came known to the world from Daredevil comics, where she was portrayed as the true love of Daredevil – unfortunately for both of them, turned bad. She was an expert ninja assassin working for the Hand and for crime lords like Kingpin. In the comics the character was full of pain and could-have-should-haves and finally she died – only to come back to life in the famous story “Elektra Lives Again” (fin. “Elektra elää”). And finally she became so popular a character she got many comics of her own, none of which have been published in Finland, I think. I could be wrong since it’s been aeons since I read those stories. But nevertheless, I always liked Elektra for her skill and strength but also for her tragedy.

Against that background it’s a real shame the movie makers have wasted the character on such a mundane story as this movie. You could have shown Elektra as the badass assassin, doing jobs here and there and finally meeting Daredevil and having to face her choices and start the changing process. Or show her death as the best assassin there is, only to be betrayed by her bosses just when she begins to change herself away from the world of crime. You know, anything you want with lots of tragedy and you could do it well without Daredevil.

But no

Indeed. The movie is just a wasted opportunity. They had Elektra, and they had her being played by the very popular at the time Jennifer Garner from the hit show of the time, Alias. Ok, they already had the Daredevil (2003) movie with Ben Affleck, which was such a painful movie to watch I’m happy I have forgotten most of it already.

Let’s be frank, this movie was done after the X-Men (2000) and X-Men 2 (2003) which changed how superhero movies were made and finally gave the movie industry some backbone to actually try make good superhero movies and put some money and heart into them. And one would think that after making Daredevil, which no-one can honesty call a good movie, they would gave learned at the 20th Centry Fox that you actually have to make good superhero movies for people to like them. Then again, the worst part is, no matter how much money they would have poured into this one they could not have saved the movie from its script. It’s just that bad.

The plot
(skip this if you don’t want to know, but this could save two hours of your life)

The movie begins with an assassination job where Elektra kills off more people than just her target. I suppose this is to make us believe here is the badass assassin who values life close to a zero. But in private she’s ready to call it quits when she gets one more gig too good to pass. She’s not given her target yet but is asked to spend a few days in a large building where she rans into her neighbours. A young girl breaks into her apartment and tries to steal stuff from her which is a nice excuse to get to know the handsome father, who’s young enough to be the girl’s older brother rather than father. For some reason which I don’t really understand the fact that the girl is a thief and a skilled one at that, Elektra lets the crime slip. The father doesn’t really seem to care enough as to punish the daughter or even to display any apologetic behavior towards Elektra. Inexplicably, Elektra starts to like the family.

Elektra (2005): Elektra and the family
Elektra with the family she is hired to kill.

And then, surprise, she finds out she is to kill them. I mean, so far these are the only people shown in the movie aside from Elektra’s aide back home, so there are really not that many options. She’s still ready to do it, but finally lets her sniper rifle aim down and decides to cancel the job from her part. Of course, there are more assassins coming and Elektra decides to put her own life in risk to protect this family, whom she barely knows and who to my understanding really don’t seem worth it, especially since she has no idea why they are wanted dead. Maybe they are the bad guys? At least the girl is a skilled thief.

After lots of staring far off and looking broody, the family almost gets killed but are revealed to be natural born super ninjas with superpowers. Then, just when you thought the movie had come to its end, the story continues and something, and then we are revealed the person who hired Elektra to kill the family was in fact Stick (Daredevil’s and Elektra’s mentor), who had used this family to give Elektra a push to the right side… and apparently had also called for the Hand clan of ninjas to hire their best and deadliest assassins after this family. I suppose in the world of ninjas this is sound logic.

The many failings of the movie

Let’s begin with the most obvious, which is the script. It’s lacking a story arc. You know how it goes. You have the initial setup, then something happens which makes the lead character question his or her values and then comes to a solution when the main character has evolved somehow. The problem is, in the beginning of the movie Elektra is already questioning her life choices and thinking about quitting assassination jobs. The fact that she meets the family makes absolutely no difference because she already has gone through the change.

Typhoid Mary of the 90s
Typhoid Mary of the 90s. Ok, so the clothes are pretty… *cough*

The other thing is, the script assumes you are already familiar with everything. It assumes you already know Elektra’s backstory. Ok, well most of us do, but still it would have given some nice contrast to the situation she is in right now. Now it seems she is just either bored or depressed when she gets that far off stare, instead of weighing her values – though maybe she is just bored. Also the Hand seems to be just some weird conceptual thing where these ninjas appear from, and that’s it. Ok, so I suppose you don’t need much background story if you are just hired to kill someone, but it would have been nice if they had gone through the basics as who the hell are these people and why the hell do they have superpowers. Since I’m still stuck in the 90s with my Marvel knowledge it would have been nice to get something to work with. Now, for example, Typhoid was just some chick whose only power is to kiss Elektra in slo-mo. It also seems Typhoid is not the same Typhoid Mary from my youth but some other, new person with a new set of skills.

Elektra (2005) Typhoid kisses in slo-mo.
Typhoid kisses in slo-mo.

The most obvious problem of the movie is that Elektra meets a family she somehow gets attached to, despite the fact that the girl is a compulsory liar and a master thief. I suppose she reminds Elektra of herself in her youth, but since the viewer is not given anything to relate to – nothing nice or likable in that family – you really just don’t care. And that’s the problem. Since you are not given anything to work with you just don’t give a f***. (Pardon my French.)

And then there are the contant questions: What’s her motivation?! Who are these people? Why do they want to kill this family? Why is that girl suddenly with superpowers? Do I care?

Last words

Elektra (2005): Clothing
Elektra’s work uniform.

Minor thanks go to Jennifer Garner. She really tried her best given the circumstances, but what can a girl do when life deals you a pile of this. Also her Elektra costume was totally off. I suppose they had tried to make it more believable, but it was quite unflattering on Jennifer and not even practical for an assassin. So thumbs down for the costume department, too.

Jennifer Garner was correct. Do not go to see this one. It’s a sad thing to watch an action movie where you get so bored you find yourself thinking about an essay due next month rather than concentrate on the movie. Also I just realised I have no idea how the movie ended. I’m sure I watched it all the way to the end, but my brain must have switched on powersaving mode.

What can I say, what a waste of a good character…

Don’t trust everything you read

Ryhmä-X 12/1985 Cover
Ryhmä-X 12/1985 Cover

Finally, the issue where Rogue makes her first appearence! I could hardly contain myself when I took out my Ryhmä-X 12/1985 in mint condition. This was the magazine I almost felt sorry I had to open because no-one had read the magazine before me.  The previous owner had always bought double copies of all the magazines and placed the other one in perfect condition into his collection. Well, dear readers, the magazine has now lost its virginity. I read it. Sorry! :D


Many of my friends who read Marvel comics when they were younger love Rogue. They think she is the perfect female role model, someone to identify with. Rogue was one of the strongest characters in the X-Men and a great fighter. She also cought the best looking man in the group, the mysterious and bit naughty Gambit, and had a particularly problematic relationship with him. She also had her mutant powers, which made her suck out the life force from her victims including their possible mutant powers and their memories and inner feelings.

But the most dominant part was that she couldn’t have any physical contact with Gambit. I know, there must have been countless hours of young girls sighing when they compared their own life situations to Rogue’s. In my youth I had crushes on boys, but I was so shy I never approached them. Well, once I did and it was a total catastrophe. Ok, I didn’t send him into coma like Rogue did, but might have just as well. And I think pretty much all teenage girls had to go through the same problems. You want to, but you can’t and you wonder if you ever will. So in a way Rogue was in all of us. And yet, even though she was sometimes depressed about her inability to touch others, there was no denying she was a strong female. A complex female. Just like us.

Once again, I’m quite excited and a bit scared to see how she comes out now that I’m older.  But on the other hand I’ve been watching X-Men: The Animated Series cartoon from Marvel.com (I’ll write about it later once I’ve finished the show) and there Rogue is definitely just as cool and full of spunk as I remember her.

The Plot

Ryhmä-X 12/1985 Kitty's face
Kitty's face. I suppose it's part of some directions for drawing Kitty that she needs to have large eyes, but I doubt they meant this.

In the beginning we are shown Spider-Woman saving a woman from falling off a bridge. On closer look it’s revealed she’s Carol Susan Jane Danvers aka Ms. Marvel, a former member of the Avengers and it seems she didn’t jump off herself but was thrown off the bridge and her self-consciousness is missing. Spider-Woman alerts Professor Xavier to the case in hopes he’ll find out what’s happened to her. And he does: Rogue.

On next page Rogue beats Captain America and steals his powers with a kiss. In doing so she reminds herself to be careful because if she touches him too long absorbing his powers, the transformation will become permanent.

While this happens, Beast takes care to control Wanda’s eating habits and tells her to stay away from cakes or she’ll grow fat. He, of course, is sipping tea and has a slice of the same cake on his plate.  Nice job, Beast. You little swine…

Ryhmä-X 12/1985 No cake for women
Remember girls, if you want to keep on wearing those skintight costumes without causing severe eye trauma to bystanders remember to stay away from the cake alas you might gain a pound!
Ryhmä-X 12/1985 Bikini babes
Pretty (?) ladies wearing swimsuits. It's times like these you just stare at a panel and think you might have a good chance in drawing comics after all.

Next we are shown how Mystique takes down Iron Man, and she reveals she’s working with Rogue to bring down the Avengers. After Rogue’s attack on Thor goes wrong, she and Mystique go off to rescue the rest of the New Brotherhood of Evil Mutants captured in the last issue where they tried to murder senator Kelly, but are defeated by the Avengers. That’s all quite uninteresting, because the true drama lies with Carol Danvers.

The writers and the Avengers let her down

You see, Carol Danvers had left the Avengers after she was first kidnapped and then raped and then gave birth to an alien child, who after his birth fell in love with her and took her with him to his dimension or something. Wow, talk about bad taste in storywriting. In fact, I believe that story is infamous for obvious reasons amongst the whole comic reading world. And for being subjected to such a horrible fate, when Carol Denvers gets her consciousness back with help from Xavier, she calls the Avengers to come for a visit and lets them know her mind.

“I had become pregnant for unknown reason and gave birth to a child in few days… Naturally I was confused, frightened and in shock.

“I turned to you in search for help, but all I got were jokes. Jan thought it was wonderful news. Beast offered to be the child’s teddy bear.  You all just thought of the child. Nobody bothered to give me a moment in their mind.

“You took everything Marcus had told you to be truth. You suspected nothing. You even let me go with him and waved your goodbyes when you let me go with him.

“I have paid for your mistakes.

“My mistake was to trust in you.”

Ryhmä-X 12/1985 Ms Marvel and the Avengers
Ms. Marvel lets the Avengers hear their worth. Thanks for letting her down.

Ouch! But really, they deserved it. She was raped, got an alien baby inside of her, and they all go giggly for the prospect of her having a baby. And when her child wants her as his lover, none of them think it’s, you know maybe just a weeney bit, sick!

The second story: Strom meets Black Panther for the first(?) time

There is still room in the magazine for another short story and this time it’s about Storm. She’s walking on a street when suddenly a sniper shoots her in the head. Yep, that’s right. The end.

WELL OF COURSE IT AIN’T! The bullet only scratches her and she learns from the assassin he was hired by Andreas De Ruyter aka “The Bull-Ruyter”. The man had tried to capture the Wakandan prince T’Challa in the past. When Ororo goes to visit him he is revealed to be Black Panther. They go after Ruyter and have to fight a robot. After defeating it they find Ruyter sitting dead in his chair. He had controlled the robot with a mental link and after Storm and Black Panther had defeated it, it had also killed him. The end.

Except not quite. Then something weird happens. Black Panther looks at Ororo and says: “It was nice to see you after such a long time. It makes me wonder…” Ororo continues: “…what might have been. Me, too.” The narrator: “They had a special moment in their lives… / …a moment, which once past can never return. They both know it. And maybe that’s what makes the separation so painful. / And yet, they leave. / But they will always be good friends, nothing more. Never.”

Ryhmä-X 12/1985 Storm and Black Panther
Storm and Black Panther have a tender moment though the Finnish reader is left puzzled because they apparently cut off a major part of the story in the Finnish publication.

Excuse me, did I miss something? It’s implied they had romantic feelings for each other, but now it’s over. Could someone, please, explain? When? Where? Or is it only because they are both dark skinned they are somehow expected to feel attraction to each other?

Well, now everyone who has read the story lately knows Storm and Black Panther are married, but I doubt they knew that would happen in the early 1980s when this story was written.

In fact, this story was probably cut down from a story spanning two issues and they cut off all the juicy parts. That would explain why the artist changes mid-story from John Byrne to Bob McLeod.

Rogue – nimi kauniille kuolemalle…

“Rogue – name for a beautiful death…” It says so in the cover and beside it walks Rogue looking as pretty as Byrne can draw her. At least I think it’s his cover, there is no signature visible. Well, inside the artist has changed into Michael Golden with Armando Gil in inks.

In Finland we have a law – at least today we have – which says you are not allowed to make a statement about a product in advertising that is not actually true. I think this magazine cover broke the law. Just look at this.

Ryhmä-X 12/1985 Beautiful Rogue
Rogue's first appearence inside the magazine. As you can see, she's a real beauty.

Here is another flaw the artist repeats. Below is the right side page from the magazine and my instinct is to read these panels starting from top left, then go one panel below and then to the top right panel. Wrong! There is a small arrow that tells the correct direction is to read first the top left panel and then the top right panel and then turn back to the panel below the first one. I think a skilled artist would have figured out some other solution for making the reading order more obvious to the reader than an undersized arrow which interrupts the natural flow. Besides, the page looks messy, there is no space and no eye catcher.

Ryhmä-X 12/1985 Example of bad comic art
Here is an example of another flaw the artist has: bad page design.

Yep. It’s moments like these which make us appreciate the good artists.  Byrne, please come back!

I did Google for more art by Michael Golden and he has made better looking art, so it could very well be this comic was drawn in a hurry, or the co-operation between Golden and Gil didn’t work or something. So don’t label him yet under “the bad artists”. We must wait for another specimen from him to be sure. Let’s give him another chance to prove himself.