Elektra Natchios, the heroine portrayed by actress Jennifer Garner in the 2003 film version of Daredevil,” is making a habit of rising from the ashes, from the dead. So is Garner. It’s a nice morning on the Vancouver set of “Elektra,” but Garner’s laying flat on her back, down for the count. The setting is Capilano Park, the surroundings are nothing but tall trees, and Garner is surrounded by dead black leaves. Then, director Rob Bowman, veteran of the “X-Files” franchise and the dragon feature epic Reign of Fire, steps forward and yells “Action.” Garner remains still, clad in black leather and blue jeans, while the seductive villainess Typhoid Mary (Natassia Malthe), covered in black, stands over her, ready for the kill. It seems that Typhoid Mary has just given Elektra Typhoid Mary’s signature kiss of death, the kiss itself having been filmed on the previous day, much to the disappointment of everyone in attendance.
But can Elektra ever be killed? Wasn’t the film version of the character killed by Colin Farrell’s Bullseye character in 2003’s “Daredevil?” According to “Elektra”’s producer Gary Foster, who also produced “Daredevil,” Elektra’s resurrection is part of a plan the filmmakers had to combine Daredevil and Elektra into a super-hero film trilogy. “We came up with the idea of an ‘Elektra’ film while making ‘Daredevil’, explains Foster. “Our plan was to introduce both of the characters in ‘Daredevil,’ then do an ‘Elektra’ film and bring the two characters together in ‘Daredevil 2,’ and that’s still our plan. As for bringing Elektra back from the dead (the comic book character first appeared in Daredevil #168 and was killed in Daredevil #181 before being resurrected), we’ve come up with a very interesting explanation for how Elektra’s resurrected and that plays into the style of the film which is to include a lot of magical, mystical elements. The comic books had a theory for how Elektra could be resurrected, but ours is different.”
“Elektra” takes place several years after the events in “Daredevil.” Elektra’s still hungry for revenge over the murder of her father, leading her into the life of a dangerous, lethal assassin for hire. With her great beauty, and fighting ability, Elektra makes a great assassin. Elektra joins forces with a secret group of mystical ninjas known as the Order of the Hand. The conflict in the film, and the main arc in Elektra’s character, occurs when Elektra’s sent to kill Mark Miller (Goran Visnjic) as revenge for the actions of Miller’s grandfather many years ago. But when Elektra locates Miller, and is ready to kill him, she makes contact with Miller’s thirteen-year old daughter, Abby (Kirsten Prout), who reminds Elektra of her younger self, so much so that Elektra pledges to guard Abby and Mark with her life, which is good since Elektra’s betrayal brings the wrath of the Hand, and various dark agents in their employ.
The carnage is visible on this June day of filming as not only are Elektra and Typhoid Mary present, but so are Abby and Mark, as well as the Hand’s deadly Ninja assassin, Kirigi (Will Yun Lee), along with scores of other Ninjas present on the set. In the scene, Typhoid Mary, having dispatched of Elektra, is about to turn her murderous intentions to young Abby. Mary’s eyes are a blackish blue as a result of actress Malthe using various contact lenses. Before she can attack Abby, who possesses magical powers of her own, Kirigi appears and stands in her way. Abby then moves behind Kirigi and throws something at Kirigi, the exact weapon to be added in post-production, and while Kirigi reacts to this, General Zod appears. Actually, it’s veteran actor Terence Stamp, who lists the role of General Zod in “Superman II” as one of his favorite roles. Stamp plays Stick, Elektra’s blind former mentor whose action to banish Elektra from his training camp, due to her violent soul, helped lead Elektra to become an assassin in the first place, although Elektra was seemingly born to be bad.
It’s a scene of total mass carnage. According to Foster, there’s a definite method to all of the mayhem. “The key relationship in the film is between Elektra and Abby, and Abby’s father too of course, but Abby and Elektra share a special bond because Abby has extraordinary abilities and Abby’s close relationship with her father, Mark, reminds Elektra of her own relationship with her father,” says Foster. “Elektra, who appears to be a soulless assassin at the start of the film, can’t find it in her heart to kill them so she turns into a mercenary and vows to protect Abby and Mark from the Hand. What’s interesting is that Elektra thought that Mark was the target, but then the Hand kidnaps Abby and they seem more focused on her.”
The introduction of supernatural elements into “Elektra” is mostly due to the existence of the mystical Order of the Hand organization. “The members of the Hand aren’t just into martial arts, but they’re involved in black magic as well,” explains Foster. “There’s different villains and they all have different skills. The Hand works with a form of black magic called Kimiguri and it’s an ancient form of black magic and it brings the ability to see into the future. Kirigi’s the leader of the Hand and Typhoid Mary is a sexy villain who kills anything she touches or kisses, except for Elektra. We’ve got great villains in the film, a great variety of villains. There’s even Tattoo, a villain who has the power to bring his animal tattoos to life.”
When the aforementioned scene is continued and Bowman yells “Action” again, Stamp steps forward, armed with a bo staff, and breaks an imaginary chain, one to be added in post-production, that links Abby and Kirigi. “The war is over,” mutters Stamp, to which Will Yun Lee cooly responds, “The war has just begun.” Then, scores of Ninjas jump down from the trees, and Abby, Mark and Stick are surrounded. Actually, the actors are just pretending to look at Ninjas, since the scene was filmed earlier. A crew member jumps out during each take to mimic the appearance of a ninja army, a sort of human green-screen. All of this time, Elektra’s still laying flat on her back, completely zonked. It’s not until director Rob Bowman walks over to Garner that she’s able to open her eyes. The crew laughs, Garner climbs to her feet.
It seems like every actress who appears in a comic book film these days repeats the same mantra of how they had to learn an incredible amount of martial arts for the film, trained endlessly for six months with martial arts experts, etc., but for Garner, playing Elektra, in her own film, forced the actress to have to read a lot of comic books, both Elektra’s appearances in Daredevil and the numerous Elektra comic book spin-offs. Garner developed some interesting ideas about Elektra Natchios and, yes, Garner says that Elektra’s costume in “Elektra” is red, like it was in the comic books, with some black tinges. “Elektra is a lethal character,” says Garner. “In ‘Daredevil,’ I think you could see her becoming lethal, but she needed to be pushed over the edge and she fell in love with Matt Murdock in the film which made her feel vulnerable. Since her father’s dead, murdered, and Matt’s gone from her life, she feels like there’s no life for her anymore. When she was younger, in college, she wanted to make the world a better place, which is what she had in common with Matt Murdock, but when her father was killed, everything changed for her.”
Get the rest of the interview in part two of THE AGE OF ELEKTRA>>>
Posted on December 22, 2005 in Interviews by David Grove
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