I finally succumbed and, against my better judgement, rented the Elektra DVD.
An aside: I was sort of surprised that Windows Media player (and Realplayer) can’t play DVDs, even though it pretends it can and adds itself to the autoplay menu, gives you a menu option ot play them, etc. (I had to watch the DVD on my computer because my DVD player’s tray is stuck. Ugh. And to think I drove to a remote warehouse to buy a new remote for that piece of crap). Windows Media Player instead sends you to the web, where it gives you links to payware DVD plug-ins.
Luckily, Media Player Classic plays the DVD handily.
I have a lot of horrible things to say about the movie itself, but suffice to say that watching it is like engaging in a dysfunctional and abusive relationship. You feel dirty and wrong for ever wanting to get anything out of it. Luckily, the mind has a powerful ammnesic faucility, and after looking at the annoying deleted scenes and feeling my stomach churn at the thought of watching The Making Of…, I stumbled into the welcome shelter of Elektra: Incarnations, a documentary consisting of interviews with the comics artists who worked on the Elektra character. Within a few minutes, I was more excited and moved than I had been watching all the previous 97 minutes of the film. In fact, I forgot I had watched the film.
Amid all the cool Elektra comic art, you get interviews with Frank Miller, who created Elektra in his writing debut on Daredevil, saying that the character grew out of the question “Why shoud superheroes have normal girlfriends?”, and with Klaus Jansen, the inker who worked with Miller throughout his original Daredevil run, who showed his actual inks and Miller’s pencils (and sketched script, for the later issues, where Miller gave up the penciller role). There’s something very moving about the respect Jansen has for the work, and seeing him holding up the first pages of Daredevil #190, the final Miller/Jansen Daredevil and the issue that caps the Elektra story took me back to when I read that comic in high school.
Next is an interview with Bill Seinkewitz, who reinvented comics art twice, in the mainstream New Mutants and in the awesome Elektra: Assassin series he did with Miller. Seinkewitz looks like a Seinkewitz character, or like a more muscular Peter Weller. He looks back at the intense creative period when he was working on the miniseries, and his disappointment with the initial lack of response from the comics field.
Finally there are Brian Michael Bendis and Greg Rucka, who worked on Elektra when she was reincarnated as a corporate asset. They talk about the clash of respect (“This material has FRANK MILLER WAS HERE written all over it”) and greed (“you’re going to do it, aren’t you?”). Rucka mentions the intriguing idea he had of making Elektra a heroin user, in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes, and shows the censored Greg Land cover illustrating the idea: An image of Elektra sprawled on a chair before the window, her arm tied with her trademark red ribbon. As Rucka notes, once the syringe on the floor below her was censored out, “it looks like she’s getting an intimate suntan”.
Both Rucka and Bendis come across as nice, but unlike the earlier 3 interviewees, they were “servicing a trademark”, to use Warren Ellis’ term, rather than creating something cool and new.
So, not a total waste.