Best of Frenemies: Daredevil and Elektra

Daredevil is, in many ways, Matt Murdock’s last ditch effort in reining in his vengeful id. Yes, he is a man who dresses in a red horned costume (most of the time) and beats upon any criminals he can find in the course of his evening. DD is pointed, controlled fury, no matter how much it might look otherwise.

Elektra, on the other hand, is erratic, wild, untethered. If you think of Matt as the wild kid who found a way to harness his temper as he aged, Elektra is his mirror, a tightly scheduled, tightly disciplined child—the quintessential beautiful talented bird in a gilded cage—who tastes freedom and cannot stop drinking deeply of it as she reached adulthood. Granted, mostly the way she chose to enjoy that freedom was murdering people for large sums of money, but the point stands.

His dad’s death made him get even more serious about his pledge to his father, her dad’s death became a permission slip to indulge in every violent antisocial impulse that came to her. Thus, their initial romance was fueled by the things they had lost by embracing the opposite of their childhood. For Matt, Elektra was the voice that said it was ok to do things just for fun, just because they feel good, damn the consequences. For her, he was the stabilizing force, evidence of order in her increasingly chaos dominated world.

Of course they were doomed to fail. Psychology has demonstrated opposites may attract but, when it comes to the long term, it truly is the birds of a feather that stick together. Like the couple who are having loud sex one minute and then breaking each other’s stuff 3 hours later, Natchios and Murdock cannot help but inflame each other’s passions and then nearly destroy each other.

Here are some of my favorite examples. Note that despite their tight connection, they have actually had relatively few storylines together.

Noteworthy Daredevil and Elektra Stories

 

 (image from marvel.com)

(image from marvel.com)

DAREDEVIL: THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR #2-3

In this re-telling of Daredevil’s origin written by the master of Hornhead’s reinvention Frank Miller and drawn by one of the best DD artist’s John Romita Jr., the second issue is given over to the Elektra/Matt relationship. Highlighting how twisted by darkness Elektra was before her father’s death, this is the biggest influence on my above discussed concept of DD as the wild child keeping himself under wraps yin and Elektra as the fully sheltered pleasure seeking yang.

 

 (image from denofgeek.com)

(image from denofgeek.com)

DAREDEVIL (Volume 1) #168, 174-182, 187-190

Elektra’s debut through her death. Yes, it happened that fast.

And yet, well, this is the reason the two are still so inexplicably linked. One storyline, 15 issues (4 issues of which she was dead for), one of the indelible tragic romances in comic history. And it is completely earned.

 

 (image from polygon.com)

(image from polygon.com)

DAREDEVIL (Volume 1) #319-325

“Fall from Grace”—also known as the Daredevil Armor storyline—marks the return of Elektra to mainstream Marvel continuity. After nearly 11 years “dead,” she was back. And two different people!

Wait, what?

You heard me, two separate people.

Fall from Grace is overstuffed to the point of chaos and there is not much room for her, ultimately, but it is interesting to see how an Elektra free of her dark impulses would act and how one free of whatever humanity she has would as well.

 I totally forgot McDaniel did Miller lips for her. It's a nice touch. (image from marvel.com)

I totally forgot McDaniel did Miller lips for her. It's a nice touch. (image from marvel.com)

Also worth noting: McDaniel, the artist, can be polarizing but he gives the pure white clad Elektra a full page head shot that is unquestionably striking in its beauty.

 

 (image from marvel.com)

(image from marvel.com)

DAREDEVIL (Volume 2) #76-81

The Kingpin has attempted to save his own hide by turning over all the information he has on Matt’s true identity to the FBI. Elektra, partially responsible for Fisk having that information, shows up to help Matt steal the documents before it is too late.

The concluding storyline to Bendis/Maleev run, this one is noteworthy when it comes to Matt and Elektra because it reiterates how bad they are for one another. Not bad as in “poor fit” but bad as in whenever they get into one another’s orbit, terrible things happen. In this case, it is her being part of the team that convinces Matt to rob the FBI and leads to Matt nearly getting killed by a sniper’s bullet.

 

 (image from comicvine.com)

(image from comicvine.com)

DAREDEVIL (Volume 1) #508–512, SHADOWLAND #1-5, SHADOWLAND: ELEKTRA

I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this as SHADOWLAND is…kind of dour. Also, at first, Elektra seems cruel in a way that she has not been previously portrayed. In the end, however, when she changes her mind and tries to save the possessed Matt from himself, it is yet another reminder of how they are drawn to one another and how their connection only seems to breed tragedy and pain for both parties.

 

 (photo from youtube.com)

(photo from youtube.com)

“Daredevil” the 2003 film, specifically the playground scene

Yes, you hate it. Yes, I know. No, you aren’t wrong, per se. But you aren’t right either.

Look the scene is a kick. A weird kick, sure, but a kick.

In a movie that gave us a more consistent characterization of Elektra—both internally and with the comics version—this scene would admittedly work a lot better. This is Elektra bringing out Matt’s wild reckless side—showing off his abilities so publicly—and illustrates how, for them, the violence has almost foreplay quality.

Unfortunately, that’s not really how Elektra is portrayed in the movie and thus this scene does not carry that wait.

But it is still a kick.