Feb 13, 2019
Bad Superhero Movie Showdown 2005: Elektra vs. Fantastic Four
By 2005, the new sheen of the superhero genre had already begun to fade. What had started so promisingly with X-Men and Spider-Man rapidly devolved into a mix of lazy cash grabs and PlayStation 2-esque special effects. Aside from the inspired Batman Begins in 2005, the time between 2004’s Spider-Man 2 and 2008’s Iron Man is a swamp of underwhelming efforts. And speaking of underwhelming efforts…
It’s hard to imagine a mindset that would produce a spin-off movie to the Ben Affleck Daredevil film. I understand the appeal of making a Fantastic Four film. They’re characters that people sort of recognize, so why not ruin them for a decade? But were people clamoring for not a sequel to Daredevil, but a spin-off about a side character that died two-thirds of the way through Daredevil? Forget it, Jake. It’s 2005.
Round 1: Worse Hero
Fantastic Four has four heroes in it, and they’re not completely terrible. Ben Grimm is fun, and as the Human Torch, Chris Evans is basically performing a rough draft of Chris Pine’s Star Trek character. Sue Storm could be worse, and Mr. Fantastic is forgettable. None of them seem to eat away at your patience as you watch the movie. And after sitting through Blade Trinity and Spawn, “Not the worst part of my day” is the highest compliment that I’ve given in this column.
Elektra is okay. I like her more by herself than I did when she had to share the screen with Ben Affleck, but it feels like she’s in a race against the script. She desperately tries to hurdle past awkward dialogue and dodge absurd plot points, but by the end, the script becomes a Super Mario Maker level of nonsensical ideas.
I don’t think adding three more heroes to Elektra would’ve fixed it, but if I hate one of the Fantastic Four, I at least have Michael Chiklis’ goofy performance to look forward to. Elektra is on her own, battling the forces of evil and screenwriters alike.
Round 2: Worse Villain
Doctor Doom is an iconic Marvel villain that the movies just can’t seem to get right. “He’s…evil, I guess,” is about all they can come up with. I feel bad for him. They put so much repeated effort into guys like the Joker and Green Goblin, and then when Doctor Doom comes around, all he gets is, “No, but you’re like really bad. Like, you’re just a bad guy. Just bad.”
Elektra has Kirigi and Typhoid. So if you were buying action figures for your kids on December 24, at least you had two to choose from.
Loser: Doctor Doom
“Look, your name is Doctor Doom.”
“Yeah, makers of the movie. I know. But what does that mean?”
“Doom, man. Doom and stuff.”
Round 3: Worse Special Effects
Fantastic Four seems like the last hurrah of the Willem Dafoe Green Goblin “Maybe it’ll look good on camera. Who knows?” trend of superhero costume design. Also, Mr. Fantastic is a CGI nightmare. Making him look less like computer afterbirth should’ve been a top priority when his superhero name is part of the movie’s title, but if someone told me that the guy in charge of designing Mr. Fantastic gave that duty to a random guy he met on the subway, or a dog, I would believe them.
Elektra’s special effects never maintain any consistency, and it’s a little wonderful. I wish there were more movies that could’ve been designed like this one, in either 2005, or 1995.
Loser: Fantastic Four
I know it’s unfair to judge 2005 special effects by 2017 standards, but damn, Fantastic Four. Just give us something that indicates that you care even a little bit.
Round 4: Worse World Building
Honestly, when it comes to setting up a bland template for an origin story, Fantastic Four knocks it out of the park. You get to know the heroes, the villain, some of their internal motivations, and there are some shots of NYC, so you get some location in there, too. And none of it is remotely interesting.
Elektra inspires wonder, but only of the questionable kind. It’s a really simple story. None of it is confusing. But the way that it’s packaged makes no sense. It’s like if a heart surgeon got tasked with a transplant, but decided that the new heart would look way better under the colon. Technically, they did their job. But why?
Loser: Fantastic Four
Is “shrugworthy” a word? I feel like it should be, especially when we’re dealing with this kind of situation.
Fantastic Four is superhero autopilot. It’s seemingly made just so that there can be (another) Fantastic Four movie in the universe. Elektra is truly horrible, but it’s the kind of horrible that makes you appreciate better movies. Plus, at least it attempts something. Fantastic Four exists because we didn’t already have a Fantastic Four movie coming out in the year 2005.