Daredevil wasn't good, and Ben Affleck wasn't particularly good in it, but he obviously had off-the-charts chemistry with Jennifer Garner as the mysterious yet very personable assassin Elektra Natchios—and the 2003 superhero movie made enough money ($179 million worldwide) for 20th Century Fox to greenlight a spin-off for Elektra herself.
And so Elektra came out in 2005, 15 years ago today—aka, during the new-release wasteland known as January, smack in the middle of award season—and promptly flopped. It cost a reported $48 million to make and made $56.7 million. It's 11 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
But that's OK, everyone involved knows it went wrong.
"I knew going into the project, because of the short prep, because I only had Jennifer for her hiatus from Alias, which was 10 weeks, and the short postproduction, that we weren't going to be able to make Spider-Man," director Rob Bowman reminisced with Now Playing in October 2005. "We didn't have the time to make Spider-Man. We didn't have the time to make Daredevil!"
Daredevil and Elektra are Marvel-superhero films, the character of Daredevil co-created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett, and that of Elektra created by Frank Miller. But while they counted Marvel Enterprises as producers, they were distributed by 20th Century Fox and are not to be confused with the Marvel Cinematic Universe films that started with Iron Man in 2008 and have since made tens of billions of dollars for parent company Disney, which brought Marvel Entertainment into the fold in 2009 for $4 billion.
Still, it's not as if Marvel and Fox were set up for failure, having previously had success with X-Men, while Spider-Man, released by Sony Pictures, was a monster hit, earning $821.7 million. Garner had a devoted following from Alias and was coming off the hit 13 Going on 30. And then there were the built-in fans of the original comic book character, many of whom couldn't wait to see Garner as Elektra again, tearing up the screen.
But as Oscar winner Halle Berry already knew all too well by then, from the DC Comics side of the coin, sometimes these movies that seem like a slam dunk don't work out the way anyone envisions.
So, in honor of Elektra's 15th anniversary, go ahead and crank up 13 Going on 30. It's a classic.