Frank Miller remains consistent, disowns Netflix Elektra


Frank Miller is the Donald Trump of comics, replacing Alan Moore who used to be the Donald Trump of comics in that every little utterance of his was fodder for headlines and web traffic. Miller’s been retired from public speaking for a while but the Dark Knight III promo process—and a series of appearances in foreign lands—has provided a fresh platform and ample ammo for SEO air strikes.

This time it’s Miller’s appearance at Brazil’s Brazil CCXP a few weeks back, where Miller’s comments are just being extracted from Google translate. First it was the fact that he hadn’t watched the Daredevil tv show!!! OH THE HUMANITY. This time it’s the impending appearance of Elektra in season 2, portrayed by Élodie Yung. which drew a pointed response:

Not only that, but Miller downplayed the coming 2016 season’s effort to introduce Yung as Miller’s creation Elektra Natchios, saying “they can call it whatever you want, but it will not be the real Elektra.” Protectively, the author also added “Yes, I’m her father.”

So which I reply…so what. Miller did create Elektra! And that gives him protective rights all the way. No creator is required to love an adaptation of their work, whether it’s deliberate (creator controlled work) or via the work for hire framework of mainstream comics. Miller may have signed away all his rights to Elektra, so Marvel/Disney can do whatever they want with her, and he’ll cash his paychecks, as the system requires. But he doesn’t have to say he loves it. Or even watch it.


BUT let’s roll back the clock a little: Miller has ALWAYS been protective of Elektra, even when it was just the comics. After killing her off in one of the most memorable mainstream comics storylines of all times, he and Lynn Varley produced Elektra Lives Again, an original graphic novel whose very title was a troll. Because you see, Marvel had agreed not to bring back Elektra without Miller’s approval, a very rare concession to the creator that was made while Marvel was still a privately owned company and the stakes of multi media aren’t what they are now. And because “dead is dead” is so tenuous in comics, there needed to be one or two characters who just DON’T COME BACK. For a while it was Phoenix, then Elektra and longest of all Bucky but…it never ever lasts. Such a popular character as Elektra could only be kept dead for so long and eventually Marvel changed hands and brought her back as a Skull and then just another character.

However, Miller was never on board with any of this. In interviews that are no longer available on the internet, he would often say “Elektra is still dead,” basically throwing out all those other versions as surely as he has his own writing contribution to DKIII.


Interestingly, Tim Callahan has a look at ELEKTRA LIVES AGAIN which points out it isn’t as popular as many other Miller works despite its high quality:

So why doesn’t Miller talk about it much at all, and why is it not placed higher in the Miller pantheon by readers? Possibly because of the story, which is a melancholy tone poem of loss and suffering, and probably because Miller doesn’t want to talk about Elektra anymore and so he doesn’t. That’s just a guess, but there’s certainly something important in the betrayal Miller must have felt when he was promised that Elektra wouldn’t be used in the Marvel universe except when Miller was ready to return to the character, and then the news that Marvel was going to use Elektra regardless of what some of the editors may have promised in previous years. “Elektra Lives Again,” possibly meant as a cathartic epilogue for a character Miller birthed into the world instead became a tombstone in a neighborhood tainted with memories of broken promises and fractured relationships.

So yeah given more than 30 years of history with the character, Miler is allowed to say “Elektra, I AM your father,” in English, Portuguese or any other language. He has his Elektra and Netflix can have theirs. And you can have them both!


  1. Laurie S. Sutton says

    Frank is allowed to have any and all opinions about his own creation that he wishes to express. I was in the room when he created her. He knew what he was getting into and he had a plan. Some of that plan came to fruition. True, promises were made. But the ownership of Marvel changed, Frank moved on to DC, etc. Things changed.

    I have a personal attachment to Elektra, too. I provided her last name. I helped conceptualize her costume. I was there.

    Time and commercialization march on. Frank — and every other commenter on the internet — has an opinion about it. Fine. Bring it. You’re allowed.

  2. says

    Well, I don’t understand the usefulness of this paper. I thought at one point that Miller would have added why he doesn’t like the TV version of Elektra. But no, nothing.

    Of course, we can enjoy whatever we want, I agree on that but was an article (this long) needed ?

  3. Lucia says

    Elektra is my top, most favourite comic book character. I give Mr. Miller his due and I always will. However, excusing dismissive comments that affect real people (the actors themselves, other creatives given control of the character) is never going to happen with me. What he said wasn’t very nice and saying so isn’t an opinion, simply stating what should be obvious.

    Him being Elektra’s “father” and all, you’d think he’d have her best interests at heart and let her go. Us simply folk are capable of seeing the character in different stories, in different universes, and still be able to determine who the “real” Elektra is. Having the character participate in an incredibly successful show is a good thing. Throwing shade on it is not just sour grapes, but immature and weirdly possessive. Elektra belongs to Marvel, not Mr. Miller. All due respect, of course.

  4. Robert Stanley Martin says

    Miller did create Elektra! And that gives him protective rights all the way. No creator is required to love an adaptation of their work, whether it’s deliberate (creator controlled work) or via the work for hire framework of mainstream comics.

    I don’t know if you intend “work-for-hire” to mean that Miller created Elektra on a freelance basis for Marvel. But Miller doesn’t appear to have been a freelancer when he was writing and drawing Daredevil in the early 1980s. He was working for Marvel between 1979 and 1982 under contract. While I haven’t seen his specific agreement, there are enough Marvel creator contracts from that period in the public record for me to feel fairly certain he was in fact a staff employee. Perhaps Laurie Sutton can clarify this. But even if Miller was working for Marvel on a freelance basis, the paperwork for that would have clearly spelled out that the company owned and controlled everything he did for them

    Marvel had agreed not to bring back Elektra without Miller’s approval, a very rare concession to the creator that was made while Marvel was still a privately owned company and the stakes of multi media aren’t what they are now.

    I’m not sure about this, either. There doesn’t seem to have been any written agreement between Marvel and Miller to that effect. There’s just a claim that an editor made a promise to him. The editor, namely Ralph Macchio, doesn’t appear to have corroborated that claim. As such, it appears to be just a rumor.

    But even if Macchio had promised that, it should have been understood that Macchio meant that it was for only as long as it was Macchio’s decision to make. I would think Miller was savvy enough to know that unless Marvel was willing to contractually grant him project approval, Macchio’s promise was not binding on the company.

  5. Chris K says

    When I met Miller at a signing for the first Sin City collection in early ’93, I asked him if he had any kind of agreement in place regarding use of Elektra by others. (Elektra Lives Again was a year or two old at that point. Marvel had not yet brought back Elektra, but they had brought back Bullseye, which negated the entire book, and it seemed like the writing was on the wall.)

    Miller told me that, no, he had no agreement at all.

    Now it may well have been that he just did not want to discuss his private business arrangements publicly (to some random nobody), and it may have been more complicated than he made out, but his answer to me (random nobody) at the time was straightforward enough.

    I remarked “I’m surprised that we haven’t already seen “Elektra #1″ written by Tom DeFalco out there.” He responded “Well, when you do, do me a favor and don’t buy it,” which seems to me that he saw the same writing on the wall…

  6. Matthew J says

    Comics fans, or at least those who post comments online, seem unique among fan groups in their disdain for creators who express displeasure over their treatment by the big companies.

    I’m not aware that Frank Miller, or anyone else, has ever claimed that Miller had a “written agreement” with Marvel, re: Elektra. And I don’t think Miller, or anyone else, has ever challenged Marvel’s legal right to do with Elektra as it pleases.

    What I HAVE heard/read Miller say is that the company promised him something and then broke that promise, and that he is unhappy about that. Which is a perfectly legitimate and understandable reaction. And yet it always seems to provoke the tired old “he should have known what we was doing” finger-wagging comments from fans.

  7. says

    I was under the distinct impression that Frank Miller had created Elektra before he became a comics pro and used her in fanzines. Is this not true? (Too lazy to do the research myself.)

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