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!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.