The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Elektra Natchios (usually known simply by her first name) is a Marvel comic book character who is most closely associated with Daredevil. The character was created by Frank Miller, the most important and influential chronicler of Daredevil, and introduced in Daredevil #168 (January, 1981).
Elektra is Greek, or Greek-American. As depicted in the comics, Elektra was born on an unnamed Greek island of the Aegean Sea. In the Daredevil and Elektra movies, her Greek origins are downplayed, and one might imagine she is of Greek heritage but was born in the United States.
Like the vast majority of contemporary Greeks, Elektra's religious affiliation is Greek Orthodox. This also means that Elektra's religious background is Eastern Orthodox, as the Greek Orthodox Church is an autonomous part of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Elektra and her family are clearly depicted as Greek Orthodox in the scene showing the funeral of Elektra's father, in the 2003 feature film Daredevil. The service and the clergyman conducting it are unmistakably Greek Orthodox. Elektra's father is named "Nikolas Natchios", but is named Hugo Kostas Natchios in the comics. Another difference is that in the comics, Elektra's father worked as an ambassador to the United States, whereas in the movies her father worked for the Kingpin, the leader of a major New York City-based crime syndicate. In the comics, Elektra eventually became the chief assassin for the Kingpin.
Elektra has never been depicted as a devout Greek Orthodox Christian or a regular churchgoer. This is not surprising given her profession as an assassin. Elektra is a morally complex character. At times Elektra has aided Daredevil and others in a more heroic mode, but she is best known as an assassin. She may have her own moral code, but as depicted in the feature film Elektra (2005), her work has an assassin has many time been blatantly murderous and illegal. She is not simply an "assassin" for a branch of the military or a costumed vigilante seeking only to defend innocents and bring criminals to justice.
Although Elektra may have had little to do with organized Greek Orthodoxy as an adult, her life is not entirely without mystical influences. After she witnessed the murder of her own father at the hands of terrorists, Elektra sought training in the martial arts so she could protect herself in the future. She first trained under the mysterious martial arts master named Stick, the same person who trained Daredevil. Stick is a member of a benevolent organization called the Chaste, and (as shown in both the comics and the 2005 Elektra feature film), Stick's training strongly incorporated elements of Eastern mysticism and religion. Ultimately, however, Elektra left Stick and trained with the Hand, a mystical sect of clearly non-benevolent ninjas. It was the Hand that trained Elektra to be an assassin, and their darker, more values-free influence arguably had a strong impact on her from that time onward. Elektra never regained the youthful optimism and genial nature she exhibited when Matt Murdock first met her as a 19-year-old college student.
According to some sources, Elektra has been depicted as Catholic in the comics. However, those who have thought that Elektra was depicted as Catholic may simply have mistaken Eastern Orthodox imagery for Catholic imagery, or may have been looking at comics pages drawn by artists whose greater familiarity with Catholic manifest itself even when they were supposed to be depicting Greek Orthodox images. Given the clearly non-religious, un-Christian nature of Elektra's oft-time profession as an assassin, it seems unlikely that the character would go out of her way to convert to any religion. Elektra's long-time love Matt Murdock is a Catholic, but but even for him it seems unlikely that she would convert to anything, nor would he ask her to.
Elektra's religious affiliation was mentioned in Newsweek. (Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, "BeliefWatch: Good Fight", published in Newseek, cover-dated 19 June 2006, page 12):
Another quasi-religious aspect of Elektra's character is the manner in which she has been resurrected, or brought back to life, and the manner in which she has been purified of evil. From: "Elektra" article on Wikipedia website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elektra_(comics); viewed 7 December 2005):
Elektra was fatally stabbed by Bullseye with one of her own sais in a battle over which of them would be the Kingpin's assassin (in Daredevil #181). Elektra managed to crawl over to Daredevil's house before dying in his arms as Bullseye watched the two, hidden among a crowd that had gathered to see what was going on. Later (in Daredevil #190), members of the Hand stole her body and attempted to resurrect her. Daredevil, with the assistance of Stone, a member of Stick's order, intervened, defeating the Hand ninja. Daredevil then tried to revive Elektra himself. Although his attempt failed, it did have the effect of purifying Elektra's soul. Elektra's body subsequently disappeared with Stone.
Years later, it was revealed that Elektra was resurrected by Stone. Elektra's evil aspect had been physically split apart from her in its own body as a consequence of the ritual performed by Daredevil. Her darker half, calling itself Erynys, fought Elektra and was killed by her, thus returning the dark side to Elektra's soul. She wandered the world and became acquainted with Wolverine of the X-Men.
Despite working as an assasin, Elektra often fights for the greater good. She often feels conflicted with herself and tries to do the right thing. She seems to be a perfect blend of good and evil.
From: Heinen, Tom, "God comics: Illustrated fiction spreads word on religious ideas", published in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 11 Marcy 2006 (http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=407297; viewed 8 May 2006):
Delve more deeply into comic book metaphysics, and you can explore the actual or surmised religious affiliations of dozens of superheroes by clicking on the "Comic Book Characters" link at www.adherents.com. Or visit its image-packed companion page, www.ComicBookReligion.com.
Superman is a Methodist and Jimmy Olsen is Lutheran? The Thing is Jewish? Elektra is Greek Orthodox? The X-Men's Nightcrawler is a devout Catholic who once wanted to be a priest? Batman is either a mostly lapsed Catholic or a mostly lapsed Episcopalian?
Yes . . . or more often, maybe.
There have been reverent comic books about Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, but secular publishers - especially the two dominant ones, Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics - have often avoided or only hinted at their superheroes' faith lives.
From: Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, "Beliefwatch: Good Fight", published in Newsweek, 19 June 2006 issue (posted online on 12 June 2006: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/; simultaneously posted on BeliefNet.com under headline "Holy Superheroes": http://www.beliefnet.com/story/193/story_19306_1.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
...[Adherents.com] says "X-Men"'s Rogue is Southern Baptist, Cypher from "New Mutants" is a Mormon and Elektra from "Daredevil" is Greek Orthodox. Captain America is a churchgoer, and Spider-Man sometimes addresses God in spontaneous prayer.
The writer of an article published in the Daily Princetonian appears to have mis-read or mis-typed Elektra's religious affiliation, identifying her as "Greek Protestant." From: Soleine Leprince, "Discussing the origins of religious belief" in Daily Princetonian, 13 March 2007 (http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/archives/2007/03/13/opinion/17697.shtml; viewed 23 April 2007):
Even comic-book heroes are painted as religious: Suppositions have been made that Superman Methodist, Spiderman is Protestant, The Thing is Jewish, Elektra is Greek Protestant and Daredevil is Catholic.
From: Daniel Pulliam, "Religion in Comics", published 14 June 2006 on "Get Religion" website (http://www.getreligion.org/?p=1679; viewed 15 May 2007):
I haven't seen much buzz on the new Superman film, due to hit the screens just before the long Fourth of July weekend, other than it's supposed to be quite good, but this small item [link to: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/] in Newsweek's excellent Beliefwatch section made me think that something's in the making...
The article includes a short snippet of an interview with the founder of Adherents.com, Preston Hunter, who has analyzed comic book characters and found religious denominations for several of them, including Daredevil's Elektra as Greek Orthodox. I say go figure on that one, I never saw the movie, but placing spiritual attachments in fantasy is nothing new to Christians, particularly the fans of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia.
From: Barry Caine, "If a superhero lands in the forest, does anyone hear it?" (Movie Guy column), published 24 July 2006 in Oakland Tribune (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20060624/ai_n16506776; viewed 12 July 2007):
..."Superman Returns," which opens at 10 p.m. Tuesday... Superman's pending resurrection is inspiring super conjecture. For instance, Newsweek's "With Beliefnet.com" column has dubbed the Man of Steel a Methodist.
...while we're on the subject, the article uses data gleaned from Adherents.com to imbue other superheroes with their likely religious orientations...
They decided Elektra is Greek Orthodox. And Daredevil is Catholic, although god knows why.
From: Tosie Bonner, "My church gets pimped...", posted 23 November 2005 on LiveJournal blog website (http://www.livejournal.com/users/tosie_bonner/53069.html; viewed 7 December 2005):
I'll explain - when my wife and I lived in Los Angeles, we attended the St. Sopia Greek Orthodox cathedral. It's one of the biggest and fanciest Greek Orthodox churches in the country. Any Greeks involved in showbiz attended this parish... Anyhow, my wife and I were watching Nip/Tuck last night, and one of the main characters was getting married. He and the other main character are standing outside a church when my wife and I realize, "Hey, it's St. Sophia's!" ...Then they get to the wedding part, and who is playing the priest but St. Sopia's own priest, Father X (I'm not going to name him...)...
You see, this priest looooves attention. He craves the spotlight, and he loves to act. He was the Greek priest in the Daredevil movie too (at the funeral of Elektra's father). He's a nice guy, and gives fairly good sermons, but man...I've just gotta question his intentions sometimes.
From: "Super Hero Religious Preferences" discussion board, started 10 March 2006 (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-113612.html; viewed 24 April 2006):
03-10-2006, 06:27 PM
Ugh. They focused on Elektra in the crappy movie. While it was nice to see the Orthodox in a movie, that doesn't make the movie good. Hell they [Eastern Orthodox] were in Dracula and that still sucked. (Dangit. I didn't intend that pun.) My Big Fat Greek Wedding was good, though they certainly played up some church and cultural things for laughs.
Anyway, I figure Elektra was more into eastern mysticism as she got involved with basically cults in the far east, namely the Hand.
From: Daniel Pulliam, "Religion in comic books", posted 14 June 2006 on "Get Religion" blog website (http://www.getreligion.org/?p=1679; viewed 14 June 2006):
The article [Newsweek, cover date 19 June 2006] includes a short snippet of an interview with the founder of Adherents.com... who has analyzed several comic book characters and found religious denominations for several popular comic book characters, including Daredevil's Elektra as Greek Orthodox. I say go figure on that one, I never saw the movie, but placing spiritual attachments in fantasy is nothing new to Christians, particularly the fans of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia.
[Comments section for this page]
Posted by Katie Q at 11:59 am on June 14, 2006:
As a fairly religious comic reader, this sort of stuff has always been of interest to me. Unfortunately, comic book religion is of a messy and flexible substance, tending to vary from writer to writer in any given series. No hero, even the ones with a noted religion, is devout. Of course, the iconic and universal nature of super heroes precludes any of the major characters being overtly religious (save Wonder Woman, who practices an unorthodox religion, to say the least); most heroes who actually do have a religion at all tend to have ones that are ethnically defined. Thus, Elektra is Greek Orthodox, Italian-American Huntress (from Birds of Prey) is Catholic, and there are a small number of nationalistic Jewish and Muslism heroes.
Posted by Bec at 11:45 am on June 15, 2006:
Yep. Elektra, Greek Orthodox. While I did not see the ridiculous second movie, I did see the ridiculous Daredevil movie, and during a funeral scene for Elektra's father, there is a Greek Orthodox priest in full vestments waving a censer.
From: Steve Kurian (an Eastern Orthodox Christian), "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters", posted 12 June 2006 on "Steve Kurian: engineer... wandering skeptic... street theologian" blog website (http://stevenkurian.blogspot.com/2006/06/religious-affiliation-of-comic-book.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
(Because you really needed to know)
I'm not really this into comic books, but as this is the Summer movie season, comic book characters have been coming up over and over again. So apparently Adherents.com has categorized the religious affiliation of a good number of comic book heroes, obscure and otherwise. Making the list as Eastern Orthodox, Elektra (an assassin), Black Widow (another kind of assassin), and Confessor (an assassin who kills people using rosaries and Crosses). Superman is a Methodist, Batman is a lapsed Episcopalian or Catholic, and The Thing is Jewish, just to name a few.
From: Jan Edmiston (a self-identified Presbyterian), "Where Would Mutator Worship?", postd 14 June 2006 on "A Church for Starving Artists" blog website, part of the "Presbyterian Bloggers" webring (http://churchforstarvingartists.blogspot.com/2006/06/where-would-mutator-worship.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
...Newsweek reported this week that Superman is Methodist... You, too, can find the affiliation of your favorite Super Hero at [link to Adherents.com website]...
Ironically Hellboy is a devout Roman Catholic. Electra [sic] is Greek Orthodox. Captain Steel is Mormon...
From: "Catholic Clix - Comic info needed!" forum discussion started 3 May 2003 on HCRealms website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-40338.html; viewed 24 May 2007):
Ok, so in recent films it's been apparent that Daredevil and Nightcrawler are Catholic...
So, who else out there could be fielded in a "Catholic" Heroclix team?
...BTW, anyone know if Elektra is perhaps Greek Orthodox? I would include her as "catholic" even if she's not Roman rite.
From: "Does Batman Go to Church?" forum discussion, started 21 March 2006 on AppleGeeks.com website (http://www.applegeeks.com/sm/index.php?action=printpage;topic=6662.0):
Title: Does Batman Go to Church?
Post by: gabrielzero on March 21, 2006, 01:11:16 PM
Well find out here:
and other inqueries on which superhero worships which religion. Its a pretty extensive sight with theories and findings.
Oh yeah: League of Eastern Orthodox Assassins and Heroes FTW ["for the win"]. [This poster seems to have been impressed or inspired by a collage picture of Eastern Orthodox comoic book characters, labelled "League of Eastern Orthodox Assassins and Heroes." The picture, at the time this poster wrote, consisted principally of Elektra and Black Widow.]
Webpage created 7 December 2005. Last modified 12 July 2007.
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