After the Q&A session, we got back on the bus and headed to the studios on the north side of Vancouver. As we pulled up to the gate, I saw that it was “Lions Gate Studios”. (It seems appropriate that Elektra is shooting here considering the deal that Marvel and Lions Gate recently put together to make comic movies.) After arriving, we were lead to a sound stage where they had recently been filming. It is there that production designer Graeme Murray started giving us a tour. He has worked on X-Files, Smallville, Never Cry Wolf, Iceman, and more.
Inside the stage, they were dismantling part of Mark Miller’s cabin set. It was a rustic beach cabin with an old Christmas tree inside. In the film, those pesky Hand ninjas attack our heroes here as well. After shooting in the woods, Jennifer Garner and the crew would be returning to this set in the evening to film a shot of Elektra facing off with one of the ninjas. In this particular scene, a ninja is seen crawling on the roof of the porch, and Elektra stabs him from underneath with, presumably, her sai. He then disappears in a cloud of smoke. After looking around the set a little, we moved on.
Next we were led to another sound stage where they were building the interior of the Natchios mansion. The mansion will be made to look like it has been shut up and abandoned for 15 to 20 years. There will be all sorts of pieces of furniture in the room covered in white sheets. Apparently at one point there will be a battle with more ninjas in there. The roof of the set is also open for wire stunt rigging. Big lights also sit outside the windows to give the room a look of daylight. The crew was still working there and shooting would take place at a later date. As we left the stage, we passed by a kitchen set that was still under construction.
We then proceeded to the art department in a nearby office building. As we stepped in, the halls were lined with artwork, costume sketches, and photos of locations around Vancouver. As we were given the tour, I checked out as much of the artwork as I could. On one wall were all the costume sketches. I saw the costumes for Kirigi, Tattoo (aka Tengu), Stone, Typhoid Mary, and Kinkou. Interestingly, one of Typhoid Mary’s costumes looked like a Japanese kimono and she had a white painted face like a geisha. It seemed to be a slight twist on her comic character’s white face. The other characters were all wearing white or beige robes.
I also got my first glimpse of Elektra’s red outfit. (Keep in mind this was before the photos of her outfit were released.) There were probably six or so drawings of her costume. They were all red variations and they included long pants, head scarves, or bandanas. All of them seemed stylish yet functional at the same time. The final version in the photo was slightly different than these, so I don’t know if they are versions we’ll see later or if they were early incarnations of the final costume.
Tattoo (aka Tengu) is one of the main characters in the film, and as you may recall his body is covered in tattoos that come alive magically. There was one board that was covered in photographic references of tattoos. There were Yakuza full body tattoos, pictures of animal tattoos, pictures of animals, etc. The photos looked like they were taken from various tattoo books and websites.
As we walked down the hall, I got a look at other drawings. There was one series called, “McCabe’s Farm”, and it’s apparently where McCabe ends up buying the farm. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) There were other drawings of a Japanese garden on top of a skyscraper. It’s apparently the Hand’s headquarters. There were also photos of Japanese gardens in and around Vancouver on the board next to the artwork. I also saw photos of various mansions around town and shots of a big indoor swimming pool in a glass and iron enclosure. These are presumably locations that will substitute for parts of the Natchios mansion, though I could be wrong. I also saw a drawing of a location called the “Log Hiding Hole”. It looks like Mark and Abby hide there in the woods when the Hand assassins attack. Not far from it was a drawing of the hydraulic 80 ft tree that Elektra brings down on top of Stone’s head (as previously mentioned).
We then walked into the art department office and met a few people (whose names I unfortunately missed, though they said they worked on The Chronicles of Riddick). As we entered the room, we saw a wall covered in storyboards from the film. The guy there then jokingly jumped up and covered them up saying we couldn’t see them because they were from the end of the movie. We laughed, then they let us check them out. The scene appeared to be from a battle in Mark Miller’s beach cabin between Elektra and a ninja. In the shot, the ninja throws a sai or knife at Elektra and it sticks in her. She then throws one back at the ninja and kills him. That was about all I could decipher before we moved on. It certainly looks like the fight scenes are going to be grim and gritty in tone with Daredevil.
With that, our tour was pretty much concluded. We hopped back on the bus and went to the hotel.
After visiting the set of the film, I can’t easily say whether this movie is going to be awesome or if it’s going to sink. But I can say one thing about it. The cast and crew seem to be excited about the material and there’s a definite desire to please fans. And yes, Jennifer Garner seems to be one of the nicest people in Hollywood. I can also say that there’s going to be a ton of action and lots of ninja butt kicking, so it has that going for it. We’ll see what they end up delivering to theaters on February 18th, 2005, but I can already say that Elektra looks better than Catwoman.
I want to thank Carol Cundiff and Michael Broidy for hosting the geek press and me in Vancouver. It was a real blast and it was a pleasure to see that the Fox PR folks were as genuinely excited about this film as the comic fans. Stay tuned to SHH! for more Elektra coverage in the coming months!
Source: Scott Chitwood