Starring Jennifer Garner and Terence Stamp. Rated PG.

For male comic-book fans, stereotypically lacking female company, a comic-book heroine services their fantasies: she'll rescue them from bad guys, and then from their virginity. They're all impossibly hot, but Elektra might be the hottest.

Like Catwoman, Elektra is technically a villain but with many redeeming qualities, the foremost being her proclivity for wearing wisps of red satin in lieu of a uniform. Invented by Frank Miller during his incredible run as a Marvel Studios artist-scripter in the early '80s, Elektra is a psychotic assassin with a heart of gold. Born to Greek parents who indulged her precocious talents in the martial arts, Elektra was the college sweetheart of another superb fighter, Matt Murdock. (They also shared a sensei, Stick.) After her parents' murders, Elektra went the crazed-revenge route, soon falling in with a group of modern-day ninja called the Hand. Eventually, she became a topnotch killer, a career path that brought her into conflict with ex-boyfriend Murdock, who had become the blind superhero Daredevil. Their love-hate relationship ended with her death (at the hands of a different villain, Bullseye).

Elektra was such a great character that Miller resurrected her in Elektra: Assassin, a graphic novel ambitiously painted by Bill Sienkiewicz in which the reborn vamp vanquishes Nick Fury of SHIELD and the president of the United States. Wotta woman! As played by Jennifer Garner, she was also a big part of the 2002 Daredevil movie, starring Ben Affleck. The underrated adventure included a truncated version of her affair with Murdock and execution by Bullseye (lovable Colin Farrell at his eyebrowiest).

Once again, Elektra has risen from the grave, this time to star in her own movie. Given the quality of the script, I'm not sure the effort was worth it. The story is ridiculous (the ultimate killer becomes a matronly protector), larded with painful comic relief (assassins have agents!), and abounding in bad lines. Garner is comely but can't surmount the material. Rob Bowman, director of the excellent Reign of Fire and many of my favourite Star Treks, makes individual scenes look good, using shadow and an inexplicable abundance of wafting textiles to disguise obviously underbudgeted sets. But it all leads up to fight scenes that are choppy, incoherent, and derivative at best. All in all, Elektra is a distressing throwback to Marvel movies before they were good, with Garner as the new Dolph Lundgren.