With the critically dissed Elektra finishing only fifth in gross ticket sales over the weekend -- behind even Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) bizarre zebra-fueled Racing Stripes -- one wonders what the dismal showing means for Marvel Enterprises (NYSE:MVL). Fox (NYSE:FOX) put out the superhero flick, but Elektra was the latest character from the massive Marvel vault to be given the feature-film treatment, and the comic-book giant has been there to grab a piece of the action every single time.

Marvel, of course, is ultimately at the mercy of the movie studios. All of Marvel's movies, including winners like Spider-Man, X-Men, and the original Trinity, and its more disappointing multiplex performers like The Hulk and Elektra, feed off its popular characters and storylines, yet the studios' handiwork is what separates the blockbusters from the turkeys.

So what about Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation Marvel? Well, the highly anticipated Fantastic Four movie comes out in July. And Sony (NYSE:SNE) is already working on the third installment in the Spider-Man series, due out in May of 2007. Yet after an enviable streak in which every Marvel-character film -- even the mediocre ones -- opened on top, Elektra and last month's Blade: Trinity have missed the mark.

Marvel may have another worry, too. With Time Warner breathing new life into its Superman and Batman franchises, it's not as if Marvel has the market cornered on popular superhero action flicks.

The good news is that live-action celluloid isn't Marvel's lone source of revenue. From merchandise deals to Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) video games to mobile phone content, Marvel owns hundreds of desirable "characters" at a time when content is king. The first few whiffs of box-office success led to Marvel's dramatic makeovers in its balance sheets and income statements, but Marvel has grown bigger since then.

So, yes, it was surprising to see Elektra bomb over the weekend. The Marvel engine does rely on a hit film to help propel many of its other revenue channels. But as everyone knows, one body blow doesn't mean the end of a superhero.

More Marvel-ous takes:

Did you catch Elektra over the weekend? Was it really that bad? Is Marvel really at the mercy of a perpetual hit movie? All this and more -- in theMarveldiscussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz didn't see the movie over the weekend. However, when he went to catch In Good Company on Friday night, Elektra was the only movie sold out. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its stage of defiance.