Ever wondered why some superheroes wear capes? What in the world even started this trend, and what’s the use of them? Are they just a fashion statement of the superhero world or do they serve a certain purpose? Are they as dangerous as Edna Mode from The Incredibles deems them to be?
In order to answer these questions, we must first delve back to the roots of superhero capes and find out how they were created in the first place.
History Of The Superhero Cape
Y’see Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of #Superman, first came up with the concept of a caped superhero in 1938. The look that inspired them was reportedly Zorro’s, who is seen wearing a cape when in action. Zorro in turn, got his look from the long tradition of the Spanish genre of drama and fiction called capa y espada (cape and sword), which is translated into English as "cloak and dagger." The ideology behind the equipment is that the sword is used as a weapon whereas the cape gives protection to the left arm for warding off any attack with a counter-move. Now that we know how the superhero cape came to be, let’s find out if it’s of any use at all.
Utility Of Some Superhero Capes
After the introduction of the cape, superhero creators started adding it as a part of superhero costumes. While some superheroes were given capes just because they looked good on them or simply suited their personality, others wear them due to certain motives — for disguise, protection or offense. Following are superheroes that use their capes as tools to fight crime.
1. Moon Knight
#MoonKnight has the opinion that bad guys should see him coming, and that will instill terror in them.
“…I don’t wear white to hide myself, I wear it so they’ll see me coming. So they know who it is, ’cause when they see white it doesn’t matter how good a target I am. Their hands shake so bad, they couldn’t hit the moon.” — 'Moon Knight Vol. 4, #1'
His cape helps him a great deal in achieving this purpose. The cape makes him look like an inhuman ghostly figure, and he uses this to create a sense of fear in his enemies. It also makes his body appear larger than usual, making it difficult to find a correct spot to hit him.
Tyrone’s abilities are so deeply linked with his cape that he has taken on the alias of #Cloak. One of Cloak’s main powers is that he can channel Darkforce to surround his vicinity in darkness. Victims of this darkness feel numbing cold, fear and see disturbing visions. He uses his cloak as a focal point to enhance this darkness. Additionally, he can pull people into the Darkforce dimension by opening a portal within his cloak.
#Spawn’s whole suit is symbiotic, meaning that it is "conscious." His cape is more of a shroud, and his suit includes chains as well. Both of them can lengthen and defend Spawn when unconscious. His shroud can become anything he wishes — a glider, weapon or armor. The shroud also helps him shape-shift into anything of similar size.
As described in #DoctorStrange, the Cloak Of Levitation is a relic and it chose Stephen Strange as its owner. The cloak has many uses, the primary one being granting its owner the ability to levitate. It is resistant to several physical and mystical attacks, providing protection to its wearer. It can shape-shift to mimic other garments and can act as an extra limb used to strike, grab or wrap. It does all of this just by responding to its owner’s thoughts.
This promotional video for Doctor Strange perfectly summarizes the Cloak’s capabilities:
Probably the most multi-functional cape of all time is #Batman’s, as it proves to be useful in a variety of ways. Similar to Moon Knight, Bruce believes that frightened enemies are easier targets. His cape provides the same dramatic effect of him being something other than just a man in a costume.
“And men fear most what they cannot see.” – Ra’s al Ghul, 'Batman Begins'
Furthermore, it "hides the body, makes it difficult to know where to strike." Thus, goons firing weapons are not sure whether they are hitting Batman’s body or just the cape. It also provides protection for the caped crusader. His cape is often depicted as fire-resistant with a Kevlar weave to slow the impact of bullets. Thus, not only does it makes Batman a difficult target, but shields him from most weaponry as well. The ends of the cape contain razor-sharp blades that can be used offensively to slice through bad guys.
One of the main functions of the cape is transportation for the bat. Many versions of the cape (including the one seen in The Dark Knight Trilogy) form a semi-rigid bat-wing-like structure that allows Batman to glide into action. The cape also acts as a parachute to reduce his momentum while landing.
Batman Begins shows him gracefully gliding above Gotham:
6. Red Robin
Tim Drake invented his own version of a glider cape to aid him in crime-fighting after branching out from the Batman family. Not only does it help him to "fly"from one place to another, but it can also be used as blades while in combat.
Banshee too has his cape in the form of wings that he uses to fly at subsonic speeds when combined with his sonic scream. He uses his voice to propel him through the air using its sound waves.
A clip from X-Men: First Class shows him learning this ability:
Do you know of any other beneficial capes out there? Comment below!