Seriously, what is it with superheroes and capes? No matter how much fashion designer Edna Mode may have protested against them in Pixar's The Incredibles, superheroes just seem to be addicted to them. The latest trend-setter is Melissa Benoist's Supergirl, the Kryptonian hero whose shimmering scarlet cape has taken the world by storm. However, it turns out even Benoist isn't always a fan though. Cast your eyes to Instagram, and you'll see what happens when a cape goes wrong...
This, it seems, is what happens when your cape catches the wind. Poor Melissa!
In the real world, capes became fashionable after the success of the 1920 movie The Mask of Zorro. There's a long tradition in Spanish literature of so-called 'Cape and Sword' stories, and Douglas Fairbanks's film tapped into that in order to recreate the legendary swordsman for the big screen. The Mask of Zorro had a massive impact on comic book creators such as Bob Kane, Jerry Siegel, and Joe Shuster, who couldn't help but use capes when they created characters such as Batman and Superman. From the 1930s onwards, the cape has been a symbol of super-heroism.
At least in the case of Supergirl, there's an actual reason for her to wear a cape. Season 1 included a subplot in which Kara and Winn attempted to design a suitable costume, and they did everything that they could to avoid the cape. After a number of accidents, Winn realized that the cape gave an element of drag to the outfit, helping Kara turn when flying at speed. Without it, there was a risk of her crashing rather than turning!
Supergirl isn't the only hero who benefits from wearing a cape. Batman uses his cape to spectacular, dramatic effect, casting that famous shadow of a bat to intimidate his enemies. Given that he's a master combatant, the Caped Crusader has also been known to use the cape to his advantage in a combat situation. There have been times where he's deliberately snagged a gunman's hand in the cape in order to throw off his aim. Meanwhile, the cape is also flame-resistant, protecting both Batman himself and innocents who are in danger.
Poor Melissa's just learned the hard way that capes can be a problem for even the best superhero though. You can easily imagine Edna Mode printing out that Instagram photo and putting it on her wall, pointing to it for the rest of time as an example of why capes aren't always a good thing. Unfortunately, when it comes to a classic character like Supergirl, a cape just comes with the territory.