To Cape or Not to Cape
Superheroes can be summed up into two broad categories: with and without capes. Fans around the world recognize Batman, Superman, and Thor all by their distinctive costumes and capes. And while superheroes like the Flash, Captain America, Wonder Woman, and Iron Man choose to forgo the wearing of capes, we believe it is not because they have anything against capes; rather, they probably have pragmatic reasons for going sans cape when saving the world. Let’s take a look at the best superhero capes.
Capes for All
The Man of Steel’s red streak as he flies at supersonic speeds is known by all the world as a symbol of good. It serves as a flag of what Superman represents- his family heritage, the meaning conveyed by the symbol of the House of El: Hope. Similar to the son of Krypton’s cape, Thor’s mighty crimson cape signifies Asgard royalty as well as a force to be reckoned with by his foes, including his half-brother Loki (who himself regals himself with a dark cape the reflects his conniving, sinister soul.
The Bat Effect
First and foremost, the best superhero cape is the one that you designate as yours and yours alone. The superhero customizes his or her cape’s appearance and functionality as well as what it signifies. Batman’s costume provides us with a great demonstration of a superhero’s cape serving several purposes. Let’s say you’re a criminal carrying out your typical nefarious nocturnal activities, whether it be stealing valuables or ruining innocent lives. Suddenly you hear what sounds like giant wings whoosh around you. A cold chill runs up your spine; you whip around and see nothing. Another loud whoosh behind you and you whip around again only to catch a glimpse of a huge flapping wing-like thing, like that of a pterodactyl or perhaps, a Bat. As fear grips your heart, knowing that you’ve attracted the unwelcom attention of the city’s Dark Knight, you panic and try to run. From what you know, the Batman doesn’t play. He’s been known to break bones and just make it a really bad, painful day for a criminal.
There’s a whoosh above you, you look up, see enormous bat wings descend on you and let out the beginning of a terrified scream before you’re slammed into the concrete ground by a crushing downward force (in the shape of booted dropkick to the forehead). Batman’s cape induces fear. It induces pain. And as we saw in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, the Caped Crusader employs his cape for much more than striking fear in the hearts of criminals: he uses it for gliding and mobility. In a final confrontation with his former mentor and friend Ra’s al Ghul, he deploys his cape to escape a crashing train.
Batman’s signature cape also sends a message to anyone beholding it. To the law-abiding citizens of Gotham, the Bat cape and Bat signal mean that justice is afoot, and there’s someone looking out for them. To criminals and supervillains, these signals mean someone’s looking for them, not to protect, but to bring swift punishment for evil deeds. To this author, Batman’s cape could very well be the best superhero cape for these reasons.