General Question

JackAdams's avatar

What's the reason why the creators of so many comic book heroes (like "Superman" and "Batman") felt compelled to give them CAPES?

Asked by JackAdams (6574points) September 15th, 2008

Many characters (Spider-Man, Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman, etc.) didn’t seem to need one, and got along fine without one. Yet. the most famous American icon, Superman, seems to be almost “naked,” without his.

Why do you suppose it seems so natural for him to have one, and what real purpose do you think it serves, other than having a pouch in it, in which to store his Clark Kent clothing?

And yes, I will admit it does indeed look beautiful, to see it flowing behind him in the flying sequences shown in the different TV series and movie incarnations.

But, why does he need to have one? Why does Batman have one?

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15 Answers

cyndyh's avatar

I think it’s easy to indicate movement on a still page if you have a cape. And it’s theatrical.

JackAdams's avatar

I want to publicly apologize to everyone for revelaing Superman’s secret identity on this website. I pray with all of my heart and soul, that Lois Lane isn’t a Flutherer!

brianru's avatar

batman has a cape so he can glide from place to place

PupnTaco's avatar

Capes are fun to draw. Try it sometime.

willbrawn's avatar

I’m gonna take a stab at this. A cape symbolizes power and strength. It intimidates the enemy. I think the same way in nature with birds and whoever can make themselves appear bigger and stronger.

El_Cadejo's avatar

In addition to what everyone said above, its also important to note that Superman and Batman were the first and second super heroes created.

JackAdams's avatar

Respectfully, Batman has no super powers, whatsoever.

He is an expert in all martial arts and is a scientific genius and a master at banking, but otherwise, he is as vulnerable as any other human being.

So, he wasn’t the “second super hero” created.

No offense to any of his fans, because I am one of them, also.

El_Cadejo's avatar

JA stop being so critical Batmans is a superhero. Same deal with Iron Man no super powers, but hes still a super hero.

Actually to be rendered a super hero you dont need super powers.

“A superhero (sometimes rendered super-hero or super hero) is a fictional character “of unprecedented physical prowess dedicated to acts of derring-do in the public interest”

By most definitions, characters need not have actual superhuman powers to be deemed superheroes, although terms such as costumed crimefighters are sometimes used to refer to those without such powers who share other common traits with superheroes.

JackAdams's avatar

Well, Batman did have super-intellect, for sure.

El_Cadejo's avatar

If you want to be real critical about it though, hes a Gadgeteer.

Gadgeteer: A hero who invents special equipment that often imitates superpowers.

hurray for pointless debates ^_^

JackAdams's avatar

It’s funny, but I always thought Iron Man had the ability to remove wrinkles from clothing, “faster than a speeding housewife.”

(Just joking! Remember, I’m a fan of comic books, too!)

tWrex's avatar

@JackAdams I can’t believe you wrote that last answer. LoL I almost choked on my gum.

Batman uses it not just to glide, but to imitate the bat that he is mimicking. The bad guys never seem to be quite as afraid of him when he just turns up behind them, but when he glides down like that, they always run. It is a bit theatrical too.

Superman sucks. Batman rules.
let the flames begin

JackAdams's avatar

Oh-oh! I can sense that you have incurred the wrath of the uberbatman, who will now take up cudgel and smite thee!

You best run and hide…

MarcIsMyHero's avatar

As Uber noted, Superman was the first. He set the precedent. I do agree that the cape was probably added by the young Siegel and Schuster to indicate some motion and a sense of flow to their early (and fairly simple) illustrations. it also created a dynamic look on the page. It was never very functional in the case of Superman…although i do vaguely remember one take on Superman (maybe from one of the old cartoons) that insinuated that without his cape he lost some of his power. In the case of Batman, the cape did serve to help create the illusion of a bat’s wings, but it more importantly it disguised his figure. Batman, as noted above, is a human and vulnerable. He used his moving cape to hide his body from oncoming bullets, making him less vulnerable to attack. Many other early heroes quickly followed suit ( both literally and figuratively), including most of the “Golden Age” of DC heroes and the Fawcett character Captain Marvel (sometimes referred to as SHAZAM). It wasn’t until the heroes of the early 1960’s popped up and began to usher in the “Silver Age” with a more modern, streamline look.

In the Modern Age of comics capes are still present, although they mostly are there just to represent a preconceived notion of “the hero” dating back to the Golden Age. The cape itself is often mocked as being unpractical in modern comics, with a notable example being the Pixar film, The Incredibles.

JackAdams's avatar

I just wanted to mention here, that in the very first incarnation of Superman, that the character (as originally envisioned by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster) did not fly.

He had super-powerful legs, and used them to jump very high, leading to the classic phrase, “able to LEAP tall buildings, at a single bound!”

As I recall, the very first cartoons created of the character, showed him traveling by jumping from place to place, rather than by actually flying, as he now does.

And he would look very strange indeed, without that magnificent cape, fluttering behind him.

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