Why Do Superheroes Wear CAPES? || Comic Misconceptions || NerdSync

Why Do Superheroes Wear CAPES? || Comic Misconceptions || NerdSync

(technical music) – Superhero costumes often
strike an intimidating silhouette and a big
part of that has to come down to the cape. But why exactly do superheroes wear capes? (rock music) Welcome to Comic Misconceptions, I’m Scott and this is part three
in our four part series exploring why superheroes are designed in the way they are and if
you want to check out the whole series I put links
to them right up here in the corner and in the description below. In this episode let’s tackle the large flowing capes of comic book superheroes. While fewer and fewer
comic book characters are wearing capes these
days, for various reasons that were explored quite
famously by Watchmen’s Dollar Bill and Edna Mode
from The Incredibles. – No capes! – They are still associated
with many popular heroes like Superman, Batman, Thor, Vision, Magneto, and more. Some comic book characters
wear capes simply because they serve a practical purpose. Like Batman or Moon Knight, who use their capes to glide across
cities, shield them from harm, disorient their enemies, et cetera. Artistically they can
serve the purpose of making characters look bigger and more menacing. Spawn comes to mind with
his enormous flowing cape. These capes have also
been brought up as an easy way for artists to show motion in a panel. They can show the
physics of a scene, which direction a character
is moving and how fast thanks to most of us
being more familiar with physics of loose cloth rather than the physics of superheroes. But how did this tradition
of putting capes on superheroes start in the first place? Well, this is something
that’s been debated a lot with explanations from all over the place. But, let me give you a few main ideas. It’s no secret that superman’s creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel were inspired by circus performers when they designed the man of steel. We’ve already discussed how they adopted the idea of tights and trunks from circus performers into Superman’s
costume design but they also had Superman
wear a cape, similar to the kind strongmen and
acrobats and ring leaders wore. Yes, another design element
straight from circus performers, there seems
to be a theme around here. However, they wouldn’t normally keep their capes on when performing their feats of strength or acrobatics. It was typically something
they took off beforehand but Superman kept his on at all times. Capes also expressed in Superman a sense of majesty and a touch of mystery which helped to showcase the idea that Supes was otherworldly. The bright red flowing
cape was something that was very new to comic heroes and it helped Superman stand out amongst characters like Flash Gordon and the Phantom. This majestic, otherworldly
quality can easily be seen in other comic
book characters, if you want to read a little
too much into things. Which is what we tend to do around here. Capes can help symbolize outsider status. Heroes like Thor or Shazam wear capes to showcase that they are
from different cultures. And you could argue that
the capes of characters like Magneto and Vision
similarly symbolize how they don’t feel they truly
belong amongst humans. Other characters, like
Batman, were said to be inspired by swashbuckling films like The Mark of Zorro. Which is even referenced
in Bruce’s origin. This movie starred
Douglas Fairbanks as the titular character, Zorro. A masked outlaw who sported a long black traditional Spanish cape. A cape that he would also take off when the action was getting started. To be clear, all of
this is not to say that Batman and Superman were the first heroes ever to have capes and everyone else is just copying them. There were pulp heroes before them like The Shadow who wore
capes, but Supes and Bats were massive successes when they debuted. So it wouldn’t be too
much of a stretch to say that the two of them
helped to standardize the choice for superheroes. At least in the golden age of comics. Not so many capes nowadays. There was that show, though, but… But now I want to know what you think. If you prefer your heroes
and villains with capes click right here. If you like your comic
book characters to be sleek and capeleess click right over here. When you vote you’ll be taken back to our channel page where you can watch some more of our edutaining comic
book videos that explore the history, science, and
philosophy behind your favorite superheroes. And if you like what you
see, you can subscribe so you don’t miss the other videos in our superhero design series. So, go ahead and vote already. I want to know what you guys think. Capes or no capes. Choose now.

100 Replies to “Why Do Superheroes Wear CAPES? || Comic Misconceptions || NerdSync”

  1. And let us not forget that trenchcoats were the capes of the '90s! From Grifter to Gambit, trenchcoats took the place of showing motion and looking dynamic while still being all Cool! and Hardcore! which was essential to a lot of Chromium Age heroes.

  2. I know I'm not the first to say it, but wasn't Supe's cape what he was wrapped in as a baby?

    I never understood Superman wearing his costume under his clothes though. It not seems very uncomfortable, but what happens if someone sees the blue under his cuffs or collar? And what about his red boots? How is he wearing shoes over those? And lastly, where and how does he conceal his cape?

  3. Siegel and Shuster both said in interviews they gave Superman a cape so the panels of him going trough the air had more action to it.

  4. Straight locally. Curved globally. Yes, one in ten heroes may be strangled by their cape while attempting to thwart a crime, but a flowing single-colored background that constantly follows an individual helps in-world civilians, as well as readers, to differentiate the superheroes from the vigilantes and the super villains from the D-listers. Although villains usually go with cloaks, but the idea is the same.

  5. I think it all depends on the character. The majesty for Superman and the royals, a touch of mysticism for Strange, Fate and Marvel/Shazam, and the intimidation for Doom and Bats. But for those who need speed and streamlining, no capes.

  6. Great video. Nerdsync is the best comic channel on youtube.If you haven't already subscribed, I suggest you do so for some great content!

  7. Capes look great. But practically speaking, if I was to become a superhero and wanted to beat up bad guys, I would probably find a cape more trouble than help.

  8. When you think of capes what do you think of?
    Vader, Batman, characters who strike fear in the hearts of villains.

    What do you think of when you think of wings?
    Birds, Angels, things that are (mostly) calm, and gentle.

  9. Before I watch, I just want to say something. Capes are a terrible idea for a fighter. I mean, they can be grabbed (same with long hair), you can be thrown by them, the wind can fling them into your face. Sure, batman uses his to hide what he's doing at times, but most heroes just don't have a practical value for them.

  10. On my channel I run a series where I take comic book/anime costumes to a parkour gym to test their functionality in real life. I'm about to do a One Punch Man episode and found this video while researching the history and functionality of capes. Really helped a lot. Will probably link it in my video. Great channel

  11. But I feel like realistically capes would be in the way when fighting bad guys. It would tangle up and stuff like that. Very convenient.

  12. Theatrics, that's the roll/purpose of the cape, the aesthetics of an accessory that looks good on our hero/heroine if you understand that then it's easy to see that the costume is just a big part of theatre, when people look to justify, rationalize these elements they take away some of the joy, colourful magic and of superhero comics.

  13. One reason capes thrived is because back in the days of swords and bows, soldiers wore capes to protect themselves from surprise attacks from bow and arrow

  14. don't wanna say that it's THE reason or even an always true reason, but as a fun bit, jim lee said that the back of a character, is often harder to render in realistic style, and that it is why superheroes often wear capes.

  15. Why most Superheroes or Villains have animal names like Batman Spiderman The Vulture Dr.Octopus Halkeye Black Panther ect.

  16. MOST heroes don't wear capes. DC is more cape friendly than Marvel. The reason heroes wear capes is two fold,
    1: dramatic effect or aesthetic
    2: some sort of utilitarian function.
    Batman wears a cape but over the years technology integrated into it carries a variety of uses. The cape has many purposes, it hides his arms, so you can never tell when he'll throw a punch, a batarang or some other device he's got. Makes him look intimidating to complete the bat motif and larger. Breaks up his form to make it difficult to shoot at the core vulnerable area.
    Villains wear capes more often than heroes.
    The major reason heroes wear capes was the origin of the Superhero genre in the 20's and 30's, but preceding that fictional accounts of heroes and do gooders in capes and cloaks like Zorro whom was introduced in 1919. Superman was modeled after Douglas Fairbanks character so the cape came with. The cape, showman-like boots, belt, and skintight spandex were all derived from circus outfits" and showcased the "performative, even freak-show-esque," aspects of superheroes. This explanation also has going for it the fact that it explains the underwear-over-the-tights trend. Plus capes are an excellent way of expression motion and action in otherwise still images. A cape, a sash a scarf, a trenchcoat, very long hair something that can flow with movement

  17. It all depends on the other elements of design and function. Batman is one of the few physically agile characters that looks good with a cape, but that's because of his theatricality and the fact that the cape helps him glide and merge with shadows. Most acrobatic-type characters would look rather silly with a cape, and it would get in the way in reality. Brawlers are another type of character that don't fit with capes. Superman being a major exception, but the fact that he's a flier makes the cape not only acceptable but almost indispensable. This is why characters like Captain Marvel don't wear them. In a close-up encounter, they would be impractical.

    Most of the characters that look good in capes tend to be fliers and those whose abilities allow them to basically stand in one place and fire away. There was once an issue of the first volume of Avengers where Wonder Man was admiring Carol Danvers (then, Ms. Marvel), stating that she didn't just stand in the distance and gesture like the Scarlet Witch, but hauled off and belted a guy.

    Just the same, there's something about a good costume design that features a cape that I find exciting.

  18. I have a superhero character simply called The Cape. His cape is a psionic neural net which gives him his powers.

  19. when I was a tiny little kid I had Spider-Man pajamas that had a very short cape attached with velcro at the shoulders. Never questioned it.
    then years later Spiderman Unlimited came out and gave him a different but same-length cape that also looked stupid.

    I think we need more heroes that wear proper full cloaks with collars, capelets, etc. and Superman needs to let his down from off of his shoulders once in a while so it doesn't look like he has just attached a rectangular piece of cloth like a flag to his back.

  20. Lol Ms. Marvel doesn't wear a cape, she wears a scarf. And Wonder Wonder only seems to wear a cape as formal wear when her full costume is still called for.

  21. If Bats, Supes, Shazam, etc. suddenly stopped whereing capes, it would feel all too weird, and it would feel oike something was missing, but my own aspirations of character creation are to leave that out, mainly because I like to have the mesorphic image not be covered by anything, anywhere.

  22. To me, a back of a person is empty space. It looks best to me if something is there. Capes, jets, weapon sheaths, backpacks, more armor, tails, spikes etc, but otherwise it's just kinda weird to me.

  23. Capes are actually not useful for flying because they resists air making harder for superheroes to fly.
    Moreover they also provide something for enemies to grab and throw you around so capes are not practical in a fight.
    I think longcoats are much cooler than capes

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