It used to be an unwritten rule that any and all superheroes... and villains in a lot of cases, were required to wear capes. Capes have been seen less as comics have become more mainstream, which could have something to do with their proclivity in killing their wearers (see The Incredibles or Watchmen for reference on this phenomenon).
Despite their objectionable standing in the 21st century fashion industry, most modern comic characters only wear them for specific purposes. As we will get into shortly, sometimes, they can be the source of a character's main powers or only one small aspect of their entire arsenal of tricks.
Before the comments explode with what truly defines a cape, we decided to look at characters who wear traditional capes, hooded cloaks, and other similar garments instead of simply focusing on one type of cape. Except for the last entry, these will follow in no particular order.
For this list, we scoured the pages of comics and literature as well as several television shows and films to find the greatest capes and cloaks worn throughout fiction to come up with 15 Superheroes & Villains Whose Capes Are Almost As Powerful As They Are.
15 Cloak's Cloak
We are kicking off this list not only with a cloak-wearing character but one whose name is actually Cloak! Tyrone Johnson is one-half of the superhero duo known as Cloak & Dagger having first appeared in The Spectacular Spider-Man #64, written by Bill Mantlo and penciled by Ed Hannigan in 1982. Along with his partner Tandy, he was given superpowers by a chemist working for Maggia and became the dark half of their team.
Tyrone became a being of shadow who hid within his giant cloak. Tandy's opposing powers of light could keep Cloak at ease and the two became superhero crimefighters mostly battling the anti-drug campaign of the 1980s. Cloak is able to tap into the Darkforce Dimension where he can transport or even trap people via his humongous cloak.
The Cloak itself isn't what is powerful, but rather, it has become an extension of his own powers and a conduit for his abilities and connection to the Darkforce Dimension.
14 Batman's Cape
You had to know that a guy called the Caped Crusader would have to make a list about superheroes and their powerful capes. Because Bruce Wayne's superpowers are limited to his account balance, his cape is only one of his sources of power in that it is a heavily modified garment, which can be used to accomplish a number of means.
First and foremost, it is dark and imposing, which helps add to the mystique of the Dark Knight, but in the comics, games, films, and television shows, it has been shown to do much more.
Depending on who is writing Batman's story, the cape has been shown to be bulletproof, fire resistant, tear resistant, and able to become a rigid fabric that allows him to glide for extended periods of time. As a part of the Batsuit, the cape has become one of Batman's primary tools in his fight against crime in Gotham City and it's impossible to imagine seeing him without it.
13 The Spectre's Cape
The Spectre and his costume (cape included) is something of a cheat for this list. While he does wear a cape and it can be powerful, it is a part of him.
The Spectre isn't a guy who decided one day to put on a costume and become a superhero; he is an incredibly powerful entity whose mission is to unleash the literal Wrath of God upon evil men. The Spectre is bound to the soul of a dead human who then takes on the appearance and godlike powers of the character.
As an extension of the Spectre himself, the hooded cape he wears has been used in ways similar to Marvel's Cloak for Darkforce Dimensional manipulation, flight and gravity control, levitation, invulnerability, and just about anything else you can think of.
Because he is essentially God's Spirit of Vengeance, his powers have little to no limit, making his cape a powerful aspect of his being.
12 The Hood's Cape
Parker Robbins was just a regular small-time crook who worked for the Kingpin when he comes upon a Nisanti demon he dispatches with his handgun. With the demon dead, he takes his boots and hooded cloak (as you do) and puts them on. As he fled the scene, he learns that the boots give him the ability to fly, which makes escape that much easier. He later learns that the cape allows him to become invisible so long as he holds his breath.
Robbins takes on the name of The Hood and goes from small-time crook to criminal mastermind. It is later learned that the demon, the cloak, and the boots were all a plan orchestrated by Dormammu to help him find a human host. The powers Robbins had been enjoying were mere gifts lent to him by Dormammu to help him become a more powerful host for him. The character hasn't been around for very long, having made his debut in The Hood #1 in 2002.
11 Harry Potter's Cloak of Invisibility
If you have seen the movies, read the books, or been alive for the past 20 years, you probably know who Harry Potter is. He is a powerful wizard who we get to see go from a little kid in the Muggle world to a magical combatant in a war that embroils all of his kind.
Along the way, Harry is given a magical cloak that enables the wearer to become completely invisible and nearly undetectable by magical means. Through the course of the stories, we learn that the Cloak was given to him by Dumbledore, from Harry's father.
Harry's Cloak of Invisibility turns out to be one of the most powerful magical artifacts in the world, having been created as a one-of-a-kind item that never loses its enchantment. It is one of the three Deathly Hallows, believed to have been created by Death himself.
10 Arthur's Wings
Admittedly, this one is not really a cape per se, but what is a cape? Some sort of garment attached to the shoulders and draped over the back, or some odd wings worn via a backpack on a former accountant's back? Who could say? We do. That's why good ole' Arthur makes this list because he carries the only thing that gives him any sort of superpower over evildoers everywhere.
Arthur was a clerk working for The City before he purchased a flying suit at an auction. The suit was designed to look like a moth and it had a couple of large wings on the back (cape area). He follows The Tick until he decides to make his presence known by assisting him with a little ninja problem. He returns the next day to continue helping and becomes The Tick's sidekick so that he can inject some excitement into his otherwise droll life.
The moth suit he wears does allow him to fly and fall ever so gracefully, making him a necessary addition to the duo (along with his wealth, intelligence, and did we mention wealth?).
9 Superman's Cape
Superman is probably the most well-known superhero of all time. He has been around since the beginning and is pretty much the source of the word superhero so it's no wonder he made this list. While he possesses some of the most amazing powers of all of DC's roster of heroes, he does sport a cape-- and it isn't just a towel he threw over his shoulders one day on the way to work; Superman's cape has some intrinsic powers all its own.
Depending on the origin story, the writer, or media you want to go with, his cape has been shown to be just as bullet and heat-resistant as the Man of Steel himself. Of course, some writers have written it to be nothing more than cloth, easily torn and replaced, but most refer to it as the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby. This would make it of Kryptonian origin and anything from Krypton under the yellow Sun of the Earth has some sort of power.
The cape is most often depicted as indestructible and is iconic of the superhero throughout the DC universe.
8 Batgirl's Cape
There have been six women to take on the mantle of Batgirl. The most well-known is Barbara Gordon, who held the job as the second to wear the suit before she was brutally shot and paralyzed by the Joker.
Like Batman, Batgirl doesn't possess any superpowers of her own but rather is a well-trained, unarmed combatant whose abilities trump most people. Like her namesake, she also wears a batsuit with a cape, which is used for a number of tasks similar to the Dark Knight. Barbara Gordon was a talented and skilled acrobat before she was bound to a wheelchair and she was able to use her cape as an aid to her aerial maneuvers in a way Batman could only look upon with jealousy.
As with the Bat's cape, hers has been shown to be bullet and fire resistant depending on who was drawing or writing about her at the time.
7 Supergirl's Cape
Kara Zor-El is the cousin of Superman and was the last survivor of Krypton's Argo City. Like pretty much every single character in the DC universe, her origin has been altered, retconned, redone, and re-imagined a number of time. Regardless of how she came to be, Supergirl is a Kryptonian on Earth, which makes her as powerful as her slightly more famous cousin. She adopted the same look as Superman and adorned a more feminine version of the costume, but kept the iconic cape, which, like Superman's, is a powerful piece of clothing.
Just like her cousin's cape, Kara's has been shown to be bulletproof and capable of resisting intense heat. It is often shown to be as indestructible as she is and rarely tears, but, like many on this list (especially for DC), it depends on who was writing, drawing, or playing her at the time.
6 Boy Blue's Witching Cloak
If you aren't familiar with Vertigo's title Fables, you should probably remedy that as soon as you finish reading this article. Within the series, Boy Blue is a Fable who has mastered the use of the mystical artifact known as the Witching Cloak.
The artifact is a blue, hooded cloak that extends to the ground and wraps around him entirely, but possesses an immense power of its own. When it is first introduced, the nature and origin of the Witching Cloak are not known, but it is later revealed to have been created from Mr. Dark, a powerful magical entity that threatens pretty much all of existence when he emerges.
Like his fellow Fables, Boy Blue is immortal but lacks any true powers of his own. The Cloak gives him the ability to fly; travel between worlds; contain an infinite amount of items, people, or whatever he chooses to hide within it; teleport; shape-shift; and much more. A
s a weapon, the Witching Cloak helps Boy Blue learn the identity of the Adversary and is instrumental in winning the war, but is also a major factor in Boy Blue's ultimate downfall.
5 Doctor Strange's Cloak of Levitation
Doctor Strange is no stranger to powers of his own. Through careful study and determination, he learned the mystic arts to become the Sorcerer Supreme. While he is capable of performing amazing feats of his own, he does adorn himself with various magical artifacts, which help him to do certain things. The Eye of Agamotto is a sentient mystical artifact possessing amazing abilities, which it confers upon the sorcerer who wears it. His cloak is another magical artifact full of powers all its own.
Strange is able to control the cape telepathically and it allows him to fly (but can also fly on its own). The Cloak of Levitation was given to Strange by the Ancient One after his first successful battle with Dormammu and has remained a main part of his magical arsenal ever since.
He did lose the Cloak once, when he lost the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme for practicing dark magics but regained the Cloak when the title was returned to him.
4 The Cape's Cape
The Cape was a short-lived television series on NBC that aired between 2010 and 2011. Vincent "Vince" Faraday was a Soldier and a good cop who was presumed dead by the residents of Palm City. Unable to fight crime on an even level, he dons the mantle of The Cape so he can fight corruption throughout Palm City.
The Cape is an homage to Batman and he shares many of the same characteristics and traits. Though he isn't a billionaire playboy, he is a powerless superhero who spends his time fighting crime thanks to his impressive skills and martial arts.
Unlike Batman, his cape is just a cape. So, why is it powerful? Faraday has learned numerous fighting styles to include boxing, wrestling, and Army combatives, but he is also a master of stagecraft, hypnosis, and illusions. He is a master of 37 distinct illusions, which he is able to perform to stupefy his enemies all through the use of his cape, which is one of the reasons he adopted the name as his superhero identity.
Unfortunately, NBC canceled the series with only 10 episodes ever airing.
3 G-Man's Cape
Mikey G was just a regular kid who wanted to be a superhero when he found a magic cape that granted him the ability to fly, gave him enhanced strength, and made him invulnerable. The character first appeared in backup stories of the Savage Dragon, debuting in issue #93, written and penciled by Erik Larsen. G-Man is the illustration of every kid's dream: become a superhero just like Superman. Though the character falls within the Image/Savage Dragon universe, the Superman comparisons are clear.
The magical cape didn't stop with just Mikey G; his older brother Dave G was able to take a piece of the cape to make a belt calling himself "Great Man". The series is presented as an all-ages comic book written and illustrated by Chris Giarrusso. There isn't much more known about the origin of the cape, but the comic is presented in a humorous and mocking manner. For instance, the boys' father, Mr. G is rather unimpressed with his sons' ability to fly other than his appreciation that it does keep them off his manicured lawn.
2 Ragman's Rags and Cape
Ragman is a relatively obscure character most people probably hadn't heard of before he made his onscreen debut in the fifth season of Arrow. He first appeared in the comics in Ragman #1, written by Robert Kanigher and penciled by Frank & Nestor Dedondo in 1976, but the character has remained in the background for much of his publication history.
He wears a suit comprised of rags made from the souls of evildoers. He can even absorb the soul of an evil person, which adds a rag to the suit, increasing his power. The suit is an ancient artifact that has been shown to take on different forms. It also gives him numerous abilities such as teleportation, levitation, flight, and much more.
Of course, he also has a cape, which is a part of the suit and therefore an integral part of his power base. He has been seen to telepathically wrap the cape around the likes of Eclipso when needed and it will materialize whenever the wearer is in danger. Rory Regan wears the suit and is one of the few Jewish superheroes to inhabit the DC Universe.
1 Spawn's Cape
Finally, with our number one pick, there was no way it wouldn't be Spawn. Spawn's cape isn't just one of the best drawn costume additions in all of comic book publication, it is amazingly powerful. Spawn is the resurrected soul of Al Simmons who, upon making a deal with the devil Malebolgia, became the entity Spawn on Earth. While Spawn does have great magical powers, they are limited, which is why he often relies solely on his costume to protect him and fight for him.
Spawn's suit is a sentient, symbiotic organism called Leetha of the 7th House of K. Leetha can do everything from modify density to growing chains and spikes, but can also be used to fight for him. His cape expands and grows from his shoulders to encompass and battle enemies. While unconscious, the suit will whip out to maim and dismember his foes. It even pulled Spawn out of a "Dead Zone" at one point to resurrect him.
If a normal person who was not endowed with the powers of a Hellspawn wore the suit, they would be one of the most powerful characters in the Image universe, which is saying something.
Which comic book cape would you rather wear? Let us know in the comments!