Batman has been a multimedia star since almost his inception. From comic to serial, to TV show to cartoon to movie, Batman, and specifically Batman’s costume, have been depicted by multiple talented artists and designers.
But there is one aspect of Batman’s costume that live-action takes always get wrong. Always, in fact, must get wrong, and that’s Batman’s cape.
BATMAN’S CAPE DEFIES THE LAWS OF PHYSICS.
Here’s a fairly clean image of Batman. Note in particular how long the cape is. The bottom points of the scalloping barely hit the middle of his calves, about two feet lower than his hands, more or less. Also note how the cape just kind of falls flat. There’s stiffness and support around the collar, but by the bottom is light enough to by caught playfully in the breeze.
Okay, below, in this classic image of Batman leaping to catch his prey, notice how the formally lank cape juts out stiffly to the sides to simulate wings. This also casts an imposing shadow on would-be muggers Batman is about to beat the everloving hell out of.
CAPES DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!
Without support, the cape should follow behind, like Superman’s does under the same conditions. God bless Batman Begins for trying. At least there they have Lucius Fox explain the cape is made from “memory cloth” that can form certain shapes with a jolt of electricity. That at least acknowledges that something else would be required to pull that off the bat-shape, but doesn’t explain why Batman would do that, or how it doesn’t create enormous drag.
Also note that the cape seems to have grown by two more feet on either side as well. The cape grows even longer when Batman wants to loom menacingly. Suddenly, a cape which barely hits the top of his boots completely covers his feet AND can be wrapped around him like a shroud. And why doesn’t Batman trip over this extra long thing every time he throws a round house kick?
The artists “cheat” the size and shape of the cape for dramatic effect, of course. This is something that you just cannot do with real, physical capes, but pencilers and animators do all the time.
And Batman is a hell of a lot less scary when his feet are poking out the bottom of his cape.
Steven Padnick edits comics books. By day.