“YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M CAPABLE OF…” –Dwight K. Schrute, 2005, quoting Lex Luthor from superhero show Smallville in 2001.
Later to be ressurected as a line from another superhero show on NBC in 2011.
Strap on your utility belts, chums, as…
NBC’s new superhero offering The Cape swoops into the old Heroes timeslot this week and takes a DRASTICALLY different approach to its mythology-peddling.
How drastic? Try 1992 drastic.
“Hey wait”, said the one geek in the room, “ain’t that when Batman Returns came out?”
Yes, geek. That’s exactly right.
We’re guessing whoever’s helming primetime’s newest caped crusader hasn’t seen a superhero movie since then. Either that, or they’re just plain ignoring them.
In a lotta ways, The Cape is the antithesis of NBC’s last super-outing, Heroes. Whereas Heroes did everything it could to downplay the “cape and cowl” aspects of crime fighting vigilantes, setting its storylines and characters in the real world, The Cape, for good or ill, embraces the glory of its four color roots without even a hint of crippling self-awareness.
There are corny speeches, leather masks, rooftop-jumping, training montages and they even go so far as to rip-off pay homage to the Penguin’s gang of thugs, “The Red Triangle Gang” – an underground-dwelling band of circus freaks – in the form “The Circus of Crime”– an underground-dwelling band of circus freaks. (Although tonally, they’re more in tune with the singing, cavorting “Court of Miracles” gang from Disney’s The Hunchback of Note Dame than the backup villains from the 1992 Tim Burton film.)
But does it all work?
Surprisingly, better than it should.
Now, we don’t know if it was madness or genius that prompted The Cape creators to basically ignore all the post-modern hoopla that saturates the celluloid spandex of today, but by joyfully embracing the tropes of the genre, The Cape somehow manages to charm its way into…well…kind of a win.
Don’t get us wrong – everything likeable about this show is cobbled together from Batman’s various onscreen incarnations: It’s got The Dark Knight’s politics, Batman Begins’ lighting, Batman Returns’ tone (and score) and the story-complexity of the 90’s animated series.
(Also, due to their complete lack of menace, we think a couple of the masks might be on loan from Adam West.)
The show isn’t without its highlights, though. The action is pretty decent, thought not budget-defying. And its casting ranges from good decisions (epic-voiced Keith David) to smart decisions (genre babe fave Summer Glau in yet another incarnation of a kickass warrior nymph incapable of smiling).
But aside from some genuinely funny one-liners here and there, The Cape (both character and show) does every single thing you’ve ever seen, seen again, seen again and seen again, without apology or obvious embarrassment and does it with such blissful ignorance of how played-out it actually is…that it sorta becomes cool again.
That’s the best way we can explain it.
We could also slap on an analogy of a high school kid being so confident in his outdated clothes, unpopular interests and outlandish dance moves, that he actually becomes a trail blazing trendsetter, but we don’t know if it’s necessary. How about instead, you just watch the African Anteater Ritual sequence from Can’t Buy Me Love and save us some keystrokes?
So – bottom line…
Is The Cape worth a watch? We guess so. But not an expensive watch. Maybe a Casio. The Cape is a refreshing retread of the super hero genre, if that paradox in terms is even possible. But don’t expect it to accidentally break any ground while going out of its way to avoid breaking any ground.
We’ll put it this way: If you really loved Superman Returns, don’t watch. If you loved Kick-Ass, don’t watch. If you loved Watchmen, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t watch.
But if, while watching those flicks, you found yourself thinking, “Hey, you know what I miss? Good guys who aren’t in high school, suffering from erectile dysfunction or afraid to throw a punch”, then The Cape might just be a good fit for you.
P.S. Anybody remember Nightman? Us either.