The Cape, The Little Show that Might
Have you ever watched a preview and gotten really excited about it in the first few seconds only to find yourself cringing by the end? That was my reaction when I saw previews for The Cape. As a superhero show it immediately got my attention with scenes of our brooding hero struggling to accept his new life yet unable to say good-bye to the old. So far, so good, but something felt a bit off. I couldn’t quite figure out what tone they were going for and this made me nervous. But, it’s not as though there are a lot of choices out there within the comic book genre, so I figured despite the questionable previews I’d watch the premier and reserve judgement. Now that I have, let’s just say, I still have a few concerns.
Although this isn’t based on an existing comic book, it does capture the feel of one. It’s got a classic superhero origins story and costumed villains. The Cape’s nemesis, Chess, wears a snazzy black mask and has a red leather jacket that is reminiscent of the classic 1930’s hero The Rocketeer and he almost looks better than The Cape. The story chugs along predictably….average guy unfairly accused of heinous crimes appears to die, is rescued by a bunch of circus folks and must choose to live in secret fighting crime in the hopes he will one day clear his name and return to his loving family. Okay, maybe the circus rescue isn’t so predictable and it is kinda creepy, but it’s the circus leader who gives our hero his cape so I’ll forgive that little bit of nightmare inducing weirdness.
All in all, a predictable yet fun superhero origins story. But then we get to the cape, the thing that defines our hero and becomes the centerpiece of his very Roman Gladiator meets Batman costume. It is one of the cheesiest bits of CGI I have seen in years. I’d be willing to forgive this, to look right past it, but it’s the name of the show and our hero so it should be amazing. He whips it around like a crazed toreador, and then it exhibits Stretch Armstrong-like powers, reaching out and wrapping itself around the bad guys to knock them to the ground. The magic carpet in Disney’s Aladdin was more impressive.
The problem with the cheesy CGI cape attached to his otherwise real costume is indicative of the problem with the whole show. It can’t decide what it wants to be. One minute it’s serious drama as our hero’s wife and son try to deal with his staged death. The next it’s the silliness of a circus performer hypnotizing our hero into wearing women’s lingerie. In one scene he carefully cuts up an old aviator’s mask and hand sews it into just what he needs, but in the next he’s whipping that ridiculously fake cape around his head again like a fool. Despite likeable characters and promising storylines, the show needs to figure out if it wants to be the next Heroes or the next Greatest American Hero. If it can do this, then it just might turn out to be a fun ride.