There is an old saying to the effect that he who tries to do everything does nothing well and I think that would be my major criticism of the new superhero TV show The Cape. It’s really a show that doesn’t know what it wants to be, and as a result it ends up being a muddled mess IMHO.
Does it want to be a family drama? Is it a superhero show? Is it a comedy? Is it an action-adventure show? Who knows? I don’t even think the producers do.
I’ll give a perfect example of what a muddled mess it is from the second episode. The villain of the episode (a guy with lizard skin) is thrown into a cage at the end of the episode by members of the Carnival of Crime (who are heroes, but they’re not…) and as this guy who we’ve been made to hate for the episode is being marched into the cage at gunpoint we’re suddenly given flashback to his days in a freak show and how much his life has sucked. (As justification for him hating being put in the cage, I guess.)
Now the reason this is a perfect example is this- so the show has made us hate him, but now as he’s getting his comeuppance for his evil deeds suddenly we’re supposed to feel sorry for him? What the hell? What do you want your audience to feel, producers? Do you even know? Was there a reason for this? No, I think you were too busy thinking how to insert flashbacks to the hero’s son every five minutes which generally served no point except to have a cute kid on the screen. Hell, the kid, who actually has nothing to do with anything in the story of the episode almost gets as much time as the hero guy! (Yes, I know, the hero is doing this for his kid, and he misses him, that’s fine, we didn’t need to be reminded of it every five minutes!)
Speaking of our hero, I get that he’s supposed to be a “normal guy” (who once was a superbadass commando and police officer) who’s been thrust into the role of superhero and is now waging a one-man war on crime. But every time I see him in the costume I cringe and think about how I’m looking at a guy wearing a bad carnival costume. Now, that isn’t entirely the costume’s fault, a lot of that is how they use it and how the lead character moves in that costume.
Have you ever known a martial artist? I mean a real one, not your cousin who took a few classes for a couple years, but maybe the guy who was teaching him. A martial artist doesn’t move like a normal person, there’s a smoothness to their movements that comes from the sheer amount of time they spend honing their bodies and practicing hand-eye co-ordination. The smoothness is the result of them making very little wasted movement, and they do this subconsciously in their normal lives. If you want to see what I mean watch a Bruce Lee movie, or a Jackie Chan flick and pay attention to how they move when they’re not fighting. They’re bundles of control, and this reflects in everything physical they do. This, by the way, can also be seen in many polices officers and is definitely a trait you’d find in a real superbadass commando as well. (Both things our hero is supposed to be.)
So, how does our hero in The Cape move? He moves like your cousin who took the lessons for couple weeks from the real martial artist down the street. I don’t mean the fights with the stunt double whose probably a real martial artist, but when he does simple things like jump around or even climb a ladder. There’s no smoothness to his movements, and the people filming this aren’t even smart enough to cut around it like they do in movies.
I was also going to go into the whole stylistic approach to superheroes as well (superheroes exist in hyper-reality, and by making this “real” every chance they get they ruin that) but I don’t even think it’s worth it.
The sad thing is, Smallville is doing superheroes better than this, and it’s Smallville!