You may think that Darth Vader wears a cape to complete his menacing look. His cape certainly does add to his intimidation. Yet, it actually serves practical purposes.
So, why does Darth Vader actually wear a cape? It has more to do with the cape’s protective features than its evil look. Completing his appearance is important, but the cape plays a vital role in protecting Vader.
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What Is Darth Vader’s Cape Made Of?
Darth Vader’s cape is made of armorweave. This is a cloth material that acts like armor. It provides protection from the environment and can withstand many elements, including acid and fire.
Armorweave is actually very similar to Kevlar. This real-life material is used to make bulletproof vests. Like Kevlar, armorweave is also very heat-resistant, very tough, durable, and yet flexible.
Some products today actually use the name armorweave. These items are made from synthetic fabrics that are shock-absorbing and insulating. Helmets, vests, and footgear are made from them.
Along with these durable aspects, Vader’s cape was designed to allow movement. So, his cape allows him to fight while protecting him.
How Does Vader’s Cape Protect Him?
Vader’s cape has protective features, including being able to block fire and shots from blasters. Made from armored cloth, the cape can even resist lightsaber blows.
Vader is not the only one who uses a cape in Star Wars for these purposes. General Grievous also uses an armorweave cape. Bounty hunters are also known to use capes with armorweave.
Although the cape seems superficial, it helps protect Vader from one of the things Anakin Skywalker detested the most–sand. Anakin commented on his hate for sand in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
The cape stops sand and other particles from messing with Vader’s armor. Debris and sand could potentially cause problems with the electronics embedded in his armored suit.
The cape extends to the ground past the length of his body. This level of protection not only keeps Vader safe, but more importantly helps shield his life support system.
The Cape and Vader’s Life Support System
The cape is part of Vader’s life support system. Vader’s armor suit is what directly covers his life-sustaining system, but the cape still serves a role too.
Anakin Skywalker was severely burned in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. To keep him alive, the Emperor had the black armored suit made for Darth Vader.
The armor is what protects Vader’s body. His helmet is also important, as it is connected to the life-support system. Vader’s cape provides an additional layer of protection to complete his armor suit.
Vader’s cape can help ward off elements that may damage this essential life-support system. You can think of the cape as the last line of defense for keeping Vader alive and breathing.
In particular, Vader’s cape helps protect the circuits that run through the suit that monitor cardiac and respiratory systems. His cape partially shields the essential electronics that allow Vader to breathe.
Without the cape, his life support system could be in jeopardy.
Is Darth Vader Like Batman?
Darth Vader and Batman do have much in common. Both speak with a deep and intimidating voice. Both tend to press fear into their opponents. And, yes, both wear black capes.
Both Batman and Vader also use their capes for defense. Batman deflects shots fired at him with his cape in a way that is similar to Vader’s use of his cape as a shield.
Both tend to use their capes as a backup defense system. Both can employ their capes for protection. And, some contend that Vader actually uses Batman’s ninja-like tactics.
In the comic book Star Wars: Target Vader #1, Vader employs stealthy Batman fighting techniques to take out members of a group called The Hidden Hand. He also extracts information from a sole survivor.
Vader usually prefers to confront his opponents directly and lightsaber fight. Yet, he is sometimes forced to use tactics like Batman, at least in the comic series.
Vader’s Sense of Style
Although Vader’s helmet and life-support armor are the most important aspects of his ensemble, his cape is still essential. Not only does Vader’s cape provide necessary protection, but this black cloak also projects a sense of style.
Protection comes first, but striking fear into his enemy is a close second.
Todd Wahlstrom is a creative and analytical freelance writer and life-long Star Wars fan. He has covered such topics as Darth Vader, the Jedi, Boba Fett, and AT-AT Walkers. Todd has published a non-fiction book, holds a Ph.D. in history, and enjoys hiking, running, and reading about science.