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The 10 best movie capes of 2017

Contributed by
Dec 19, 2017

Y'all done reading about capes yet? No? Good. Because along with the usual spate of year-end lists, SYFY Fangrrls brings you one you're not likely to find anywhere else: best capes. No one appreciates capes like we do. It's a failing on the part of everyone else. There were some goodies this year. Your Star Warses and your Ragnaroks, yes, but also some more off-the-beaten-path suspects. 

A caveat: I didn't include any capes that made their debut pre-2017, which explains the lack of Captain Phasma. Know that we appreciate her cape above all things.

Robin, The Lego Batman Movie

The lowest cape on this top ten list is also the smallest: the little scrap of canary yellow worn by minifig Robin in Chris McKay's The LEGO Batman Movie. You can't do gymkata without a cape. It is known. Kudos to the animators for getting the scratchy, sparkly fabric down--looking at this cape, I can almost feel it between my fingers. It's the second most accurate thing in LEGO Batman, after its depiction of Batman's myriad psychological issues.

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Hippolyta, Wonder Woman

The outfits rocked by the Amazons in Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman were pretty freaking awesome, and Hippolyta's cape is no exception. It's pretty standard, as capes go--a long expanse of brown fabric with a fur collar. Its lack of ~*~craziness~*~ keeps it from being further up on this list: as you know, I do love the sartorial drama. But the cape is actually perfect for Hippolyta. No muss, no fuss, no nonsense. It, like the rest of the Amazons' garb, feels practical and lived in, like Hippolyta's actually gone to battle in it many times before. 

Belle, Beauty and the Beast

There's no fashion beat in Bill Condon's live-action Beauty and the Beast remake that can quite top pre-curse Beast's eyeshadow--the best, most over-the-top look for all your holiday parties/acid trips--but the cape/dress combo Belle wears during "Something There" is pretty cool, in an "I would actually wear a variation of this" sort of way. In the animated version, this cape was trimmed with fur, which wouldn't fly given star Emma Watson's tendency towards sustainable vegan fashion. This time around, the cape "was made from upcycled, traditionally woven British Jacob’s wool from around 1970, bought at a vintage fair. The fabric was overdyed using natural dyes, and the lining was made from paperlike Tussah silk."

Dante in Dante's Lunch (Coco)

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is the Disney short everyone talked about this year—mostly about how much they hated it—but let’s not leave Dante’s Lunch in the dust. Directed by Lee Unkrich as a quasi-promo for his Day of the Dead-themed adventure Coco, Dante’s Lunch A) is less than two minutes long, B) features the low-key best character from Coco, Dante the doofy dog, and C) has a dog dressed as a luchador. The fact that “dog in a cape” wasn’t enough to get Dante’s Lunch to the top of this list only speaks to how many great capes 2017 gave us.

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Sabato Kuroi, Blade of the Immortal

A quick question for those who haven't seen Takashi Miike's Blade of the Immortal, about an immortal ex-samurai (Takuya Kimura) who joins forces with a young girl (Hana Sugisaki) to avenge the death of her family: What is it that you think is underneath the massive cape shoulderpads sported by this particular vision?

Do you think it's heads? 

'Cause yeah.

It's heads.

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Valkyrie's half-cape, Thor: Ragnarok

Valkyrie actually wears two capes in Thor: Ragnarok: one, a half-cape that she dons early on, then a full cape later in the film when she's accepted her role as a kick-ass hero of old. Both are great, but I find myself biased in favor of the former. One-shoulder capes need to make a comeback, maintaining as they do a sense of capely drama while not giving up entirely on practicality. A one-shoulder cape says "I'm here to look awesome, but I could still kick your ass if I really needed to."

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Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The first Star Wars cape on this list belongs to Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, aka Space Laura Dern. Before you ask, no, the capes worn by Rey and Luke won't be on this list because Jedi have never had any damn clue how to dress. No wonder Obi-Wan liked to strip off that top layer so often--it's all burlap sacks! The Dark Side has always had a better sense of fashion. Ditto Space Laura Dern, who takes an understated approach to capery with delicately draped fabric cascading partway down the back of her her signature purplish dress. (You can see it better here.) It's unusual, classy and still rad as hell.

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Hela, Thor: Ragnarok

Now, I know what you're thinking here. "Cape Blanchett? Number three?" And to that I say, firstly: congratulations on calling Hela's cape in Thor: Ragnarok "Cape Blanchett." That's a fine bit of wordplay and I commend you for it. Secondly, Cape Blanchett may have the color and the slink going for it, but at the end of the day it's still a cold-shoulder cape, which is A) stupid, B) stupid, and C) stupid. Unless you have a collarbone fetish, which is fine. But the cold shoulder trend still needs to die. Though Cate Blanchett could wear the hell out of anything, up to an including a burlap sack, the point remains that a cape unworthy of the top position cannot coast there on her (bare) shoulders alone.

But the top two capes had better be pretty damn fresh...

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The Phoenix, Once Upon a Time

And what's more fresh than mounds and mounds of feathers and tulle?

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This cape is worn by actor Jin Luo, who plays a Phoenix god in Chinese romantic fantasy epic Once Upon a Time (2017). Fun fact: Its star, Liu Yifei, was tapped by Disney to be their live-action Mulan. Funner fact: this movie has some bonkers-ass capes. The one seen above is the antithesis of Holdo's in The Last Jedi. Hers was understated. Serene. Proof that capes don't have to be so over-the-top all the time. The Once Upon a Time cape, on the other hand, is made of every bit of tulle the costume designer could scrape up on the Eastern hemisphere. And there's a flame pattern along the bottom, because sometimes you need to crank it up to 11.

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Leia, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

With capes, we tend to think of a giant trapezoid of fabric fastened around someone's neck. But that's not always the case, as we've seen on this list. There are one-shoulder capes. There are cape dresses. And there are cape coats, two particularly lovely example of which are sported by the GOAT Carrie Fisher in The Last Jedi. (You can see a good shot of the other in Vanity Fair's Star Wars photoshoot.)

Is Leia at the top of the list because of my undying #bias towards Carrie? Maaaaaybe. But they're also amazing pieces of clothing. Original and eye-catching without being too fussy. Regal.  Futuristic, but you can totally see someone wearing something like it today. The way the silhouettes and color palette echo the fashion of Alderaan, as seen in the wardrobe of Leia's late foster father Bail Organa... well, that's just a detail. A sob-inducing detail.

Plus, you know those capes have pockets. Carrie wouldn't have it any other way.