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Due to baby Kal-El's super powers, Earth clothes didn't last long on him. So, Martha Kent used Kryptonian blankets to make a costume for him. If you can see the second image of the attached answer, the baby costume also had a cape (not just the original Superman costume).

So, I can assume that it was either Jonathan Kent's or Martha Kent's idea. Why did Jonathan and Martha Kent (who weren't good at physics, I think) attach a cape to the costume? What was its purpose?

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In the first pictures, Supertoddler (sorry) was attacked by a bull, so that probably gave them the idea. –  Mr Lister Oct 24 '12 at 7:01
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Surely the answer is in the second image, Superboy states 'I had mom add a cape with a pouch...' –  AlasdairCM Oct 24 '12 at 8:22
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@AlasdairCM ... with a pouch, where I could stash my Clark Kent cloths ~> Not applicable on baby Kal-El as he started his dual identity ju-ju after starting Superboy career... –  Sachin Shekhar Oct 24 '12 at 11:13
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@SachinShekhar True. I'm inclined to think that they added a cape because it was cool... But that's a bit daft isn't it? –  AlasdairCM Oct 25 '12 at 9:35
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2 Answers 2

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Superman's costume (and those of the other Golden Age superheroes) were inspired by the circus performers of the day which sometimes included a cape. When Siegel and Shuster designed the costume the added the cape and the look became so iconic no-one ever removed it from the design but this you probably know.

Within the context of the story the reason Martha Kent added the cape was simply because it looked good when he flew. I don't have a concrete example of a time she did this in the comics but if you watch the pilot episode of Lois and Clark you'll see what I mean.

Before Crisis on Infinite Earths Superman's costume had been made out of indestructible baby blankets from Krypton (I assume there was a high infant mortality rate on their planet) which Martha was somehow able to cut and stitch with Earth instruments. But in the updated version of Superman's origin that followed it was revealed that Superman's body creates an "electromagnetic aura" about half an inch from the surface of his skin. Not only does this aura protect him but it also protects all clothing that falls within it and even prevents them from getting dirty, thus this became the new in continuity reason for why Superman wears tights but there was no reason he'd have a cape as it fell outside the aura and would get damaged easily and Superman needed Martha Kent to make large numbers of replacement capes. So the writers explained the reason he had a cape was because it had a pouch for his Clark Kent clothes, even though there was no protection and it would have probably been a better to leave them in a bag of some sort the way Peter Parker does. The cape with a pouch was actually an idea that itself had been introduced sometime in the 1950s.

In later years the origin was updated again and in the new version Martha had seen holograms of people from Krypton wearing capes and decided to make Clark a Kryptonian set of clothes as it was part of his heritage and for this she added the cape.

In the New 52 it turns out that Superman's costume is a Kryptonian ceremonial armour that Superman stole from Brainiac who himself stole it from Krypton possibly from Jor-El as he's seen wearing it. The suit adapts to whoever wears it and can change colour, before Superman wore it it was white with a circle on the chest and when he wore it and time travelled into the past of Krypton it changed to green with a planet logo on his chest. The suit can even shrink to just the logo so Superman can carry it around during the summer. But the cape was apparently a baby blanket or piece of cloth that Jor-El and Lara sent with baby Kal-El to Earth which Superman has a hard time parting with for some reason and even wore it with his early costume which was just a t-shirt and a pair of jeans! The cape is now like a security blanket which makes Superman like Linus from the Peanuts comics!

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Martha Kent wasn't able to cut the thread, she used Clark's heat-vision to cut it before she re-stitched it... –  Richard Jun 22 at 17:16
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Over the years, Superman has had many versions of his origins and his costume but almost all versions had Martha Kent involved in one way or another. I think in Secret Origin, Martha created the costume using red and blue blankets Kal-El was wrapped in when Martha and Jonathan found him. Jonathan also discovered that the blankets protected some baby items during fire whereas everything else was burnt. So they decided to keep the blankets and eventually make a costume using the blankets. Obviously Martha's design was inspired by Kryptonian style that she has seen. Overall, I would say it is for protection from fire and various hazardous substances such as the radiation in space, which Jor-El knew about because he was a scientist.

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I am asking about Cape... not why they used blanket to make costume. Another flaws: 1. Martha didn't know about Kryptonian style when Kal-El was baby. 2. Jor-El's costume didn't have Cape! –  Sachin Shekhar Oct 27 '12 at 2:31
    
I forgot to mention what it was the red blanket that shielded some baby items during fire and Jonathan told Martha about it. The red blanket became the cape to protect him from fire, radiation, etc. Clark was little and most definitely liked the idea of a cape (I liked to wear a cape when I was little). His baby costume does not look Kryptonian. I was referring to the superman costume and I did not say Jor-El's costume had a cape. –  glebovg Oct 27 '12 at 2:46
    
I did not say Jor-El's costume had a cape. ~> You said Obviously Martha's design was inspired by "Kryptonian style" that she has seen. –  Sachin Shekhar Oct 27 '12 at 2:58
    
I liked to wear a cape when I was little ~> Its because of Superman or similar Superheroes, I guess.. :) –  Sachin Shekhar Oct 27 '12 at 2:59
    
And, his blue part of costume is also fire-proof.. –  Sachin Shekhar Oct 27 '12 at 3:09
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