Walk Like You’re Wearing Darth Vader’s Cape

06Sep13

That’s a mantra of mine.

We all need mantras, which is to say “I need mantras.” To get through our day, little helpful phrases remind us of who we are and who we can be and keep us going when we want to bail out.

Why Vader? Why not Batman? For the very specific reason in that they walk very differently. Batman uses his cape as a disguise, a shield and camoflague. He slinks around when he’s not running at some thug’s face.

Vader, on the other hand, OWNS that mother. He doesn’t even need it (in fact, I’ll always remember a friend’s comments on “Revenge of the Sith” and the transformation scene, which went somethign like,”They gave Anakin robot arms for his missing leg, robot arms for his missing arms, a breathing helmet to keep him alive… and a bad-ass cape.”).

But he totally DOES need it in a James Brown kind of way. It gives him aesthetic power. NOBODY else in the “Star Wars” universe wears a cape. Because they can’t pull it off. And look at the way he works that thing. It perfectly compliments his movements. Vader doesn’t stroll around. He walks with purpose. He is direct. He is a man who knows what he wants, and he has the cape to
prove it.

Imagining Vader’s cape on your shoulders, you feel taller. Vader’s tall (his was the second tallest original action figure, next to Chewbacca). He commands armies. He flies space ships. I don’t want to get into glorifying the slaying of mentors or attacking your sons, but
you get the point.

A case could be made for “Walking like you’re wearing the Michael Keaton Batman’s cape,” but that’s getting ridiculously specific.

…which I will do right now.

Keaton had a very Vader-like walk in those movies. He stalked. He rarely ran. I don’t think he physically COULD run in that suit. In fact, I remember an interview he gave on “Late Night with David Letterman” for the upcoming “Batman Returns,” where he and Letterman talked about his Batman Walk. Keaton got up and demonstrated the big, purposeful strides he had to do to make the look work, then demonstrated a kind of goofy ramble that wouldn’t work. This prompted
Letterman to say, “Well, yeah, you’re not just some guy. You’re Batman. You’re not some jerk here to look at the pipes — YOU’RE BATMAN!”

But for my money, the Batman cape is more about flapping around than the Vader/Keaton capes. This ties to my childhood, where I would tie my cape around my neck and try to do any manner of sprints and jumps to try and get my cape to fly up. I’d always ask my mom, “Did you see it fly up? How was it?” This ties very much to the Adam West/Burt Ward style cape, and even to the Val Kilmer cape. Those capes imply a gliding flow, speed and grace. You whip around, run or jog everywhere and stay light on your feet.

The best mantra I can come up with for that is, “Play basketball like you’re wearing Burt Ward’s cape.”

Additionally, when I did improv shows, I always told myself to “Enter the stage like you are Mick Jagger at the MTV Music Awards, acceptingthe Lifetime Achievement Award.” That means shoulders back, chin up, smiling and present. This was only for entering at the beginning of
the show, to take the suggestion. I didn’t enter every scene in this way.

Not every scene.

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One Response to “Walk Like You’re Wearing Darth Vader’s Cape”

  1. This was helpful. I just moved to town and am dealing with the high case jitters, and the Cape is a good idea. If you see a man walking around town with an actual cape on, you’ll know it’s me and that you influenced a grateful person. But seriously, Michael Keaton was my childhood batman actor and basically I think “Batman” I think “Michael Keaton”, which is I’m sure what he would want


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