New Superhero Swoops Into Primetime: The Cape

“It goes back to the Grecians, the mythology of this. We’ve seen it in so many forms. … There is something incredibly visceral about the concept.”

Australian actor David Lyons is thoughtful in our discussion of the idea of a hero who takes a stand against all that he believes is wrong, and why that type of character is so appealing to readers and viewers. As Lyons says, this idea has appeared in many forms throughout the history of human storytelling, but it is perhaps most prevalent and dramatic in comic-book form, appearing in characters such as Batman and The Punisher.

And now Lyons gets to play this sort of character in The Cape, starring as Vince Faraday, the one honest cop on a corrupt force in the almost completely corrupt fictional town of Palm City. Vince is framed for a series of murders committed by billionaire Peter Fleming (James Frain) who moonlights as a killer named Chess. Left for dead, Vince is found and taken in by a mysterious group of circus performers, led by Max Milani (the excellent Keith David), who also happen to rob banks. To restore his name, get back his wife and son, and take down Fleming, Vince decides to become The Cape — his son’s favorite comic-book character. He trains with the circus group — who call themselves the Carnival of Crime — to master fighting and other skills. And to master the cape that he wears as a crime-fighter, which has certain properties that allow it to be wielded as a weapon.

“What strikes me at the core of this individual is the concept of right,” says Lyons. “He’s been wronged as an individual, but he’s starting to become a bastion for a better society. So those wrongs that he feels so viscerally start to become broader than just that which hurt him and his family.

“It’s an interesting genesis of a superhero. When he starts out he’s a man on a mission, and he chooses this particular character to achieve his mission. But as we go through this journey with him we start to see how this affects not only him but the society around him, and the people who are working with him, like [investigative blogger] Orwell [played by Summer Glau], who really wants him to be the symbol of a new dawn in Palm City, to bring down the criminal establishment and start anew.”

Vince does not have superpowers, but relies on his police and military training — in addition to the skills in arts such as illusion that he learns from the Carnival gang — with whom he may also find himself in conflict.

“Everyone’s got their own motives; everyone’s got two faces,” Lyons says of the characters. “Mine is a little more easily identifiable, because one is The Cape and one is Vince Faraday. But each of these people have a certain set of motives, and Vince has still got the cop in him, and the military guy, the guy that wants to do right by society. Max has a vested interest in the character The Cape and also has his ulterior motives — which is to make money, to create chaos. … ‘Carnival of Crime’ is not a misnomer.”

Co-executive producing and writing The Cape is Tom Wheeler, who also worked on a more fantastic level of comic-book-type characters in Heroes.

“The great thing about Tom Wheeler’s writing,” says Lyons, “is that he’s really concentrating on the struggle that all these people have beneath the masks they’re wearing. So there’s something to really cling on to as an actor and as an audience.”

From the clips of The Cape that we’ve seen, we’re already clinging to the action and the characters, and look forward to more.

“The Cape” begins with a two-hour series premiere Sunday, Jan. 9, with an encore Jan. 10. The series begins its regular day and time Jan. 17. It airs on NBC.