The Cloak of Levitation, Part 1: An overview

When Dr. Strange visits the New York Sanctum for the first time, he passes by a vitrine in which a lush red cape hovers in midair. It’s the Cloak of Levitation, and in this moment it chooses Strange. We see many of its functions throughout the movie.

Functions

  • When the glass of the vitrine is broken and Kaecilius stabs at Strange with a Soul Sword, the Cloak reaches out with a corner and stays Kaecilius’ hand to save Strange.
  • When Kaecilius knocks Strange down a stairwell, the Cloak chases him, catches him, and floats him back up to the fight. (See above.)
  • Attached by two fibulae to his surcoat, it can pull him, physically, and does so several times for different reasons:
    • to get him out of the first fight with Kaecilius
    • to help him dodge the soul sword
    • to keep him from grabbing ineffective weapons, pointing him instead to the more effective Crimson Bands of Cyttorak
  • Unbidden, the Cloak wraps itself around the head of one of Kaecilius’ zealots, drags him around, and slams his head into the walls and floor until the zealot is dead. (Even though, for the entire end of the fight, Strange is across town getting medical attention.) After the combat, the Cloak hovers next to the dead zealot, perhaps keeping watch.
  • After Strange tells Christine goodbye in the surgical prep room, the Cloak gently floats itself into place and uses the corner of its popped collar to remove blood from Strange’s face, to his annoyance. He tells it to, “Stop!” and it relaxes.
  • It pulls him out of the path of some flying debris while time is reversed before the Hong Kong Sanctum, and defends him from a punch later in the same sequence.
  • He uses it to fly through the portal into the Dark Dimension to face Dormammu.
  • It dons itself in the Kamar-Taj, brusquely enough to cause Strange to catch his balance.

The Cloak is like a guardian angel. Or maybe a super-familiar, in the wizard sense. It keeps an eye out for Strange. It is able to predict, protect, crudely inform, and, not least, fly. It acts as both an assistant and an agent. (More on this later)

Wearable Analysis

Let’s first look at it as a wearable. Turns out it fares well according to the wearable principles I laid out in the The Combadge & ideal Wearables post. Those principles are discussed individually below.

Sartorial? Yes.

The Cloak is literally a piece of clothing and quite inline with fashion trends of the sorcerous and superhero worlds. A dash of panache for the workday and a night flying above the town. I’m saying it looks quite in place for being a piece of tech.

Social? Yes, kind of.

The cape does not signal its cape-abilities (how many terrible puns will I allow myself, here? Time will tell…) and so might score low on its social aspect. But it is a unique mystical item. Those in the know, know. Its reputation conveys its abilities. To those who don’t know, its cape-ness grants an initial element of surprise, as we saw when it blocked Kaecilius’ stab the first and second time. The villain was as surprised as we. The Cloak is cloaked, but this is a feature.

Tough to accidentally activate? Yes.

To fly to the Dark Dimension, he places his hands in a “Devil sign,” with 1st and 4th fingers extended and the others bent down to the thumb. He points his hands towards his feet, and flies off in the opposite direction. This isn’t him casting a spell. It’s him telling the Cloak what he wants it to do. That’s hard to do by accident.

Apposite I/O? Yes.

For the most part, the Cloak acts of its own accord. Looking at the list above, the only times it acts under instruction is when Strange tells it to stop wiping his cheek and when he uses it to fly to the Dark Dimension. He uses speech for the former and finger-tutting for the latter.

The rest of its functionality (that is, most of it) is it acting on its own, which doesn’t befit an i/o mapping evaluation.

Easy to access and use? Yes, exceptionally.

Being a key part of Strange’s uniform, and able to both get out of the way and onto shoulders when it needs to, the Cloak is not just easy to use, but it makes itself easy to access and use, so it scores high here.

In total, a very usable and useful wearable tech. Next let’s look at how we might get to a Cloak-like object using real world technology.

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  1. Pingback: The Cloak of Levitation, Part 4: Improvements | Sci-fi interfaces

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