Luke Cage is written to be the perfect street-level hero. As a mixture of enforcer and private investigator, his position in Harlem makes Cage a hero with the greatest connection to his neighbors, even compared to Daredevil over in Hell’s Kitchen.
Being bulletproof, Luke Cage is as effective as a symbol as Batman because of his power’s simplicity and intimidation effect, but the specifics of Cage’s abilities get a little bit more complicated upon a closer look.
Luke got his powers from a prison experiment gone wrong. Before he was a hero for hire, he was a police officer, working cases against Harlem’s organized criminal elements. He puts on a pretty tough front, and as experiments go, it could have ended up way worse, but it’s not always easy being the tough guy hero, expected to take punch after punch all the time.
Comics are never as simple as someone just being really strong and invulnerable. That’s a great place to start, but the real key to why fans love Luke Cage isn’t his powers, but the way he chooses to use them.
However, those choices are dependent on all the details and the specifics of what his powers can do. These involve chemicals, genetics, and metaphysical biology that scientists are still studying -- when they’re not being shaken down by evil stakeholders.
Fortunately Luke Cage tries to be low maintenance. He’s a strong and he’s almost indestructible. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Not so much.
Here are the 20 Weirdest Things About Luke Cage’s Body.
20 He’s vulnerable to Adamantium
Despite Luke Cage’s genetically enhanced skin, his advantages only hold up against conventional weapons. Adamantium is one of several substances he’s vulnerable to.
Thankfully, Cage has never had to square off against a Wolverine or an Adamantium weapon, but the danger is definitely there.
Wolverine has been shown to pierce the Hulk’s skin in the past, so Luke Cage is at a disadvantage he’s not used to in that battle. Just because claws can pierce his skin doesn’t mean Power Man is out of the fight entirely, but it’s a substance he’s got to keep an eye out for - just in case a clever villain starts making custom weapons plated in the rarest Marvel metals.
19 His Powers Came From A Faulty Super Serum
Luke Cage’s origins begin as an unwilling volunteer for a medical experiment while serving time in Seagate Prison. Dr. Noah Burstein selected Cage among other prisoners for his tests because he observed high levels of aggression. At least in Cage’s case, this was probably because he had been framed.
Burstein is a B-level government scientist who had some success in duplicating the results of the Super Serum formula, which created Captain America, but he could never make his compound stable enough.
Luke Cage was the unlucky recipient of one of the huge transformation machine’s misfires. The process didn’t turn him into Captain America, but it amped up his strength and resilience, and multiplied all of the anger and frustration he’d been sitting on.
18 He Can Withstand Iron Man’s Repulsor Beams
Luke Cage can go toe to toe with Iron Man, even if he's lacking in armor. Early in the original Power Man run, #17, he squares off against Tony Stark when he unwittingly breaks into Stark Industries for another client.
The battle between the two is beautifully matched in strength and build.
Especially with the older Iron Man suit, Luke Cage is more than a match for Stark’s palm mounted repulsor blast.
He even lands a punch on Iron Man’s chest plate, damaging the armor and effectively ending the brawl. If only we could see such a battle in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
17 He Technically Has A Healing Factor
Along with his off-brand Super Soldier cocktail of strength and durability, Luke's also got a healing factor at work somewhere in his biology. It’s related to the same biological process that aids the health and longevity of the likes of Captain America and Wolverine, but it’s not likely to be as fast acting or as strong since his transformation process was abandoned part way through.
Nevertheless, his ability to recover is greatly accelerated with this power. It’s not great being a superhero if you have to rest up for a month after every fight.
Marvel databases have logged his recovery rate as three times that of a normal human -- a far cry from feeling no pain. He’s just tough like that.
16 His Skin Has Titanium-Level Durability
The most common analogy used to describe Luke Cage’s skin is as strong as steel, but the real durability is closer to that of titanium.
He’s been recorded numerous times taking bullets at pretty much point blank range. They all bounce right off of him. The same goes for knives, spears and crossbows, they’ll just glance off to the side.
Also within his wheelhouse are a great number of explosive forces. He’s been on the bottom of demolished buildings, on the wrong side of a timed grenade, and targeted by rocket launchers. All of these blasts leave him irked, but without diminished fighting capacity. His skin, muscles, bones, and organs are so dense that a laser has to be used for surgery.
15 His Skin Can Be Punctured By Vibranium
Vibranium is the most desirable of the Marvel metals and due to its unique properties, it is likely capable of piercing Luke Cage’s skin. Prior to open communication with Wakanda, Vibranium was thought to be a metal only found on extraterrestrial technology. Due to this mysterious supply line, the substance is very rare and very expensive.
Many fans suspect that a Vibranium alloy is at the heart of the Judas Bullet, Cage’s kryptonite on the TV series.
Much of the chemistry behind this strange metal relies on kinetic energy. I’s not necessarily the hardest or strongest metal in the universe, but it does resonate the most effectively.
This is why it’s great for shields and armor, since it distributes a shock.
14 He Was Almost Played By Laurence Fishburne and Wesley Snipes
The closest Power Man has ever come to his own film was in the early nineties, when his story raised the eyebrow of director Quentin Tarantino. The marriage of Marvel and Blaxploitation got the director interested in putting Luke Cage on the big screen, and some development conversations were even floated before he started Pulp Fiction.
Fishburne and Snipes were both mentioned for the role of Cage, but Tarantino has commented that beyond the face on the poster, the studio wasn’t really interested.
In those early days of the superhero film, there wasn’t much of an established concept for what kind of film Tarantino was envisioning, and to be fair, it’s still not very clear.
13 His Strength Has Grown Since His First Transformation
Over his comic book history, Luke has tried and succeeded several times to increase his power in order to heal or fight some new, dangerous villain. It’s kind of like a superpower inflation. The prices of the comic books go up over the decades, so it’s fair that readers are getting more powers packed into those pages.
The biggest jump came when he repeated the same process that first changed him. That was the Super Soldier serum knock-off created by Dr. Burstein. In the Netflix series, they show him undergoing this process a second time to save his life. It also has the effect of multiplying his strength by a few degrees.
He also continues to work out and exercise via conventional means. He’s been recorded lifting 25 tons.
12 He’s Vulnerable To Head Trauma
Luke Cage’s head is another point of vulnerability. Since he doesn’t operate with a helmet like fellow strongman Juggernaut, his head is perhaps his biggest weakness, both from a traumatic and psychological perspective.
Concussions are the biggest concern for someone in Cage’s line of work.
He’s shown symptoms of mild to severe concussion at the hands of Jessica Jones’ shotgun, a massive blow from Bushmaster, and numerable explosions just here and there on the show.
Between the ears, Cage seems almost as solid as he does on the outside, but beneath that calm act, the hero’s got to make sure to take care of his brain as well as his braun.
11 Radiation Could Be An Issue
While he’s capable of withstanding hundreds of tons of TNT, Luke Cage doesn’t really mess with nuclear blasts. He’s never been called on to contain a bomb that big, and his power set does almost nothing to protect him from radiation.
His healing factor provides a light shield, but that power is based on cellular regeneration. It’s possible that radiation poisoning could infect his cells and then be spread at an accelerated rate due to his body trying, unsuccessfully, to heal itself.
In fact, during one comic event, Age of Ultron, Luke succumbs to radiation poisoning due to a bomb dropped by the titular villain. So it can happen, but of course it’s not going to dissuade him from running to help someone.
10 His Strength Is Accompanied By The Necessary Stamina
Another thing sets Luke Cage apart from other super strong heroes is his incredible stamina. This likely has some relation to his healing factor. Fellow Marvel her Molly Hayes, for example, has the power of great strength, but not the accompanying ability of her muscles to heal themselves.
These layered enhancements are thanks to the Borstein Process, the initial goal of Luke Cage’s transformation. Despite the experiment going awry, Cage has always been able to regulate his body pretty well. He’s got limits, but he’s able to test them.
In fact, his stamina may even expand past muscular regeneration.
A lot of heroes with super strength will have an achilles heel either physically or emotionally. Compared to the Hulk, the Thing, or Drax, Luke Cage stands as a pretty gentle giant.
9 He Doesn’t Seem To Eat That Much More Than Normal
If there’s a scene with a meal, Luke Cage can definitely put it away, but his increased metabolism and caloric intake aren’t mentioned often enough. This may be an advantage of his genetic modification. Captain America had a roughly similar process and he doesn’t often retreat to a stash of custom engineered energy bars.
Finding the nutritional balance to execute the diet of a superhero is something hardly ever covered in these stories. Maybe it’s not worth taking up even a paragraph to talk about, but given the amount of physical activity, injury, and recovery, on as little sleep as they get, their diet has to be the answer. But then they’d have to find time to cook.
Luke Cage must count himself lucky that he has a metabolism of steel.
8 He Can Run Pretty Fast
Luke Cage’s superior speed has to be mentioned on this list as well. Especially for fans of the artist Sanford Greene’s take on the character, it may not seem that Luke Cage is that fleet of foot, but per his original design, Cage is a balanced athlete, not just a pair of fists.
He proved earlier that he can be as agile as Iron Man, but he also does pretty well in a flat-out foot race.
On season two of the Netflix show, while running through a training montage in a New York Jets practice facility, Cage runs a 40 meter dash in 3.72 seconds, better than a world record. On some databases, he’s also listed as reaching top speeds of a “Sweet Christmas”-worthy 40mph.
7 He’s Not Immune to Poison
Well, he’s not totally immune to poison. His internal organs are subject to the same healing factor as the rest of his body, so there is a safeguard in place, but substances that attack his nervous system would still probably be effective, along with any hallucinogens.
It’s also probable that the delivery method has a lot to do with it. The healing factor occurs after some elapsed time, so the most direct administration will yield the most effective dosing.
With the debut of the new villain Bushmaster and his use of nightshade, along with Black Mariah’s daughter, also a pharmacological villain, Luke Cage’s system could be put to the test by something likely herbal, superstitious, and unpredictable.
6 His Skin Can Be Too Tough
This was brought to life most recently for Harlem’s Hero for Hire on his Netflix series, when he took a Judas bullet that left shrapnel behind.
Night Nurse-in-training Claire Temple was on hand to come up with a creative solution involving temperature variation and magnets, but otherwise it would have taken an adamantium scalpel.
The only other device known to break through Cage’s skin, merely based on theoretical medical contingency, is a surgical laser.
It would likely have to be spectrum adapted for Cage’s genome, but there’s bound to be a scientist somewhere in the Marvel universe who could do the job.
5 He Weighs 425 Pounds
Give Mike Colter some credit once more for bringing to life this super-sized hero. The Marvel database lists Luke Cage as six feet, six inches, and 425 pounds.
First of all, the muscle density on this guy is incredible. By point of comparison, Lebron James, who plays basketball and uses his body for a different set of skills, but is still an elite athlete, comes in at 6’ 8” and weighs only 250 lbs.
Colter deserves credit, we’ll reiterate, because not one person batted an eye when he took the role. He’s instantly been convincing and his performance is easily one of the highlights of the series. Getting the right lead is essential for pulling off the live-action superhero trick.
4 His Daughter Has Powers Too
Their relationship was only raised for an instant on their Netflix shows, but in the comics, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage have slightly more drawn-out union.
On the page, their one-night stand leads to Jessica’s pregnancy, and the two eventually have a daughter named Danielle. Danielle Cage was brought into canon in the mid 2000s, so in the main universe, she’s still getting into adventures as a little kid.
In an alternate reality, she goes onto become Captain America.
Since both Jessica Jones and Luke Cage got their powers from scientific experiments it’s a little suspicious how they were able to pass those traits onto their daughter, but apparently their genetic code was modified that greatly.
3 He Trains With Iron Fist
Season two of Luke Cage finally paired up the Heroes for Hire and Power Man worked with Iron Fist to great effect. The arc shows Danny teaching Luke some meditation tricks, but that’s not the only wisdom that the Iron Fist passes onto Cage. While Luke hasn’t achieved anywhere near the level of mastery that Danny has, he does study some martial arts and train with Danny on occasion.
Cage is mostly known for his brute force and knock out punches, but he’s got an agile side as well, and studying new fighting styles keeps him in even better shape.
Plus, this sets up a hilarious opportunity in season three for Luke Cage failing, endearingly, to teach a class at Colleen Wing’s dojo.
2 He’s Got a Bulletproof Jacket Somewhere
The clothing Luke Cage wears into battle routinely gets shot up with bullet holes because henchmen just never learn. Even though they make great souvenirs, it all piles onto the hero’s overhead costs, making the price of a good deed much too steep.
How do the Hulk’s pants stay on? How do the Fantastic Four’s suits do all of the things they do also? Where are these advanced fabrics?
Luke Cage must have an Edna Mode of his own, because he was granted a bulletproof jacket to help him with costume malfunctions.
Readers don’t see him wear it often, though. He must prefer yellow.
1 He Can Tear Through Spider-Man’s Webs
As we've established, Luke Cage has a deceptively well-rounded powerset that continues to impress, despite seeming pretty straightforward.
One more thing Cage can do that people may not know is go toe-to-toe with Spider-Man. He and Luke Cage have only fought on a handful of occasions, but it’s always ended in a draw, with both heroes sparring well against each other. Cage has been known to land a few blows despite Spider-Man’s increased agility.
The wallcrawler has to be careful too; depending on how securely he webs up Luke, Power Man is capable of breaking through it.
What are some other weird details about Luke Cage's body? Let us know in the comments!