Luke Cage is one of Marvel’s hottest properties right now. The hugely popular Netflix series helped to crash the online service due to a sudden surge in users looking to catch a glimpse of the streaming service's latest Defender. He’s also seen a massive boost in popularity in the comic books since Brian Michael Bendis added him to the roster of The Avengers when he launched the New Avengers title back in 2005. The outsider suddenly began rubbing shoulders with the likes of heavyweight like Captain America, Iron Man, and Wolverine. Soon after, the indestructible “Hero for Hire” became a family man. And eventually, he even became the leader of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
He’s often famed for his indestructible skin, super strength, and a variety of other abilities. But Cage is far from the toughest or most durable superhero. There are plenty of heroes out there that can withstand blasts from gods and monsters that would probably kill the hero formerly known as Power Man. But, like many heroes, that’s what makes him great. If his power was such that he could win any battle, he wouldn’t be so interesting. It’s his bravery in taking on tougher opponents that make him who he is.
Here’s 15 Marvel Superheroes Tougher/More Durable Than Luke Cage
15 The Thing
Ben Grimm was one of Reed Richards’ closest friends and the man chosen to pilot Reed’s experimental ship into space. Due to a miscalculation, the ship wasn’t adequately protected from the cosmic radiation that gave the Fantastic Four their powers, and Ben was turned into a massive rock-like monster. While his appearance made him an outcast, he retained his intelligence and skills, and even managed to find love with sculptress Alicia Masters.
Not only is his rock hard shell nearly impervious to harm, even more so than Cage, he also has superhuman strength that makes him capable of tossing trucks like a normal person tosses a football. His new form has allowed him to withstand cannonballs, mortar rounds, and even blows from The Hulk. He has taken on the biggest and baddest foes that the Marvel Universe has to offer, and he rarely takes a clobbering he can’t walk away from.
14 Emma Frost
For many years, Emma Frost’s powers were purely telepathic. During Grant Morrison’s infamous run on X-Men, she found herself in a skyscraper in Genosha that was destroyed by a wild sentinel attack. Found among the wreckage, she had transformed into a diamond-like form, revealing that she had a secondary mutation that was triggered by the attack.
Quickly learning to control her newfound powers at will, Emma soon became a major physical force within the X-Men. Her form is as hard as a diamond, and is therefore very hard to damage. Bullets, even high caliber ones, cause little to no harm. Even energy-based weapons or blows from incredibly powerful super-humans do little to stop her. Even when she was seemingly destroyed, The Beast meticulously put her body back together piece by piece and she was resurrected. In no time at all, she was back to her Prada-wearing, smart-talking best.
While Emma Frost isn’t as superhumanly strong as Luke Cage, she could certainly withstand his most powerful attacks.
When the quiet and shy Jennifer Walters was wounded and need a blood transfusion, the only compatible donor was her cousin Bruce Banner, The Incredible Hulk. His gamma-irradiated blood transformed the mild-mannered lawyer into an Amazonian engine of destruction, complete with a far more confident persona to accompany her new form. Both as a solo agent and as a member of teams such as The Fantastic Four and The Avengers, She-Hulk became one of the Marvel Universe’s toughest heroes.
While not quite as strong or durable as her cousin, She-Hulk can bench press in excess of 70 tons and has shrugged off high caliber rounds with ease. She also has a healing factor that allows her to bounce back from attacks from even the most fearsome of foes.
While She-Hulk has yet to reach her full potential, her recent near-death experience at the hands of Thanos and learning of her cousin’s death have led to a larger and more powerful form. It’s possible that this new rage-fueled transformation may be a match for the most powerful entities in Marvel’s history, far surpassing a certain Hero for Hire.
Born in the 1800s, the boy that would become known as both Logan and Wolverine was born James Howlett, heir to a wealthy estate in Canada. His mutation emerged when he was still very young, and he fled with his companion, a young woman named Rose. After Rose died, young James took to living a semi-feral existence, though he did re-join humanity from time to time, particularly when it came to times of conflict.
Eventually, he became the man known as Wolverine. His bones and claws coated with the indestructible metal known as Adamantium, coupled with his incredible healing factor and fighting skills, made him a lethal government assassin, and later, a famous superhero.
While Wolverine and Luke Cage have debated the outcome of unbreakable claws versus unbreakable skin, it’s a smackdown that hasn’t happened just yet. But given Wolverine’s track record against guys like The Hulk, he’s undoubtedly the tougher one of the two.
Unlike his cinematic counterpart, who is a very angry alien, the comic book version of Drax the Destroyer is far more powerful and a walking engine of destruction. Originally a human man called Arthur Douglas, he and his family were killed due to the actions of the Mad Titan Thanos. His spirit was placed inside a powerful body by the being known as Kronos who intended Drax to be the one being powerful enough to kill Thanos for good.
Initially, Drax could fly and fire energy blasts, but these powers have since been removed, as has a level of his strength and durability. He remains incredibly strong and is a highly skilled combatant, particularly in the use of knives. At one point, he gained possession of the Power Gem, which granted him strength levels comparable to (possibly even surpassing) those of The Hulk.
While his current form lacks the Hulk-like strength, he remains one of the most fearsome fighters in the galaxy, and Drax still regularly finds himself in showdowns with cosmic-level threats such as Thanos himself.
Gamora isn’t known as the “most dangerous woman in the galaxy” for nothing. Not only was she trained by her adoptive father, Thanos, to be a lethal combatant and expert assassin, but she was physically augmented as well. Her physiology is so enhanced that she can go toe to toe with even the most powerful beings in the galaxy. Her fighting skills are what really set her apart, though as she is an expert in the use of firearms, blunt instruments, and various bladed weapons from across the universe. As a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, she is feared across the cosmos.
It’s this skill level that puts her a notch above Luke Cage. While he may be more durable, she is much, much tougher. She once defeated an entire platoon of highly skilled and well-armed soldiers in a matter of minutes without breaking a sweat. She has also beaten men twice her size and strength by striking them in specific nerve clusters. While Luke Cage is a skilled street fighter, he lacks her training and killer instinct.
Angela is an Angel and an Asgardian -- and the long lost sister of Thor. Due to her divine heritage, she possesses a wide range of superhuman abilities such as god-like strength, speed, durability, and immortality.
First appearing in Image Comics as an adversary and later love interest of Spawn, she was pulled into the Marvel world due to the damage caused to the fabric of the universe by Wolverine. Initially confused by her circumstances, she confronted the Guardians of the Galaxy, and she even fought the aforementioned Gamora to a standstill. After adjusting to the new reality she found herself in, she joined the Guardians and fought beside them.
Her physical powers are vast, but like Gamora, it’s her fighting skills that make her a truly formidable opponent. She has defeated Thor in single combat and has conquered the realm of Hel by waging a campaign against Hela. Luke Cage is tough, but there’s no way he could conquer Hel.
Like Luke Cage, Colossus has superhuman strength and nearly unbreakable skin. The main difference between the pair is that Colossus has a human form, but can transform into a metal-skinned giant at will thanks to his natural mutation.
Born in Soviet-era Russia, Peter Rasputin was content to work on his father’s farm until he was recruited by Charles Xavier to be a member of the second generation of X-Men. Trained by both Xavier and Cyclops, Colossus quickly became one of the most valuable X-Men, often taking on foes much more experienced than him. His outer form is in stark contrast to his gentle nature, and in his spare time, he is an accomplished painter.
Colossus’ great physical strength and organic-steel form surpass Cage’s, but the fact that Colossus’ requires little to no sleep or sustenance while in his armored form makes him far more durable. His stamina is such that he just won’t stop, no matter the circumstances.
Namor McKenzie, the Mutant King of Atlantis, is one of Marvel’s strongest characters. Not only does his Atlantean heritage mean his body is capable of withstanding the enormous pressure at the bottom of the ocean, but his status as a mutant (presumably from his human father’s genes) means he surpasses the power levels of even the strongest members of his race.
Namor also has incredible longevity and is over 100 years old, but he still has the appearance of a man in his prime. He fought with Captain America in World War II, and is a highly trained and experienced fighter.
While Namor isn’t exactly bulletproof in the same sense as Luke Cage, his dense cell structure does mean that he can withstand extreme impacts from projectile weapons as well as blows from super-strong beings such as The Hulk or The Thing. He also has the added tactical advantages of flight and being able to breathe underwater, making him a triple threat. The ability to fight on land, in the air, and underwater make Namor one of the most versatile fighters in the Marvel Universe.
If you surround yourself with people of power for long enough, it’s only a matter of time before you become a vessel for power yourself. That’s an adage that’s certainly true in the case of Rick Jones. The perennial sidekick of The Hulk, and even Captain America and Captain Marvel at times, Jones eventually found himself transformed into the heavily-armored being, A-Bomb. Essentially a blue-skinned version of classic Hulk villain The Abomination, A-Bomb is a living weapon.
As A-Bomb, Rick’s durability is close to the level of the various Hulks. Even Red Hulk’s most powerful blows only caused him superficial damage when the two squared off. Rick later chose to remain in the A-Bomb form, subconsciously due to his desire to always be ready to help those in need.
While Rick has been robbed of his hyper-powerful form due to The Hulk’s Professor Green persona wanting to rid the world of gamma-enhanced individuals, Rick may yet return to this form in the future.
Ares is quite literally the Greek God of War. While he had previously been an adversary of The Avengers, Ares joined the team after being approached by Iron Man and Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) when The Avengers needed “A Thor” and “A Wolverine”. Ares met the criteria of both as an incredibly strong and lethal killer who was prepared to cross lines the more clean-cut team members wouldn’t dare to.
Able to withstand conventional firepower and high powered rounds from tanks with ease, there’s little that can harm Ares. During Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign, Ares joined the so-called Dark Avengers and found himself at odds with Luke Cage’s renegade New Avengers. Cage was totally outmatched by Ares, and knew not to dare to tangle with the Olympian.
While Ares is immortal, his body was destroyed in a battle with the Sentry (more on him in a bit). Even death wasn’t enough to stop him though, as he eventually found a way to battle through the afterlife and return to Earth once more.
The Asgardian god of Thunder, Thor has been an Avenger since the very beginning. He has fought the most powerful entities in the Marvel Universe, from The Hulk to Thanos. Thor possesses all the traits of a member of The Asgardian race, but at a much higher level due to the fact that he's the son of Odin himself. He is incredibly strong, at a level far in excess of Luke Cage, and he's also far more resistant to injury. He has taken hits from tank rounds without flinching that would have taken Cage clean off his feet at the very least.
Thor also carries his trusty hammer Mjolnir, and has access to its immense energy and magic manipulation powers. Not only can Mjolnir strike and penetrate the most powerful of objects, both physical and energy-based, but it also enables Thor to harness incredibly powerful lightning bolts.
While Luke Cage’s durability and strength are certainly impressive by mortal standards, he isn’t even close to Thor. Luke’s powers pretty much remain constant too, while Thor is able to enter a so-called “Warrior's Madness” where he becomes a berserker and is much stronger than normal -- though he loses control of his actions in this temporary state, leading him to attack both friend and foe in his rage.
3 Red Hulk
The Red Hulk has powers that are almost identical to those of The Hulk himself. He is superhumanly strong at a level only The Hulk can match, and is close to being utterly invulnerable. He can also augment his powers by draining the energy from both gamma-enhanced individuals such as Hulk and cosmic beings such as The Silver Surfer. Unlike the regular Hulk, who becomes stronger when enraged, Red Hulk becomes hotter. This is one of his only weaknesses, as he can grow weaker if he gets too hot due to his physiology having no cooling mechanism. His only other known weakness is Negative Zone Energy, which caused him intense pain.
While Luke Cage has shown himself capable of lifting a fully loaded truck above his head and carrying it several blocks, Red Hulk can prevent earthquakes by jumping between tectonic plates and preventing their movement by sheer force. Also, while Luke Cage has been seen to suffer extreme internal injuries if he is beaten with sufficient force, Red Hulk has yet to be beaten so soundly.
The Hulk has the potential for limitless physical strength. He has fought and defeated almost every major character in the Marvel Universe. One of his most impressive feats came when he carried the weight of an entire mountain on his back to prevent the deaths of The Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four during the original Secret Wars.
Hulk’s strength is such that he becomes more and more powerful when enraged. When he lost his wife and unborn child on the planet Sakaar, he headed to Earth angrier than ever. In this enraged form, he fought (and smashed) of Earth’s heroes, including Luke Cage, with little effort. The Hulk’s limitless strength makes him one of the most powerful fighters in the universe, and one of the few beings that Thanos actively avoids direct confrontation with.
His human alter-ego, Bruce Banner, has spent years trying to rid himself of the curse of The Hulk. And given the Green Goliath's tendency towards rage-fueled self-destruction, he is usually his own worst enemy.
With the power of a million exploding suns, The Sentry is a mortal who quite literally has the power of a god. He once went toe-to-toe with The Hulk at his most enraged and fought him to a total standstill. So far, he is the only mortal to do so. While Thor was able to kill The Sentry, who had fallen victim to his Void persona, this only occurred after The Sentry lowered his defenses and begged for death.
The Sentry has squared off against (and defeated) Owen Reece aka Molecule Man, who was later revealed to be the center of all power in the universe. His durability is utterly limitless, and theoretically, he could defeat beings such as Thanos, Galactus, and the elders of the universe. Whether or not he could challenge beings such as Eternity has yet to be explored, however.
While Luke Cage is certainly impressive, his strength and durability are nothing compared to The Sentry, who wouldn’t be bothered in the slightest by Cage’s most powerful blows.
What other Marvel superheroes are even tougher than Luke Cage? Sound off in the comments.