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Skin-Deep: 15 Hidden Truths About Luke Cage's Unbreakable Skin

Luke-Cage

Thanks to Netflix's amazing adaptation of the comic books, more and more fans are becoming familiar with one of Marvel's greatest street-level superheroes. Marvel's Luke Cage just released its second season on the streaming platform, and while it and its preceding season have delved deep into the nuances of the character, there's still a lot people don't know. The show wouldn't be as good as it is if it just hammered on episode after episode about the nature of the man's skin. Fortunately, there are decades of comic books we, at CBR, don't mind reading through to find out some amazing and interesting things about Power Man. Of his numerous superpowers, his most obvious is his impenetrable skin, but there's still a lot to be revealed about the super-strong Defender.

Luke Cage made his debut in 1972 with the publication of Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #1, written by Roy Thomas with pencils by John Romita & George Tuska. Since that time, the character has evolved from a silver headband, chain-waisted, yellow jacket-wearing street-level superhero to one of the most important characters in Marvel's roster. He's been a member of the Defenders, the Thunderbolts, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and Heroes for Hire, a group of his own making. If you're all caught up on the Netflix series and have read many of his comics, you may know a lot about the character, but how much do you know about his skin?

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15 HE ACQUIRED HIS POWERS THROUGH CHEMICAL EXPERIMENTATION

Luke-Cage-Origin

Luke Cage was sent to Seagate Prison off the coast of Georgia after a former friend planted heroine in his home. In the prison, he becomes enraged at the actions of his brother and the purported death of his father, which leads him to various escape attempts and brawls. Eventually, he volunteers for an experiment headed by Dr. Noah Burstein, who was testing a cellular regeneration formula on the inmates.

Burstein based his experiments on the Super-Soldier Serum and immerses him in a chemical compound energized by an electrical field. While Cage was immersed and unattended, a guard altered the controls, intending to kill him, which accelerated the experiment far beyond its limits. The result was a man whose strength and durability were enhanced to superhuman levels.

14 HE IS IMMUNE TO MOST CHEM/BIOWEAPONS

Luke Cage's skin isn't just a covering that keeps him safe from nearly any attack. There are other benefits from his genesis as a superhero that enable him to withstand nearly any chemical or biological attack. For biological agents, he has an accelerated healing factor helping him stave off the worst sorts of infection, but when it comes to chemical attacks, his powers work differently.

Luke Cage's powers were derived from an illegal chemical experiment. Because he was left stewing in the vat for longer than necessary after Billy Bob Rackham tampered with the experiment, his body reacts to chemicals differently than normal people. They don't affect him at all or there haven't been any that could cause him any troubles so far. Unlike most people, Chem/Bio weapons are not a threat.

13 HE CAN CREATE A CONCUSSIVE BLAST WITH HIS HANDS

If you're a fan of the Hulk, you probably know about his ability to clap his problems away. Hulk's thunderclap isn't the biggest tool in his arsenal, but it's effective. As it happens, Hulk isn't the only one who can cause some damage simply by clapping his hands together; Luke Cage's Thunder Clap is a rarely used attack similar to the Hulk's that can mess up his enemies.

Cage used this ability when he got into a scuffle with Victoria Hand in New Avengers #1. As he approached Avengers Mansion and was confronted by her with a large weapon, they got into a fight and Cage, not wanting to cause too much damage to an unpowered individual, clapped his hands together. The concussive blast blew Hand across the grounds, disarming her.

12 HE HAS AN ACCELERATED HEALING FACTOR

Luke-Cage-Bulletproof

Everyone knows about Wolverine's healing factor as it is one of his most impressive superhuman abilities. When it comes to characters like Luke Cage, you don't normally think about his ability to heal since he almost never gets hurt, but he has a healing factor similar to other characters in the Marvel Universe like Spider-Man and a few others.

His healing factor is sped-up so that he can heal from most injuries in only one third the time a normal person would need. This means that if he takes a Judas Bullet or some other potentially deadly threat, he can be up and about in only a few days or hours, while most people would need weeks to recover.

11 HIS SKIN'S DURABILITY SUPPORTS HIS MUSCLES AND SKELETON

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If you think about it, unbreakable skin is great, but getting impacted by a bullet still causes a lot of damage. Ask any cop or soldier and they will tell you. A bulletproof vest may stop a bullet from penetrating the skin, but it often breaks bones and can still rupture organs without going into the body. There's still a concussive force and a great deal of kinetic energy being dispersed, though, so for people like Luke Cage, their bones and tissue need to be strong as well.

Fortunately, the good people at Marvel figured this out and Luke Cage's skeletal structure, muscles and other organs are significantly more durable than yours or ours. He can withstand incredible pressure and shake off blows dealt by the likes of Iron Man. Without his skin's powers extending further inward, this would be impossible.

10 HIS SKIN SHOOK OFF IRON MAN'S REPULSORS

Power Man #17 Luke Cage vs Iron Man

Iron Man's repulsor weapons technology is some of the most impressive in the Marvel Universe. He uses it to propel him through the air and he can focus the beams into powerful blasts that thwart most enemies. When Luke Cage was hired to test security at Stark Industries, he ran into the yellow and gold Avenger who didn't appreciate his being there (it was all a set up by criminals).

Initially, the repulsor knocked Cage to the ground, but that was only because he didn't properly brace for the impact. In their second encounter in the pages of Luke Cage, Power Man #17, Cage shook off the blast and then flattened Iron Man with a right hook. Cage wasn't even knocked back an inch in the encounter.

9 HE HAS SUPERHUMAN SPEED AND AGILITY

Luke Cage Exercising

Luke's skin does more than deflect bullets, it also enhances his athletic abilities to superhuman levels. In an episode of the second season on the Netflix series, his athletic abilities are put to the test when Todd Bowles, the head coach of the New York Jets puts Cage through the ringer on the practice field.

Cage gets busy working out by flipping a 400 lb. tire and then chucking it a hundred or so feet into the air. That's a nice measurement of his strength (which we will get into shortly), but his running speed and broad jump are what's most impressive. He ran the 40-yard dash in 3.72 seconds making him "faster than Usain Bolt" and leapt 24 feet in the broad jump setting a new world record in the process.

8 HIS DURABILITY HELPS ENHANCE HIS STRENGTH

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Being able to take a bullet is one thing, but it hardly counts as an offensive power. Fortunately, Luke Cage's powers extend from his skin into his strength and he registers as a very powerful member of Marvel's street-hero roster. His strength is listed by Marvel as "Superhuman" level four, which means he can lift between 800 lbs. and 25 tons.

Initially, Cage could lift around five tons, but over the years, his strength has increased significantly. The current version of the character in the comics can lift as much as 25 to 50 tons and it pretty much depends on who is writing him. He can easily punch through four inches of solid steel and knock down just about anyone who gets in his way.

7 HIS POWERS WERE TRANSFERRED TO HIS JACKET

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If there's one thing the Bruce Banner knows, it's that he has to replace most of his clothing every time he gets angry. The problem with having superhuman powers is that they don't translate to your clothing and not everyone can afford unstable molecules like the Fantastic Four. Fortunately, for Luke Cage, he has his jacket.

After receiving his powers, he was again subjected to a "Power Man" treatment. This separate experiment transferred Cage's powers to the jacket he was wearing, which essentially means his jacket is indestructible. Granted, his pants didn't fare as well, but at least he can cover himself with something should most of his clothing be destroyed. The Netflix series hasn't embraced this "power" but it could in the future should they so choose.

6 HIS SKIN CAN WITHSTAND EXTREME TEMPERATURES

Luke-Cage-Fire

While shooting Luke Cage with a bullet won't cause much... or any damage, some evildoers have attempted to hurt him in other ways. Subjecting him to extreme temperatures ranging from superheat to debilitating cold won't do anything to him (other than ruin his clothing).

In the picture above, he was in a tractor trailer when it exploded in a blazing fireball. He simply walked out without a single scratch or singe to his skin. He is equally resistant to extremely cold temperatures and can survive in just about any environment. It's not a bad superpower to have should he ever need to rescue people from a burning building. Smoke inhalation doesn't cause him trouble either thanks to his resistance to chemical weapons.

5 HE CAN GO FOR A FULL DAY

Super skin comes with a lot of benefits including super strength and durability, but there are others you might not consider. The ability to endure physical activity tends to run its limit in most people when our energy runs out. This is due to a number of physiological issues, which  Luke Cage simply is immune to, allowing him to exert himself physically without rest for a full 24 hours.

That means he can completely exert himself without feeling any fatigue for a full day. Other characters similarly endowed include folks like Captain America and Spider-Man, which puts Cage into a higher class than most might consider. Nearly any super-powered person has to sit and take a rest should the action go on for a while, but that's not so for Cage. He has a full day's worth of energy to burn.

4 THE STRENGTH OF HIS SKIN HAS BEEN CALCULATED

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Because Science is a YouTube series hosted by Kyle Hill for Nerdist. The series delves into many pop culture interests and uses physics and other branches of science to determine exactly how fictitious items like the strength of Luke Cage's skin could work in the real world.

Hill's analysis of Cage's skin dives into the nature of human skin by examining all of the layers and how they interact with a projectile. He takes into consideration the velocity and mass of a bullet, how it makes contact with Cage's skin and what his skin-strength must be (2 billion newtons/square meter) or stronger. He places his skin at a strength level greater than spider-silk, diamonds and Kevlar. You can check out the episode here.

3 HIS SKIN CAN BE A DANGER IF HE IS WOUNDED

Luke Cage Netflix

If something is powerful enough to somehow wound Luke Cage, it presents a unique problem. How do you perform surgery on a guy when you cannot even break his skin with a scalpel? This question was put to the test in an episode from the Netflix series' first season when Cage was wounded by a Judas Bullet.

The bullets were developed by Hammer Industries using metal salvaged from "The Incident," the fancy name the televised MCU calls the Chitauri Invasion from The Avengers. While the surgery was difficult thanks to his skin, Claire was able to remove the bullet and its shrapnel, which was heating up his body. Had Claire not been around, he likely would have died.

2 HIS SKIN IS STRONGER THAN VIBRANIUM

Vibranium-MCU

Vibranium is the most durable natural metal found on Earth in the Marvel Universe. As the MCU has yet to introduce Adamantium and that is an alloy, Vibranium is pretty much the gold standard in unbreakable metals. Captain America's shield was made from it, so is most of everything Black Panther uses in and out of his home country of Wakanda. Not much is stronger, but Luke Cage's skin makes that list.

The MCU has yet to put this question to the test, but in the comics, Luke Cage has stood his ground against foes who wielded Vibranium weapons and technology. He has also battled the likes of Spider-Man, Doctor Doom, Iron Man and many others placing him within their league in terms of power.

1 HIS SKIN ISN'T TRULY "UNBREAKABLE"

Luke Cage Season 2

As we already mentioned, his skin was penetrated by a Judas Bullet in the first season of Marvel's Luke Cage. Unfortunately for Mr. Cage, that wasn't the only thing capable of tearing through his flesh. In the comics, he is a bit more vulnerable thanks to people like Wolverine and his fellow Adamantium inflicted associates. Adamantium could certainly cut through Cage's flesh with relative ease, but it isn't the only thing.

Unlike bullets, Cage cannot absorb or deflect laser blasts of significant enough energy. He has thrown off Iron Man's repulsors, but a "super-powered laser" can cut into him. The energy and beam focus has to be considerably high to achieve a cut, but it can and has happened in the comics over the years.

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