Of all the super people that make up Netflix’s Marvel mini-verse, Luke Cage is easily the least vulnerable of all of them. He’s super strong, like Jessica Jones and Danny Rand, but his defining physical trait is his impenetrable skin. You can’t shoot Luke Cage — the bullets just bounce right off him. But Luke is certainly not unkillable. So as we head into the second season of “Luke Cage,” it’s worth looking again at how a bad guy might be able to take Luke out.
We saw one particular vulnerability back in the first season of “Jessica Jones,” when Jessica was forced to blast Luke right in the face with a shotgun when he was mind controlled by Kilgrave. Though the shell bounced right off his skin, the whiplash caused his brain to slam against the inside of his skull (a major, major concussion), resulting in severe trauma that nearly killed him.
One physical weak point for Luke Cage may be his eyes. He survived Jessica’s shotgun blast because Claire Temple was able to stick an IV needle through his eye to drain excess brain fluid. Some comic book writers have made Luke’s eyes as impenetrable as his skin, but it seems that’s not the case in the MCU. Aiming for his eyeholes, or any other body cavity, might be the way to bring him down.
Meanwhile, even though he’s super, Luke’s body does have the same basic physical needs as everyone else — he’s gotta eat, and he’s gotta breathe. Drowning, then, seems like the easiest possibility — not that it would be all that easy. But in terms of murderous solutions it’s probably the most straightforward.
Poisoning his food or exposing him to poisonous gas are also options though there’s no telling how much poison would actually be necessary. Along with his bulletproof skin, Luke Cage has strength and a healing factor, making the rest of his body more resilient than that of a normal human being. Just as it takes a big gun at point-blank range to do any damage, it would require either a corrosive acid or a very potent poison in order to harm Cage.
Meanwhile, we did see a weapon back in season 1 of “Luke Cage” that was capable of, on its own, killing Luke. I’m referring to the Judas Bullet, which the villainous Diamondback shot Luke with midway through the season. The Judas Bullet is made of alien metal salvaged from the Battle of New York back in the first “Avengers” movie, and it tears right through Luke.
However, it appears the Judas bullet is out of the picture in season 2. (Spoilers for the first episode of season 2 here.)
Another baddie tries to use a Judas to take out Luke in the first episode of the season but it doesn’t work this time. Claire suggests that the elaborate treatment Luke underwent to recover from getting shot with a Judas the other time strengthened him somehow. So, so much for that plan.
Then, of course, there’s the most mundane possibility: that Luke could come down with some sort of medical issue that would require an operation to fix. Luke’s healing factor probably prevents him from contracting most illnesses, but if he can take internal damage from a shot to the head then it’s probably possible that a shot to the body with enough force could damage his kidneys or something. If something like that happened, Luke’s skin would prevent any surgeon from making an incision to try to help. That means that any serious damage to Luke’s intestines, lungs or heart would be near impossible to fix by traditional means.
Unless, that is, that surgeon had an adamantium scalpel. One thing from comic book lore that can break through Luke’s skin is adamantium, the world’s hardest metal and the coating around Wolverine’s bones and claws. That said, there have been no known uses or even mentions of adamantium anywhere in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So until Disney finalizes its purchase of 20th Century Fox and integrates the X-Men into the MCU then Luke probably doesn’t need to fear adamantium. But maybe a bladed weapon made out of vibranium could do it.
Finally, while Luke is resistant to radiation, he’s not invulnerable to it. In the “Age of Ultron” comic book event series, Luke is killed by radiation poisoning following a nuclear strike from Ultron’s sentinels, though it takes time for the effects of the strike to do him in. So if New York was nuked, Luke would maybe survive the blast only to die of radiation poisoning later. We don’t think there’s much risk of that happening.