Marvel’s Netflix division is still going strong with Luke Cage. While it’s an excellent TV series, there is one pet peeve: While its plot references fellow series Jessica Jones, Luke Cage doesn’t keep the main thing that should carry over. Jessica Jones‘ penultimate episode and finale established that Luke Cage, despite his toughness and strength, is vulnerable to concussive force. That doesn’t carry over into Luke Cage and there’s at least two instances where the lead should be dead.
It should go without saying there will be spoilers for the first seasons of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.
Towards the end of Jessica Jones, Jessica and Luke (who’s mind-controlled by Kilgrave) fight and Luke ends up taking a shotgun blast under his chin. Now the bullets themselves don’t kill him since they can’t puncture the skin. However, the concussive force of having shotgun pellets impact his face can knock the brain loose from the cranial spinal fluid it’s floating around in. This can have all sorts of effects, from inducing dizziness and headaches to altering a personality (if they survive). Further reading on the effects of internal injuries induced by blast trauma can be read at National Geographic.
At the end of Luke Cage‘s third episode, Luke is in a building with his landlady and is subjected to a blast from a rocket launcher when he uses his body to shield her. The resulting explosion brings down the building on top of him. Regardless of his super durability, Luke should have died from the resulting internal injuries either from the blast going off next to him or the building coming down on him.
What if he hand-wave all that way and chalk up the discrepancy to Jessica Jones‘ writers not coordinating with Luke Cage‘s? Maybe someone wrote Luke to be tougher than it really was? This is a pretty plausible explanation, especially with a corporate umbrella as expansive as Disney’s. Even if we buy into that explanation, though, someone didn’t do the research on what happens when a rocket explodes next to you.
Obviously, the fire from the explosion wouldn’t have incinerated his skin but it could still affect him internally. Luke would have died from the fire eating up all the oxygen in his vicinity, resulting in either a collapsed lung or the fire scorching his respiratory system. A collapsed lung would have resulted from the air pressure rapidly changing due to the force of the blast. The rapidity of this change flattens the lung and makes it impossible to breathe. Luke and his landlady would have then suffocated to death. If the lung doesn’t collapse, then the explosion’s heat and chemicals used to create would have scorched the airways of the victims. With the airways set ablaze and respiratory system torched, both of them would have asphyxiated.
The other instance occurs shortly after mid-season when Luke is shot twice by bullets that can pierce his bulletproof skin. Let’s put aside “there are safe places to shoot someone” trope and marvel at the fact that Luke Cage is able to move around, defend himself, fight (not at his best but still…) and not bleed out on a 12 hour drive to Georgia from Harlem. Let’s also marvel at how Luke and Claire can travel across multiple states through multiple congested metros (Philadelphia, Washington D.C….) notorious for how congested they are traffic-wise without stopping for 12 hours. It’s almost as if a writer ran directions through Google maps and rolled with it…
This piece detracts from an otherwise brilliant show. Luke Cage has kickass music, a unique yet suitable tone and presentation as well as some great moments and themes that it explores. Thinking the main lead should be dead after 3 episodes really hung over the series though. It keeps the show from eclipsing Daredevil as the best Netflix show.