23

In the film, Captain America says he can't get drunk, because his body processes the toxins too quickly. Can he be poisoned (or get drunk) if the concentrations are high enough so that he couldn't eliminate them quickly?

EDIT: His metabolism is four times faster than normal. This would explain why getting drunk is difficult, but we can also process other poisons as well (but slowly), so the question still remains.

  • I believe the correct quote is that he can't get drunk because his metabolism is running so high. – Jack B Nimble Jun 19 '12 at 3:00
  • @JackBNimble, thanks for pointing that out. Alcohol can be considered a poison, just one that we can process and causes little or no damage depending on the concentration. I'm wondering whether this applies to other toxins as well. – Teknophilia Jun 19 '12 at 3:18
  • Take note that a higher metabolism alone would suggest that he can't drink quick enough to stay drunk. If anything a lethal dose of anything is increased 4-fold for him. – Gorchestopher H Jun 19 '12 at 3:21
  • 1
    Also note that a high metabolism is not always a good thing; in many cases metabolizing a poisonous substance faster would just make it kill you faster. – KutuluMike Jun 19 '12 at 21:06
  • @MichaelEdenfield, absorbing the poison, and metabolising (breaking it down to remove/reduce toxicity) are two different things. – AncientSwordRage Jun 20 '12 at 10:12
19

Captain America can definitely get drunk. Wolverine: Weapon X #11 shows Wolverine and Steve Rogers (not the current Captain America at that point, but with the same powers) on a bar crawl.

Wolverine hurries them up at one point:

C'mon Rogers, the longer you drag-ass, the more my healing factor and your super-soldier serum's got to catch up and kill our buzz.

By extension a sufficient dose of poison (or even of alcohol) would be able to overload his metabolism, given he can drink enough under normal bar-crawl circumstances to at least have a "buzz".

  • I didn't know about this one, thanks! – Teknophilia Jun 19 '12 at 4:04
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    +1. I think the quote from the film had an implied ending: "I can't get drunk very easily." If Cap chugs a quart of Everclear, he's not just going to shrug it off. – Nerrolken Apr 30 '15 at 19:17
  • What does it mean when you say not the current Captain America at that point? You just mean it's not the movie but a comic book? – Hack-R Sep 1 '17 at 3:28
12

Yes.

He is still a human. Having a metabolism just four times faster can't make a difference. There are many poisons that would overload it quickly.

For example, cyanide compounds can kill humans within 10 seconds. Captain America could last up to 40 seconds at max and after that the cellular respiration of his brain cells would stop working.

After being completely dead, I don't think he could recover because his metabolic rate would drop to zero.

  • 1
    I would think that the higher metabolism would actually make the poison spread through his body faster. A sufficient dose of poison might actually kill him quicker... – Thorarin Jun 19 '12 at 9:05
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    @Thorarin Nice point.. But, poisons work on unit cells/tissues. More it will spread, more it'll be weak against body (due to low concentration available to units). Plus, higher metabolic rate means higher repairing and defying rate. – Baby Yoda Jun 19 '12 at 10:25
9

I found an intriguing article, about alcohol metabolism, which raises an interesting point. The Rate of absorption and metabolism are different and largely unrelated.

When alcohol is consumed, it passes from the stomach and intestines into the blood, a process referred to as absorption. Alcohol is then metabolized by enzymes, which are body chemicals that break down other chemicals.

To whit, alcohol is absorbed faster than it is being metabolised. Any poison that behaves the same would in large enough concentrations overwhelm Captain America and leave him in a drunken stupor, for a while.

enter image description here

The number of 'drinks' increases (1-4) as you go from line to line.

The upwards portion is the absorption taking place, as you see it's mostly the same gradient (steepness) between drinks, each one just gets higher before being taken down by those enzymes in an exponential decay. So for Captain America, only the downward slope would be steeper, and take about a quarter of the time for those enzymes to kick in.

Lets say, Captain America is pretty happy, he's saved the world and after some sweet Shawarma with tony he goes for some drinks. Trying to keep up with Tony he tanks, 4 pints.

Instead of the peak being at 1 hour, it's at quarter of an hour, and as it's the decay that starts earlier the peak is much lower (around 30%), and reaches ~0% at 1hr 45min. This means something that should take him up to 80%, is only 30%, which wikipedia leads me to believe is barely noticeable.

So yes, he could be intoxicated, even lethally. But you'd need a lot more of that toxin to have an effect.

  • lolled @ Shawarma :) – Schuere Sep 16 '15 at 8:17
  • Captain American didn't eat the Shawarma :( He'll never know what he missed – WizardKnight May 16 '17 at 13:50

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