Exploring the Unveiled Reality: Alcoholism in Iron Man Comics

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When you think about your day-to-day activity, for example, a simple dinner at a restaurant, how many people do you notice enjoying alcohol to take off the edge? Do you ever stop to think how many drinks someone has had? Our society is so used to the consumption of alcohol that we don’t notice how prevalent the problem is. Throughout the Iron Man comics, Stark has always struggled with a drinking problem. Even the movies made famous by Robert Downey Jr. briefly touch on Stark’s alcohol addiction. Furthermore, I am now going to explain the relationship between alcoholism and Iron Man through the lens of social issues, American culture, and health-related facts.

Iron Man and Alcoholism: An Unveiled Reality in Comics

Comic books have taken a route to address social issues. Iran Man portrays a man in the public eye with a serious addiction that he cannot overcome. Tony Stark (Iron Man) was once the victim of his own demise through excessive drinking. Comics define and deal with social problems in a variety of ways. The heroes can be put into situations that they don’t always know how to, or in some cases, if they should deal with it. The heroes always try to keep true to the norms that govern what society considers moral when they confront these issues, such as Iron Man’s addiction to alcohol. Iron Man 128, which was released in 1979, is a story about a hero who is confronted with the fact he is an alcoholic. This was a leap in comics because it is one of the first times a hero is shown to have an addiction himself instead of trying to help someone fight their own, showing not all superheroes are perfect; they do, in fact, have flaws.

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Stark’s Battle with Alcoholism: A Socially Relevant Story

Iron Man 128, also known as “Demon in a Bottle,” is an exact representation of alcohol abuse. Throughout the comic, Stark’s armor malfunctions, causing him to kill an ambassador and step down as leader of The Avengers. With stress and guilt, he found comfort in a bottle, which makes this comic so prevalent in society. Stark ended up discovering the man responsible for Iron Man’s malfunction. That man, Hammer, escaped, which caused Stark to drink more excessively. Towards the end of that comic, Jarvis, his butler, quit, and Stark is confronted by Beth. Beth explains to him that addiction killed her former husband. She vowed that she wouldn’t turn her back on him like she did her former husband. Stark then realizes he has a problem, hires Jarvis back, and seems to be optimistic about the future, conquering his addiction once and for all.

The creators of this comic, Bob Layton and David Michelinie, pointed out that the point of this story was not to be relevant. But to treat the bottle as the next villain. The rise and fall of a hero is a classic plot, but what differentiates this comic from others is instead of Doctor Doom or some other villain – it was the bottle. The creators of this comic gave Iron Man a sense of reality and humility through his struggles to overcome his addiction. Which, in the end, made this piece relevant. In the comic world, Bob Layton has “done it right.” Layton and Micheline, who began his journey in 1978, are known for reinventing Iron Man from a low-end book to a best-seller.

The Devastating Impact of Alcoholism on Health and Relationships

Since the beginning days of the medium, comic books have bestowed an engaging platform from which Americans culture has been investigated in its shifts. “Since Superman’s earliest Depression-era battles against corrupt businessmen and crooked politicians, comics have often reflected historical events, prevailing attitudes, and contemporary social problems.” But, it was rare for a comic to confront addiction. What Ever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? An Examination of the American Monomyth and the Comic Book Superhero takes a look at how superheroes are nothing more than a myth in our society and how that affects us from a social standpoint. Comic books are a fictionalized representation of our society today, and Iron Man is an example of a character that people can relate to in everyday life.

Iron Man’s Journey: From Addiction to Redemptio

The fact that a comic book allowed “the bottle” to be the villain shows a sense of vulnerability. They were reaching a larger audience. When people think of a comic, they think of a child enjoying the illustrations. But, talking about a social issue that is so relevant in society is reaching a more mature audience and expanding their horizons. The creators gave Starke a storyline that would change the comic world.

Each year, 80,000 people die from alcoholism-related deaths. Alcohol continues to be one of the nation’s most preventable deaths, behind Tobacco. It not only has a profound effect on the person and their body but the people around them. It causes depression, anxiety, and abuse. The amount of families that are affected by this is tremendous. As a society, there is a fine line between drinking socially and alcoholism. Alcohol is related to depression and can be linked to suicide, as well as many other detrimental mental problems. There is even a chance that alcohol can lead to physical or verbal abuse in a relationship. These problems may go unreported because since alcohol is a legal substance, it is less likely to be thought of as an addiction like drugs are. The most common reasons why people become addicted to alcohol is because they can’t cope with the feeling that is bothering them, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, which in Stark’s case was two of the three factors.

In the comic, it shows Iron Man sitting at his desk, holding his helmet with empty bottles around him. With the vivid detail of the picture, it gave you a true understanding of how bad his obsession was with alcohol. This is a powerful image because it shows how addiction is real and how someone of a public figure also struggles with the issue.

As Tony Stark hits rock bottom in Iron Man 172. Tony is drowning even deeper into alcoholism by giving the Iron Man armor to Rhodey so Tony can drink his way to death while concealing as much as possible. To make matters worse, the company Stark Industries has been taken over by Obadiah Stane. Tony is signing away from the company due to alcoholism and depression. The only thing left for the employees to maintain control of the company is to have Stark sign a paper, but Tony was hiding out in a run-down hotel. “Rhodey gets Captain America to find Tony and snap him out of his funk, with Steve even swatting the liquor out of Tony’s hands. Instead, Tony crawls back to his bottle, saying that if they could feel what he’s feeling, they’d know he has to drink. Cap leaves, telling Tony that his father was an alcoholic, and he knows that the only way someone can stop drinking is if they admit they need help… Tony doesn’t even care about his company, his fortune, his friends, or anything else besides drinking himself to death.” This situation just shows how much a man can be corrupted by darkness inside himself.

This comic was very understated; when starting the comic, you had no idea where it was going to go. As stated above, the purpose of this comic was not to be relevant but to tell a story of the downfall of a powerful man.

In the movie, another incident showing his obsession with alcohol is when Tony Stark throws a party at his house. He hit rock bottom when he peed himself at the party. The well-known, heroic Iron Man contradicted himself in this situation. He was at such a low point, which many alcoholics experienced at some point in time.

As many people may know, the comic was made into a movie. In the making of the third movie, Disney decided to cut out the fact that Tony Stark had an addiction to alcohol. Their audience is young, but they lost a teaching moment in the process. Society today fluffs addiction and doesn’t recognize it enough. Stark is a powerful man in a position that could have taught people that they can cope and overcome addiction. Stark is more than a man in an iron suit that protects the universe and has a drinking problem. He has a life lesson to learn from all of the experiences that he has overcome in his comic debut. That never made it to the big screen.

To sum up, even with his drinking problem, Stark was an American icon, a hero, and a staple of the Marvel Universe. This particular storyline brought Stark to his knees in a way that none of his incredibly powerful villains could even dream of, showing us how terrible addiction can be. Even the most powerful man in the world, with limitless finances, limitless technology, and a mind to match the greatest scientists of all time, alcoholism and addiction can still be crippling.

Work Cited:

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  2. “Causes of Alcoholism – Is Alcoholism Hereditary? – AlcoholRehabGuide.” Alcohol Rehab Guide, www.alcoholrehabguide.org/alcoh
  3. “Iron Man / Tear Jerker.” TV Tropes, tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/TearJerker/IronMan.
  4. Kenneth Rocafort – Comic Book DB, comicbookdb.com/creator.php?ID=1067.
  5. Lang, Jeffrey S., and Patrick Trimble. “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? An Examination of the American Monomyth and the Comic Book Superhero.” The Journal of Popular Culture, Wiley/Blackwell (10.1111), 5 March. 2004, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.0022-3840.1988.2203_157.x.
  6. Massengale, Jeremiah. ‘Review of Bradford W. Wright’s Comic Book Nation.’ ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies. 6.3 (2013): n. pag. Dept of English, University of Florida. 5 December 2018. Web. http://imagetext.english.ufl.edu/archives/v6_3/massengale/
  7. Michelinie, David, et al. Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle. Marvel Pub., 2008.
  8. Roach, David, and Peter Sanderson. “Iron Man.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 19 July 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/Iron-Man-comic-book-character.
  9. Superheroes and Superegos: Analyzing the Minds Behind the Masks.” Google Books, books.google.com/books?id=1UopTvWYaYgC&pg=PA119&lpg=PA119&dq=political+views+on+iron+man+and+his+drinking+problem&source=bl&ots=Wz1k1VPY7M&sig=6i_zBvsduodxs63Tq-bh6nZyBBU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj4lePSiPTeAhWm1VkKHf2rDOE4ChDoATADegQICRAB#v=onepage&q&f=false.

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Exploring the Unveiled Reality: Alcoholism in Iron Man Comics. (2023, Aug 30). Retrieved from https://edusson.com/examples/exploring-the-unveiled-reality-alcoholism-in-iron-man-comics

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