We love superheroes because… well, they’re super. Superheroes can fly, or they can run with incredible speed. They possess extreme intelligence, and of course, superhero-type strength.

But superheroes, true superheroes, also have flaws. And it’s those flaws, such as a dark past, or a needling obsession, that makes superheroes relatable to regular folks like us.

Superheroes can also have problems with addiction. For the last week of April, known almost as well in the comics and cartoon world as the week we celebrate National Superhero Day, our superhero spotlight is aimed on Iron Man, a flawed character for sure, but one whose affliction with alcohol abuse can lead to his flaw.


In Marvel Comics’ 1979 nine-part series, “Demon in a Bottle,” Iron Man’s secret identity as Tony Stark is shown to be falling victim to alcoholism. As Iron Man, Stark flies through windows and fouls up rescue attempts he wouldn’t have erred on had he been sober.

The theme of alcohol addiction that plays throughout “Demon in a Bottle” offers an insight into a character flaw any of us can have. To know Tony Stark struggles with his addiction, all while having the hard-love support of fellow superhero and girlfriend, Bethany Cabe, we also see the very human side of how addiction affects relationships: “Can’t you see you’re becoming your own worst enemy?” Cabe states. “And you’re trying to kill that enemy with a bottle.” Soon after this, Stark and Cabe are on the outs, most of it due to Stark’s drinking.


The synopsis of “Demon in a Bottle”1 located on the Marvel Comics’ database, suggests the nine-part series as more of a character story than an action-adventure piece. The series’ focus is not on feats of strength, knock out punches through walls, or mid-air fist fights. Instead, we have a portrayal of a man brought to a very human level by his addiction to one of the most common drugs available.

The superhero aspect of Stark/Iron Man is that after several very long human-like struggles, along with support from loved ones, Stark overcomes his alcohol addiction and quits drinking.


The duo of Iron Man and Tony Stark in “Demon in a Bottle” teaches us that no matter how strong or resilient, and no matter how decent our character is, we can quite easily fall from grace due to an addiction problem.

The second lesson learned is an addiction, if not addressed, can infiltrate every aspect of your lives as did Stark’s addiction. Whether he was Stark or Iron Man, alcohol still affected both of his identities.

Third lesson, the struggle to overcome his addiction was not the typical solo superhero effort seen in other comics. Stark instead needed friends and loved ones to help him end his substance abuse.

So on this week in which we honor our superheroes, do we think Tony Stark is any less a hero for having an addiction?

Absolutely not.

Is he even more a superhero because he overcame his addiction?

Absolutely yes.

If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.


  1. Iron Man Vol 1 128, Marvel Database. Retrieved April 29, 2016.


Even Superheroes Have Problems with Addiction