The primary definitions of a superhero are made by the villains they face, and the internal burdens they take with them. Superman has to constantly be aware of the power he possesses; one wrong move when using his powers, and he can hurt the ones he loves. Spider-man combats depression, knowing that some of his actions had lead to the death of his Uncle Ben. Batman wrangles against his fears by setting his focus on fighting against the criminal element in Gotham which reminds him of his parents murder. However, one overlooked hero when dealing with his internal struggles is the Iron Man, Tony Stark.
A far cry from other superheroes, who typically wears tights as their costume; Tony Stark’s super-suit is high tech armor. Tony Stark’s armor not only allows him to fight crime, but is also designed to sustain his physical body due to his heart injury in Vietnam. The chest plate was originally meant to sustain him until he sought out the proper medical care. Tony Stark connected himself to his suit, and wore the chest plate of the armor under his clothes; the magnet in the armor acted as a buffer between the shrapnel in his chest and his heart.
The early years of Iron Man was an emotional roller-coaster; the armor gave him great strength and power, but also had become a reminder of his vulnerable physical condition. The reliance on his armor which helped take away the pain in his chest only added to his many problems. Despite Tony Stark’s physical struggles, he proved himself as a superhero all the time.
Stark risks his life each time he goes out in his armor to face his foes whether alone or with The Avengers. Tony Stark is but a mere human underneath his armor, any breakdown in the computerized systems can be catastrophic for him. Any malfunction, can lead to Iron Man hurting himself or any innocent people around him. The burden and stress of superhero life had been too great for him at times- which led him to depression, and into the hands of alcoholism.
The story line “Demon in the Bottle” became controversial for its time, but Marvel Comics knew that it can be important to deal with real human issues. There have been intense issues that Marvel Comics had dealt with before in their past, for example, Harry Osborne dealing with a drug addiction. However, the difference is that Iron Man is a hero; he should be above such weaknesses. But it highlights the real stress that being a superhero has, and how it can affect the emotional well-being of these heroes. Tony Stark was cured of his alcoholism, but not without hurting his teammates and loved ones in the process- putting an even more strain on his relationships than before.
With the focus placed on some of the more prominent superheroes, Tony Stark aka Iron Man can get overlooked. Tony Stark’s background isn’t as relatable as some heroes; Superman is the small town every-man with a powerful ideal alter ego, Spider-man is your average type of person, someone who is not noticed much but has something about his personality that almost anyone can relate to, and The Batman has that place of darkness within his soul that people are drawn to. However, in the final analysis Iron Man may be the most human; he may be the rich wheeling and dealing arms dealer/ womanizer, but he ultimately cares, and has his vulnerabilities- not only physically but emotionally as well.