Not too long ago, Comic Book Resources talked to director Shane Black about Marvel’s Iron Man 3, which arrives in theaters today. When asked about David Michelinie and Bob Layton’s infamous “Demon in a Bottle” storyline, considered the darkest and deepest Tony Stark of them all, and its potential adaptation to the big screen, Black said, “No, because if we go there — it’s part of Tony’s character, but I think the ‘Demon in a Bottle; aspect, if you go there, you really have to go there. The film then becomes about that, because the journey that involves recovering from alcoholism is an entire movie. I mean, I want to keep it dark and interesting and edgy and spicy and all those things, but I don’t think we want to go as far as to deal with Tony’s descent into alcoholic madness. That’s maybe not where we want to be.”
This turned some heads, triggering accusations that Disney demanded sobriety, that Black forswore any alcohol in Iron Man 3 and insistence that it was a big deal that this issue wasn’t going to be addressed at all. I can see where the director is coming from on this: Iron Man has a lot on his plate already with four films’ worth of continuity and troubles following him, and to stop in the middle of all of that to take that turn down a dark and lonely path isn’t where we want to be in our Marvel movie medley.
Believe it or not, Iron Man 3 deals with a lot with demons, just not the particular demon of alcoholism. There are demons that are spawned from poor decision-making and from being a bit of a bastard in one’s younger years. There are demons that terrify us but, at heart, are completely manufactured from insecurity and doubt. And there are even more personal demons than that, ones that drive us into the night and can slowly crush you from the inside.
Seeing Iron Man 3 last night taught me something very important about myself and heroism, and those great, grand concepts I love to take from comics about dudes punching each other. Because, while the spectacle is fantastic, the effects and details are dead on, the acting is challenging and sly, it’s those message moments done just right that make viewers realize they just might have seen a different movie than everyone else.
WARNING: Iron Man 3 will be discussed below! I’m keeping out as many details as possible, but if you’re remaining spoiler-free, you might want to bookmark this one for later. To the brave, read on!