Iron Man and Marvel Comics
Iron Man is my hero. So is Robert Downey, Jr., who portrays Iron Man. In fact, I find all superheroes compelling, whether they are fictional or not. In fact, sometimes I pretend I’m a superhero (or a Jedi) because it helps me get through difficult situations.
Robert Downey, Jr.
Robert Downey, Jr. has had a checkered past. He had some early Hollywood success, but it was marred by very public problems with drug abuse that ruined his career and eventually landed him in prison.
At one point a doctor diagnosed him with bipolar disorder and asked Downey if a list of bipolar symptoms sounded like him. Downey admitted to having uncontrolled spending sprees, going days at a time without sleeping, and periods of depression. These, among other things, are symptoms of bipolar disorder.
After his stint in prison, he made a clean start and has apparently been clean ever since. He now denies being bipolar and claims that you can’t diagnose someone who is on drugs; you have to diagnose them after they are sober.
Whether he has bipolar disorder or not, he has delved deep into mental health problems, experiencing both extreme highs and lows and all the cascading symptoms associated with each. What’s remarkable and commendable is how he has overcome these difficulties and not merely to “get by.” He’s thriving. As one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood today, he is finally achieving the success and recognition his talent deserves.
For that, he is my hero. He had great potential and squandered his opportunity but he overcame his personal issues to come back better than ever. He truly is Iron Man.
Robert Downey, Jr. plays the Marvel Comics character, Tony Stark as Iron Man, a role for which he is incredibly well-suited (pun intended). I’m not sure he has to do much acting for that role because the similarities between Downey and Stark are many. Tony Stark is a billionaire. In his early years he was quite the playboy, who didn’t take his job seriously. After hitting bottom as a hostage held by terrorists for three months, Stark makes a remarkable comeback. Still, Stark experiences symptoms that could be considered bipolar, such as not sleeping for 72 hours.
Tony Stark, like Downey, hit bottom and came back better than ever. In fact, he became a superhero. He channeled his attention and efforts into working for good, but he still displayed very human tendencies such as experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For being a flawed superhero, I admire the character of Tony Stark.
I have to admit, I find the entire Marvel Comics franchise compelling. Heroes abound. Captain America is good for the sake of good. Thor is a good-humored “god” (from Norse mythology), whose brother Loki (a trickster) is unruly and out of control. These heroes, along with The Hulk, Black Widow, and The Hawk combine to form The Avengers, the world’s greatest superheroes with a mission to protect earth from domestic and intergalactic threats. I even enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy, The Fantastic 4, X-Men, and Spiderman, also legends in the Marvel Comics universe.
Stan Lee is remarkable—a superhero in his own right. Stan Lee is the creator of the Marvel Comics superheroes. He drew the original comic books. Today, in his nineties, he maintains a vigorous schedule, including appearances in each of the Marvel Comics movies, attending comic conventions around the country nearly every weekend, running an art program for kids, and maintaining an active social media presence. He’s more than a legend. He’s an icon. (I want to be active like Stan Lee when I grow up.)
What’s not to love about superheroes? They appeal to the desire in each of us to be more than we currently think possible. We all want to be more than we are—more than others think we are. We know there is greatness within us somewhere, waiting to bust out at just the right time. Superheroes keep our faith in ourselves alive. They give us hope that we can be who we dream of becoming.
That’s why I adore Iron Man and the Marvel Comics superheroes.
Behind the Scenes: Meet the Legendary Stan Lee, Comic Book Creator