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The Reason Iron Man 2 Did Not Address Tony Stark's Alcoholism in the Comics

Iron Man 2 was supposed to adapt the 'Demon in a Bottle' narrative, however that was scrapped owing to Robert Downey Jr.'s health and toy sales worries.

Marvel Studios promptly greenlit Iron Man 2 for release in the summer of 2010 after the film's surprising opening weekend of $98 million. The film recruited Justin Theroux, who had just written the script for Tropic Thunder, which won Robert Downey Jr. an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor the same year as Iron Man, and was rushed into production without a completed script.

The picture was greatly anticipated, not just because it was a sequel to a famous film, but also because it set the stage for The Avengers. While Iron Man may not have been on the same level as Spider-Man or the X-Men, one tale in particular, 'Demon in a Bottle,' was one that many fans were excited to see adapted. 'Demon in a Bottle,' published in 1979, was a nine-issue arc in which Tony dealt with his alcoholism and is considered by many to be the archetypal Iron Man narrative. Director Jon Favreau made a creative choice in choosing Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, nicknamed Iron Man. Despite Marvel's initial reservations about the hiring, he believed the actor's real battles with substance misuse would complement the part of Tony Stark. Many believed Iron Man 2 would adapt the plot, as sequels are usually the darkest chapters of the story.


While screenwriter Justin Theroux was originally contracted to adapt 'Demon in a Bottle,' plans changed owing to company notes, according to a recent piece by Vulture looking back on the tumultuous development of Iron Man 2. The company was worried that an intoxicated Iron Man would hurt the film's global marketing and box office possibilities, as well as sales of Iron Man toys and souvenirs. Susan Downey, Robert Downey Jr.'s wife and Iron Man 2's Executive Producer, also objected to the narrative because she was concerned about her husband's health.

Toy sales were a part in the transition in the early days of Marvel, as Maya Hansen's role as the main villain was downgraded to Aldrich Killian in Iron Man 3 owing to concerns about low toy sales. Malekith was selected as the villain of Thor: The Dark World over Hela for the same reason. Iron Man was chosen as the first MCU film based on market studies indicating that kids would want to buy his toys, therefore the selection made sense. Iron Man was the only proven product in the early days of Marvel Studios, therefore they were quite protective of the character.

Iron Man 2 is a mild adaption of 'Demon in the Bottle,' as it discovers that the arc-reactor is killing Tony, making him impulsive and self-destructive, and in one scene, Tony drinks heavily on his birthday, leading to a battle with his closest friend, James Rhodes. While a film is something worth fighting for on a creative level, the actors' safety comes first. Even as one of the film's producers, Susan Downey was wise to be concerned about her husband's well-being. Despite the fact that Iron Man 2 had significant challenges behind the scenes, the film was nevertheless a box office success, and the franchise thrived for years afterward.

Source: Vulture

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