A lot of us grew up reading comics so we know some of the flaws that the rest of the public may not understand. Those who base what they know about superheroes from the movies do not realize that the same characters they see on the big screen have not always been portrayed in such great light. One of the subjects that has appeared in comic books is drug addiction not only in villains but also the good guys. They are not all the perfect boy scout, in fact some of the more interesting stories portray the big strong characters wrestling with their inner demons. Here are some of the addictions which your favorite heroes had to deal with at one point or another.
Tony Stark is as the movie said a billionaire, playboy and a philanthropist, but in the comic books he has also been an alcoholic. It is part of his past due to the stress that he had to deal with and in the “Demon in a Bottle” story line he hit rock bottom. Justin Hammer caused a malfunction in one of Iron-Man’s suits and that led to the death of a diplomat at a very public event. He may have beaten Hammer that day, but his alcoholism won and was there until it reached a point where Pepper and Jarvis suffered verbal abuse from Tony. Finally Tony recognized he had a problem and asked for help.
Movie fans know him as John Constantine and in the movie “Constantine” you actually got an idea of what his weakness is. Constantine is very much addicted to smoking and it is not something that happened in the middle of the series. John is a chain smoker and that was never in question from the very first comic book he appeared in. Eventually the chain-smoking got to him and he realized he had lung cancer. He was eventually cured by the three different rulers of hell when he made a deal for his soul with all of them.
Moon Knight is not one of the most well-known superheroes to people who do not read comic books, but is one of the more popular characters in the Marvel lineup. He is an unforgiving, violent and crazy anti-hero who will get the job done. He also has visions that make him think he is the avatar of the Egyptian moon-god Khonshu. The problem is that he is so gone mentally that the reader does not really know if it is all in his mind, or if his visions are actually real. Either way he takes a variety of medication including pain pills that he is definitely hooked on. This is not a character that you would call a boy scout; he is more in the line of the Punisher.
Not every substance that heroes battle is a real one, and the leader of the Young Avengers is the best example of that. The Patriot does not really have any powers, which makes it hard to become a superhero in a group that includes Hulkling, Speed, Vision, Wiccan, Stature and others. So while he will talk about getting his Super Soldier abilities thanks to a blood transfusion, the reality is that he injected M.G.H. or Mutant Growth Hormone to gain them. Eventually the blood transfusion did happen and Elijah no longer needed the M.G.H. shots.
Hourman can only fight crime for one hour, and that is because he does not really have any super powers. Instead he created a drug called “Miraclo” which he then converted into pills that give him enhanced abilities for an hour. Besides the obvious problem of finding yourself with a minute to go while in the middle of fighting crime, there is a second problem; “Miraclo” in its original form was very addictive and eventually gave Rex Tyler leukemia. Eventually the third Hourman healed Rex and helped him cure his addiction to the drug.
The Dark Knight has fought many villains (and the occasional hero), all without having special super powers. In the Venom story included in “Legends of the Dark Knight” Batman got a little extra help from the same drug used to give Bane his special abilities. Think of Venom as a highly addictive and incredibly effective super-steroid. Later on readers learned that Venom is actually similar to “Miraclo” with the difference being that is a lot stronger. The drug makes Bruce Wayne not only faster and stronger, but also a lot more violent, to the point that he enjoys his violent moments a little too much. He finally kicked the habit by getting locked in the Batcave for a full month.
If you think of Captain America as the perfect well-behaved role model that everyone should aim to be like, then you may want to skip this paragraph. Would you believe that Cap was actually a meth head for a bit? We all know that Cap got his powers from a drug called the “Super Soldier Serum”, but that was a one-time thing. To be fair, Captain America did not go looking to try the drug in a back alley; he was doing his own investigation of a drug ring when there was a meth-explosion. The mix of the meth and the Super Soldier Serum in Cap’s blood made him a violent and paranoid super-powered Avenger, and that was bad news for Daredevil who was beat up by Cap. Finally he got detoxed with the help of Natasha Romanoff (the Black Widow).
If your superhero name is "Speedy", then it is not that strange that some form of drug addiction will take place. Speedy or Roy Harper was the sidekick to the Green Arrow and is a trained archer just like his idol. In the Teen Titans run after a romantic break up, the sudden disbandment of the Teen Titans and feeling neglected by the Green Arrow, Speedy took on heroin. The addiction became really bad, and it got to the point that he suffered a beating by the Arrow and then thrown out. He was then helped by the Black Canary and the Green Lantern, and eventually stopped doing the drug. Roy became an anti-drug spokesman for the government and was able to get back to crime-fighting.