Tony Stark can't sleep. Months after the events of The Avengers (2012 motion picture), the hero who proved himself willing to sacrifice his own life in order to save New York from nuclear destruction now suffers from insomnia, bad dreams, avoidance, suppression, and panic episodes that he refers to as "anxiety attacks." Whereas trauma at the start of the original film Iron Man fired up his determination to live and led to his posttraumatic growth, encountering forces from beyond this world and facing his own mortality in The Avengers left him suffering posttraumatic stress.
Online, reactions to this depiction ranged widely, with some viewers feeling annoyed as if this diminished the lead character while others find it helpful and meaningful to see a hero suffering like a real human being. Sometimes people even thank the filmmakers for breaking down walls and helping to combat mental health stigma. Heroes are human. The most successful superhero stories emphasize the human experience in superhuman situations.
sandsqwid: Iron Man 3 I thought did something no other movie did. It addressed the stigma to which PTSD and soldiers are accustomed to daily. #PTSD
JoByars: "We create our own demons." Even Tony Stark has anxiety attacks. Don't trigger someone's PTSD who happens to be Iron Man.
Bipolargymchick: So Tony Stark aka IRONMAN suffers anxiety and PTSD! Now THAT'S BREAKING THE STIGMA!! Well done MARVEL. I salute u! #breakthestigma
k8dj: the best part of Iron Man 3 was tony having PTSD from the avengers and also @rayray101 falling asleep
ClearAutumn: Saw Ironman 3 last night. Tony Stark, call me. I can clear the PTSD that's causing your Panic Attacks
IAmVanHelsing: dude but like can we talk about how they address Tony's issues and PTSD in Iron Man. like. seriously.
jmartinwrites: Iron Man 3 was amazing, I loved how they tied into Avengers with the PTSD in a way that moved Tony forward.
ghostburger: The whole movie was snarky dialogue and Tony getting over his Avengers ptsd
ichbinBonBon: Needed to see a movie about someone with bad anxiety triumphing, didn't realize it would be Iron Man 3 but w/e I got what I needed!
Sleestak: Iron Man 3 didn't beat you over the head with some things. Like is it PTSD or Demon in a Bottle DT's? Both?
Sleestak: Iron Man 3 ref Avengers & problems (PTSD, Future Shock) world changing...& absolutely DID NOT expect Red She-Hulk to show! Phase 3 Whoooo!
SineadStark_: Makes me cry how in Iron Man 3 on the drawing when he's signing it he puts "help me" BECAUSE HE NEEDS HELP WITH THE ANXIETY FROM NEW YORK
placesparallel: Tony has PTSD in Iron Man 3. Not from his experience being held by terrorists. From WINNING The Avengers. For a douche, he's super insecure.
laura_ccox: So I'm a serious fan of the PTSD/anxiety attacks in the new Iron Man. They're very realistic and Tony is made so human by it. #thoughts
Frankietheig: @VincentRocket in the new movie Tony Stark/ Iron Man has an anxiety problem! It looked a lot like PTSD. Made him vulnerable.
AllegraIntegra: Iron Man III. Glad they touched on PTSD/panic. Tired of the girlfriend trophy trope.
SamuelStills: It was interesting to see Stark in that pinch, but his PTSD never seemed fully convincing. The threat fell flat.
johnserba: "Iron Man 3" may be the lightest, most entertaining cinematic exploration of PTSD yet.
cjredwine: In case you missed my review, saw Iron Man 3 last night. BRILLIANT. Thrilling, action-packed, funny but also an authentic look at PTSD.
phoebeyonce: tony stark has ptsd too i have nothing to be ashamed of
pujalords: #IronMan3 had no discernible plot, PTSD Tony Stark, zero new tech, made Sir Ben Kingsley into a buffoon & forgot The Mandarin's RINGS. #fail
SmallerBombs: tony stark anxiety attacks from avengers ptsd he almost died anyway but hulk screamed in his face, remember that
callofchristineL But seriously, that movie summed up PTSD perfectly. Thank you Tony Stark and your unbelievably messed up brain.
AndrewCooker: #IronMan3 : a superhero movie with twists, PTSD (timely,no?), and some of the best FX scenes yet shown in a Tony Stark movie. Nicely done.
snareswoof: NYC gets invaded by aliens. Stark does the right thing in a long while sacrificing himself to save humanity. Gets PTSD and anxiety attacks. I'm just saying they really overplayed the PTSD card on this one. Exploring Stark's vulnerabilities was a good angle, but too much.
carolina75011: So Tony Stark has PTSD? Is that what's going on?
BrianHughesDC: FWIW, #IronMan3 is decent but hindered by a clumsily executed Tony-Stark-PTSD storyline.
TimDenchanter: IronMan3 - good job portraying Tony Stark suffering from PTSD & Panic/Anxiety - raising awareness/sympathy - even Iron Man can need help
flame13th: Tony Stark has PTSD because of the Avengers incident. AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!
sunsets: I really liked the whole PTSD/anxiety attack thing with Tony Stark. Robert Downey Jr is always a pleasure to watch.
LogansGambit: //FOLLOW MY IRON MAN 3 TONY STARK! Just dont mention New York too often... @PTSD_Stark
enaj34: @Superherologist @johnny_sparrow i believe mental health issues just make us stronger, so a superhero with PTSD sounds like an advantage :)
josh_allard: @tvoti Love the idea of a super hero with PTSD, but the anxiety attacks were like an on/off switch
Adam_LeafFan: Iron Man 3 - Likes - Superhero PTSD following events of "The Avengers". The use and effects of Extremis were close to comics...
Adam_LeafFan: Iron - Man 3 Dislikes -The superhero PTSD Stark is feeling is suddenly dropped and never really gets resolved to my liking!
wennykha: So the whole ironman 3 is actually about a failed therapy session of a PTSD,anxiety disordered superhero by a so-called therapist
BDMacDonaldFilm: Also, I kind of dig the progression of Stark's maladies; shrapnel, blood poisoning, PTSD. He's such a poor little rich kid.
androoshaw: Loved the way it dealt with superhero PTSD, really gave Stark a proper arc unlike Iron Man 2's wishy washy approach.
TheStrangeQuark: It was shocking how many people in the cinema thought Tony Stark having an anxiety attack brought on by PTSD was funny. #IronMan3
nathcroughan: giving a 'superhero' PTSD is perhaps one of the best character developments to ever evolve out of the comic book movie genre
jogginsboy: I'm no @Superherologist but it's the suit that's iron, not Stark. He's definitely suffering.
Many tweets specifically addressed the "anxiety attacks," as Tony calls them throughout the film:
amanda_zenitram: Iron Man has anxiety attacks too so now I don't feel so bad.
Eibmoz: My son has an anxiety disorder. He saw Iron Man 3 today, and saw that Tony Stark had panic attacks. Made him feel a lot better about it.
Dara_Aliyah: Iron Man has anxiety attacks just like me omg I can relate
Girliegurll: I feel so much better about my anxiety attacks now that Tony Stark has them, too.
Jimmy_Santander: Stupid Tony Stark having anxiety attacks. GTFO.
doyybrodit: #SelfFact just like ironman, I experience anxiety attacks
l0seryear: while watching iron man 3 i almost cried when tony had those anxiety attacks cause i was like i feel u man
brbteatime: The Iron Man 3 movie left me hanging when it comes to dealing with anxiety attacks.
liljenben: I literally felt a lot better when I found out that Iron Man has anxiety attacks just like me last night though...
ErikaKelsey: So I saw Iron Man 3 last night but I couldn't take it seriously due to the ridiculous way they depicted anxiety attacks #PsychMajorProbs
elainelow: Watched "Iron Man 3" to alleviate an anxiety attack, only to watch Tony Stark have a series of anxiety attacks. I call that irony. Ironmany.
AnaKassandra: Even Iron Man gets anxiety attacks, I'm not alone!
_AlexUndead: Quite fitting how I was facing my anxiety by going to see the cinema to watch Iron Man and the film was about him having anxiety attacks:L
kimjessjack: Watching iron man have anxiety attacks is so sad :(
tollars: Great effects. Not so good movie. How can iron man have anxiety attacks. Stupid
TheAngelValdez: Even Iron Man has anxiety attacks.
THEkarenkae: If I never watched Iron Man 3, I would have never known about anxiety attacks and how I get them (at times) too. Wow.
thatcaitkid: If your anxiety ever gets you down, just remember that Tony Stark built like 40 prototypes in the midst of his anxiety. You can do it!
[17-year-old]: If Iron Man can have anxiety attacks and still be awesome, so can I
What's your take on this? Is it good for the film depiction of a fictional superhero to show him suffering? Would he provide a better role model by staying strong or by revealing weakness? Can superhero movies combat the stigma over mental health issues, and should they?