Life must be tough for the ordinary and normal, non-powered folks living in worlds full of super-people. All you want to do is go about your business, but every time you turn around, there’s some nutcase trying to bring down city hall or turn the populace into brainless, six-armed monsters. What could be worse than that? How about if the superhero who shows up to save you is totally hammered? It may not happen all that often — or so we tell ourselves so we can continue to sleep at night — but when it does happen, the results can be anywhere from comedic to catastrophic.
In this list, we take a look at fifteen of the most memorable incidents that the heroes involved in probably can’t remember. Here, you’ll see everything from space rocks to cookies to plain old-fashioned booze turn your favorite heroes into buffoons and/or tyrants who can’t tell their capes from their cowls. If there can be a bright side to any of this, it’s that any superhero-worshiping kid out there who sees their hero acting all crazy will probably think twice before taking anything that could possibly make them act that way. “Actions speak louder than words” and all that.
15. STOP HELPING!
No list of superheroes operating in altered states would be complete without an appearance from Marvel’s most famous alcoholic, Iron Man. Needless to say, with such a long history of drinking, Tony Stark also has a long history of making bad decisions while drunk.
In Iron Man #128, after crashing through his own office window, Iron Man shakily flies off in search of adventure and finds a derailed train. One of the train cars contains the deadly gas chlorine. But it’s not as bad as all that: the car with the chlorine is still completely sealed… until Iron Man, determined to help whether the emergency crews want him to or not, lifts the car and then loses his grip on it. The car cracks open, allowing chlorine to leak everywhere.
14. OPPOSITE DAY
Kryptonians may not be affected by our pathetic Earth intoxicants, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get plastered. In the Supergirl episode “Falling,” our title heroine is exposed to red kryptonite. In the comics, this type of kryptonite is highly unpredictable. It can make the affected party say, do or become just about anything. On television, however, red kryptonite has reliably turned its victim into a grade A jerk.
Under the influence of the red kryptonite, Supergirl acts like the exact opposite of her usual self. Where she normally views heroism as its own reward, she now demands everyone worship her as a god. Where she normally adores her friends and family, she is now cruel and accuses them of secretly hating her. And where she is normally a model employee, she now chucks her boss off the roof.
13. CAPTAIN AMERICA ON ICE
In Captain America #372, Cap gets caught in a warehouse explosion. The warehouse was filled with Ice, a new drug created by Red Skull himself. The drug bonds with the super soldier serum, leaving Cap permanently high. His girlfriend Diamondback first notices something is amiss when Cap leaps off their shared sky cycle, leaving her to drive. The problem? She’s never driven one before. She and the cycle both end up in the Hudson.
And that’s just the start of Cap’s drug-fueled misadventures. He steals Kingpin’s dinner and punches his way through Diamondback, Daredevil and Black Widow before finally admitting he has a problem. Fortunately, his friends don’t hold his erratic behavior against him and help him figure out a way to get the Ice out of his veins for good.
12. MEOW MIX-UP
Roy Harper was one of the first comic book characters to have a drug problem. As Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy, he overcame his heroin addiction with Black Canary’s help. He managed to stay sober until he lost his daughter and his arm thanks to the supervillain Prometheus. To cope, Roy once again turns to heroin. This leads to the most infamous moment of Rise of Arsenal #3, wherein a wasted Arsenal imagines that his daughter is alive and that he must protect her from an army of Prometheuses. Promethei? Whatever.
Arsenal eventually comes to his senses, only to realize that the supervillains he thought he was beating up are really just random guys, and Lian is really a dead, flea-ridden cat. Later on, Arsenal hallucinates his daughter as a zombie. Because what comic is not improved by the presence of child zombies?
11. WARBIRD ON THE WARPATH
Carol Danvers (aka Warbird) once turned to alcohol to deal with various stresses in her life. Resident alcoholism expert Tony Stark tries to talk with her, only to be rebuffed. Tony leaves, but a drunk Carol decides she’s not finished yelling at him. She crashes through his window and pins him to the wall, screaming about how she won’t let him kick her out of the Avengers. Thanks to Warbird’s interference, a band of angry Kree gets away with a dangerously powerful energy source.
But never fear! Warbird can still chase them down and retrieve the energy source. Well, she could if she wasn’t tanked. Warbird’s efforts result in her own capture and the near death of her teammate Quicksilver. As a result, Warbird’s paranoia becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. She tries so hard to prove she’s a good Avenger that the Avengers have no choice but to let her go.
10. SUPERMAN’S LITTLE FRIENDS
In Superman/Batman #44, the Man of Steel gets tired of falling prey to kryptonite every other week and resolves to rid Earth of the stuff forever. With Batman’s help, he makes good progress in achieving this goal. But then they encounter a new kind of kryptonite: it’s silver, and it’s been imbued with a magic spell.
Exposure to silver kryptonite — or “Magic K,” as the Flash dubs it — affects Superman the way psychoactive drugs affect the rest of us. He demands to go to North Dakota to partake of brownies he smells baking there, and he throws a tantrum when Red Arrow beats him at a video game. Most notably, Superman hallucinates all of his Justice League teammates as adorable chibis. But the weirdest revelation comes several issues later, when we learn that Superman’s hallucinatory version of the League actually exists: the Lil’ Leaguers are denizens of an alternate universe.
9. WHATEVER IT TAKES
There are many different ways to become a superhero. Patriot (aka Eli Bradley), leader of the Young Avengers, chose drugs. Specifically, he uses MGH, Mutant Growth Hormone, which gives the user temporary superpowers. Desperate to save the world no matter the cost, Eli began taking the drugs but claimed to have gotten his powers from a blood transfusion. When his friends discover the truth, he’s in the middle of a fight with drug-dealing supervillain Mister Hyde. Worse, Patriot’s previous dose of MGH is wearing off, so he steals some from Hyde’s stash.
But while Patriot “prepares for battle,” Hyde is pounding the Young Avengers. Patriot can see only one way to guarantee their safety: he deliberately overdoses on MGH so he’ll have enough power to stop the ‘roided-up Hyde. It works, but now the Young Avengers and the Avengers know Patriot has lied to them since day one.
8. COOKIES AND SCREAM
When the Martian Manhunter battled addiction in the early ’00s, it was not due to any of the usual drugs or chemicals. Rather, it was thanks to a cookie brand called Chocos. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, not realizing the extent to which J’onn has become dependent on his favorite dessert, buy every single Choco in the city. They think watching their teammate sulk over a lack of Chocos will be funny. It is, but not how they intended it to be.
Martian Manhunter, for lack of a better term, hulks out when deprived of his cookies. He goes on a rampage, causing massive property damage. That would be bad enough, but this happens at the exact same time as the Justice League’s benefactor, Maxwell Lord, is trying to convince the U.N. to keep sponsoring the League. Good thing Lord has mind control powers!
7. LET’S DANCE
In the pilot episode of the classic 1960s Batman TV show, the Riddler’s riddles lead Batman and Robin to a swanky discotheque. Batman, being a responsible crime-fighter and role model, orders orange juice. The bartender, being one of the Riddler’s henchmen, slips a little something into the Caped Crusader’s drink. This leads to one of the most iconic scenes in Bat-history, when a not-quite-sober Batman heads out onto the dance floor and Batusi’s the night away.
But this scene has a slightly more serious coda. When he leaves the discotheque, Batman realizes Robin has gone missing. He wants to go after him, but the good police officers of Gotham City can’t allow that. “I’m afraid you’re in no condition to drive,” they tell him before confiscating the Batmobile’s keys. Remember, kids: if Batman’s not good enough to drive on drugs, neither are you.
6. MANY HAPPY RETURNS
Finding out you’re dying is stressful. Some — or even most — people would deal with such devastating news by leaning on their family and friends for support. But Iron Man, in his infinite wisdom, decides to keep this tidbit to himself and tries to drink his troubles away instead. Nope, no psychological problems here.
Tony holds a boisterous birthday party for himself, at which he gets roaring drunk and does party tricks with the extremely dangerous weaponry in his armor. His friend Rhodey, wearing the War Machine armor, tries to stop all this before something disastrous happens. The only people who get hurt, fortunately, are Tony and Rhodey themselves, who wreck half the house as they argue back and forth about whether Rhodey has what it takes to wear the armor. Considering Rhodey wins their fight, we’re guessing he does.
5. CHLOLLIE SHIPPERS REJOICE
Your friends are getting married. What do you get them for a wedding present? If you’re Zatanna, and you’re shopping for Clark Kent and Lois Lane, you give them a magic amnesia-inducing champagne for them to enjoy at their bachelor/bachelorette party. By the time Lois and Clark and their friends — including Green Arrow and Chloe Sullivan — wake up, they’re hung over and in various stages of crisis.
Among the shenanigans, Clark and Chloe wake up in bed together. She’s in a wedding dress; he’s in a fancy suit. They find half a wedding certificate with Chloe’s name on it. What can they do except assume they drunkenly tied the knot? It’s not an illogical conclusion, but fortunately for them, it’s the wrong one. At the end of the episode, Chloe learns she did not marry Clark, but rather Green Arrow. They’re all much happier with this turn of events.
4. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE
Although he’s most famous as Peter Parker’s high school adversary, Eugene “Flash” Thompson more than redeemed himself after graduation. He became a soldier and lost his legs in Iraq. He then went on to become a full-fledged superhero, first as Venom and later as Anti-Venom. But the transition from teen bully to decent adult wasn’t always an easy one.
At one point, Flash became so depressed that he took to drink and ended up driving drunk not once, but twice. The first incident is his own fault, and fortunately he only injures himself in the inevitable crash. The second incident is Green Goblin’s doing. Goblin forces Flash to get drunk, then sticks him behind the wheel of a truck headed straight for a high school.
3. MAXED OUT
Teen Titans, being a children’s cartoon, was probably not allowed to mention drugs explicitly. They could, however, use allegories, and that’s exactly what they did in the episode “Overdrive.” Cyborg installs a new chip, the Maximum 7, to improve his performance both in his professional and personal lives. It may be just a computer chip to us, but Cyborg’s use of it is treated very much like an addiction.
Cyborg becomes increasingly obsessed with how powerful the new chip makes him feel. He diverts an ever-increasing amount of energy into the chip, uncaring of what else he must sacrifice to attain that energy. As a result, Cyborg begins to act more and more like a robot, devoid of emotions and a sense of humor. His misguided efforts at self-improvement lead to a system overload, which forces his friends to remove the Maximum 7 while Cyborg is unconscious.
2. ADVENTURES IN DRUNK-DIALING
Drax the Destroyer has issues. Actually, all of the Guardians of the Galaxy have issues, but it is Drax’s issues in particular that get the team into trouble in the 2014 film. Ronan the Accuser murdered Drax’s entire family, and he is still out there terrorizing people. During a stopover at Knowhere, our favorite angry green man gets sloshed and decides he wants a showdown with Ronan. And he wants this showdown right now.
Drax threatens a hapless communication tech into giving Ronan his exact location, which is the kind of idea that could only possibly sound good after a whole lot of alcohol. Drax may be a storied warrior, but he’s also completely pickled, and Ronan beats him easily. It’s only through Groot’s timely interference that Drax survives for the sequel.
1. “SARD BORKEN”
Superman: American Alien is a retelling of Clark Kent’s pre-Superman years. In the third issue, through a series of mishaps, Clark ends up stranded on Bruce Wayne’s yacht in the middle of Bruce’s 21st birthday party. The guests mistake him for their absentee host, and Clark just goes along with it. Unfortunately, Deathstroke the Terminator is also on board. He has been hired to kill Wayne and spikes “Bruce’s” drink.
While the drug would have killed a normal mortal, Clark Kent is anything but. The drug renders him a little loopy, but he is otherwise unharmed. The only person whose health we need to worry about is Deathstroke, who is a very confused assassin by the time Clark casually flicks him off the yacht with one finger.
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