Nothing demonstrates Tony Stark’s evolution of his character more than this film so far. He drinks so much in 1 and 2 and he’s the only one drinking in the first Avengers movie, I expected this would be more of the same. But we learn that his experience fighting the Chitauri has left some psychological scars. His near death experience has wounded him, so he’s not partying as much. In fact, he drinks one glass of red wine in the whole film. So he’s not not drinking…his life has pivoted in ways that is requiring him to focus on more than leisure and that is entirely believable.
Also the film starts with a flashback to his younger days when he was at a New Year’s Eve party drinking a lot and being indiscriminately callous, by which he inadvertently creates the super-villain Aldrich Killian. This flashback also serves to remind the audience that he was that guy years ago so that when we see him again, we recognize that difference.
This doesn’t mean that the film isn’t absolutely drenched in booze. There are numerous bar scenes, most of which Stark is not drinking in…they simply are the setting for a conversation or even just quick shots to demonstrate an idea. We also see that villains are the main intoxicators once again. Killian seems to be paying his henchmen in sex and alcohol because the hideout is flowing with drinks and there are empties everywhere. The only place where there is arguably more alcohol in the film is Tony’s wine cellar, but the distinction is that it is carefully kept, stocked and organized…at Killian’s hideout the effect is mayhem. It’s a never ending party and that starts turning dark eventually
- Opening scene in Iron Man 3 is a flashback to Tony Stark’s partying days at a particular New Years Eve party when he meets a young genius Aldrich Killian and inadvertently makes him a super villain through his drunken disinterest. There are many glasses of champagne and wine to be seen…too many to count so I’m calling this a bar scene and I consider it the same scene when it spills into the hallway and elevator
Booze Tally: bar scene, 1 bottle & 9 glasses champagne, 1 bottle & 3 glasses red wine
- In his female friend’s, Maya Hansen, room we see a couple of glasses of champagne in the background. This is that haphazard placement of alcohol in an environment that represents chaos in life. We see this later in Killian’s HQ reminding us that Stark and Killian aren’t all that different, Stark was the villain in his youth and in a way their roles have almost reversed.
Booze Tally: 2 glasses champagne
- Tony and Rhodey are in a bar/restaurant when Tony suffers a PTSD event. I struggled with this scene because there are many bottles on the table, but I think they are all condiment bottles, especially the ones in the bucket in the foreground. But in the background we can see a pitcher of beer and we know the rest of the customers are having a few cold ones. When Tony leaves the restaurant to have a panic attack in front, there are numerous people with beers in cups. Stark is not drinking.
Booze Tally: bar scene, 1 pitcher of beer, 10 beers
- In this scene we know that Tony isn’t completely dry. Behind him is several massive racks of wine bottles, on the floor is several cases of wine and he has poured himself a glass of red which he drinks as he takes a call from Hogan. The wine collection is as much an investment or status symbol as it is a demonstrable vice (I guarantee he doesn’t have any Barefoot or Yellow Tail in the collection) and it’s clear it no longer drives him as it used to. I had to estimate the number of bottles he had by counting visible racks and the number of rows and columns per rack assuming they were all full. It is clear that the rack isn’t full, but we don’t know how many bottles are in the cases on the floor as you can see some bottles in the boxes, but some might be empty, so if we just do the count for a full rack and assume that the bottles in the cases on the floor could fill the empty spaces he has about 800 bottles in his wine cellar
Booze Tally: 800 bottles of wine, 1 glass of red wine
- Tony has date night prepared for Pepper when she gets home. Despite how this scene turns out, I like them as a couple
Booze Tally: 1 bottle & 2 glasses white wine (Macon Village Chardonnay according to @stormrider27)
- We see our villain, Aldrich Killian, doing what villains do to ruminate on a problem…drink a short glass of bourbon or scotch. Obadiah Stain did the same thing in Iron Man 1. Ivan Vanko drank a whole bottle of Russian Standard. It’s a classic move
Booze Tally: 1 glass brown spirit
- Tony is hiding out after having his house destroyed. He’s on the trail of a mystery and it took him to a small town where a local veteran died in a blaze…Extremis detox is horrible. He’s going to meet the mother of the veteran and, of course, since her son’s death she hangs out at the bar every night. Classic trope, but it’s real enough. This is a bar scene. It’s not fancy drinks; it’s a lot of beer and a couple of shots throughout. Again, Tony is not here for a good time; he does not drink here either. He makes a mess of the place however.
Booze Tally: Bar scene, 2 shots, 8 beers
- The Mandarin is hijacking the TV networks across the country and televising his threats, demands, nebulous philosophy and disturbing video clips. In order to see how widespread is the messaging we get a montage of people watching it…one scene they show is in a bar (lucky me) to demonstrate even people in bars, trying to get away from reality, are being subjected to the Mandarin
Booze Tally: Bar scene
- Pepper has a meeting with Maya Hansen about Killian. It’s a setup. But in order to ease tensions Maya has a drink of something strong. It says, “I’m so vulnerable I need a drink.”
Booze Tally: 1 glass of a brown spirit
- Tony penetrates Killian’s hideout and we get to see what life is like for his henchmen. The rooms are strewn with empty bottles and cans, half naked women are passed out on sofas, every surface is cluttered with mayhem. This is a life that is earned by the brute force money can buy…nothing matters but the plan, everything else is up for grabs. I love to see scenes like this. It is so indicative of what the people who live this way are about, the quick fix, the momentary good feeling… and it’s easy to control people who live this way
Booze Tally: 3 beers, 1 wine bottle
- Tony meets the Mandarin. The actuality of The Mandarin is far less impressive in person. He’s the kind of guy who drinks a lot of cheap beer out of cans. That is definitely a character device. Despite the kinds of people who actually enjoy a good, cold Budweiser out of a can, culturally there is a value judgement created. That’s being used here to delegitimize Trevor Slattery’s power.
Booze Tally: 4 beers
- Here is the gratuitous scene of the woman in a bikini carrying a Cosmopolitan running by. This is part of the life of a henchman. It is brutish and medieval. Violence followed by sex and intoxication and zero discipline. Again, scenes like this give us an idea of what the organization is about and why Iron Man should be able to crush this group without breaking a sweat.
Booze Tally: 4 beers, 1 Cosmopolitan
- I hesitated to call this a bar scene because it’s a Christmas party, but there were so many glasses I couldn’t see clearly I just had to call it essentially a drinking party. Here we see the Vice President is in on the plot. How can we tell? He’s drinking wine on Christmas
Booze Tally: Bar scene; 1 bottle & 3 glasses white wine
That’s it. So much alcohol, but it was all peripheral. It wasn’t Stark this time. I will be very interested in seeing if this holds true in future Avengers movies.