I came to realize that there are two recent films (probably more) which contain Age of in their subtitle:

Avengers: Age of Ultron and Tranformers: Age of Extinction

The thing about these titles, is that in both of them, Age of provides very little semantic content. It's not really the dawn of a new age because (spoiler) Ultron is defeated and (spoiler) the humans and Autobots aren't extinct.

So the prefix is really just a way to make the title more epic sounding. Avengers: Ultron and Transformers: Extinction just don't cut it.

Contrast this to the game series Age of Empires where at least the age part makes some sense.

There is also Warhammer: Age of Sigmar which frankly, I only know about because of the existence of the tag. But it adds to the pattern.

So, where does this common SFF trope come from?

  • 4
    Age of epic popcorn consumers: 13 to 19. Dec 1, 2015 at 15:33
  • i think you need to specify titles of sci-fi/fantasy works because otherwise the history could be off topic imo. though i think this whole question may be too broad/offtopic
    – Himarm
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:35
  • 1
    Here's a fairly comprehensive list of works that use this title trope: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AgeOfTitles
    – Moogle
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:40
  • @Himarm concrete, answerable questions about science fiction tropes were deemed on topic on meta (even of those tropes originated elsewhere) meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/4948/…
    – KutuluMike
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:43
  • 1
    @MikeEdenfield originally the question was just for the history of age of in literature, but the history of age of in literature could be different then the history of "Age of" the trope in sci-fi/fantasy, so it needed that direction in the question. imo
    – Himarm
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


The prefix, in general

Voltaire wrote The Age of Louis XIV, published posthumously in 1781. This seems to be the first work with the epic prefix "The Age of". This is, of course, non-fiction but with the correct context. (Reverand Richard Hurd's Moral and Political Dialogues was first published in 1771 and had a section titled "On the age of Queen Elizabeth", but this was a section title as opposed to the overall book title.)

Thomas Paine's famous The Age of Reason followed soon after, in 1794.

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In regards to fiction, Thomas Beck wrote The Age of Frivolity: A Poem in 1820 and George Lunt wrote The Age of Gold and Other Poems in 1843. There were also several books in the 1880s and 1890s attempting to tie Norse mythology to geological and astronomical events, all titled The Age of Ragnarok.

By the mid-to-late 1800s, a great many books had "The Age of" prefix. It was quite fashionable at this point to use it in titles of non-fiction, fictional prose, and fictional poetry. 1920 saw the famous The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, for example.

The prefix, in SFF

Now, as for science fiction and fantasy, the "age of" prefix doesn't seem to have enjoyed popularity until the 1980s. The catalyst could have been the intense interest in "The Age of Aquarius" in the New Age movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

By the 1990s, we had these developments:

  • The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (began in 1990) speaks frequently of "the age of Legends"; it's not the title of a book, but given the influence of this particular series, and since we are trying to chart the history of the prefix, I feel it should be included

  • Horror master Clive Barker wrote The Age of Desire in 1994

  • Marvel published the crossover comic series Age of Apocalypse in 1995-1996

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Continuing with comics:

  • In 2013, Marvel launched the Age of Ultron crossover series. Whedon's Avengers film "borrows" the title of this series, but not the plot. (Thanks to @CreationEdge and @Gorchestopher on this one!)
  • 1
    @ThePopMachine : Done; thanks.
    – Praxis
    Dec 1, 2015 at 16:05
  • Age of Apocalypse is basically the reason for this in the mentioned movies above. Dec 1, 2015 at 16:08
  • 1
    Clive Barker is a brilliant artist and master of his craft.
    – corsiKa
    Dec 1, 2015 at 19:32

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