When writers create superheroes, do those superheroes age? As in, they grow older, get wrinkles, eventually die, lose some of their powers, etc?

For example, some superheroes, like Superman, Doctor Strange, and Deadpool seem to not age whatsoever. Some other superheroes do, such as Spiderman, Batman, and Robin. Is this is in part to how they were created? Or are we to assume that they never grow old?

  • 3
    1. Which super hero? 2. Ask the author. – Flimzy May 8 '13 at 8:12

Since you wouldn't want comic book heroes to age like their readers, but instead appeal to a new generation of young readers, most comic books use what is a called a Floating Timeline, in which the characters are always the same age:

Any dates given within the comic are not relative to the publishing date of the comic (i.e. "10 years ago" means "10 years before you read this"). This device enables publishing companies to continue to use their characters for as long as they wish without changing them significantly.

This, of course, means that character histories fluctuate over time:

in 1960s comics by Marvel Comics, the character the Thing states he fought in World War II. However, in comics in the 2000s (decade), the Thing states that the idea of him fighting in World War II is ridiculous, as he would have to be much older.


Batman's origin often shows his parents murdered in 1930s or 1940s fashions, while the adult Bruce Wayne clearly lives in the present (this is shown in fashion and technology). In The Return of Bruce Wayne #5, Batman travels in time to shortly after his parents were murdered. The 1930s-style clothes and cars are explained by a character who informs him that "retro is big this year," keeping the iconic image but being vague about the actual year.

Of course, sometimes you want to show the heroes aging. In Batman Beyond, set in futuristic Gotham, Bruce Wayne is an aging retired Batman, mentoring the younger generation. However, this isn't a case of Batman aging, as much as a different continuity that starts with an elderly Batman.

  • It's not just superheroes. James Bond and Adam Dalgliesh clearly age much more slowly than the world around them. – DJClayworth May 6 '13 at 13:20
  • 4
    And also TV characters in sitcoms animated shows. Bart Simpsons has been a 4th grader for over 20 years now. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan May 6 '13 at 13:25
  • 4
    @DJClayworth - On the James Bond front, one of the explanations I've heard (can't remember where) is that "James Bond" is actually the codename of the current 007 agent, not his actual name. – Robotnik May 7 '13 at 5:33
  • Good answer. A better example for the end, though, would be John Constantine from Hellblazer - AFAIK he's the only main character that ages in real time. – Omegacron Feb 13 '15 at 16:31

Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, The Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman among many others were all first published in 1940 or earlier, and they look like they've only gotten younger. So I would say they don't ever age.

Instead, they use a floating timeline. Occasionally years from their past are wiped out and replaced with something else, and sometimes only select events are kept as reality and others are completely retconned. I won't think Superman or Wonder Woman would sell comics if they were an old couple in a nursing home that could barely walk...

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.