How Old Would Comics Characters Be If They Aged Normally? (And What Would They Be Doing Now?)

We begin with Green Lantern Hal Jordan, who first appeared in 1959, which is 58 years ago.  

Well, the first question we have to answer is, how old was he in 1959?

(Bear in mind, that all of this is based on my admittedly incomplete knowledge of the character. I am open to correction.)


I don't know that an exact age was ever given, if it was, I never heard about it.  I always took him for about 30.  The way he was drawn, he didn't look to me like he could be much younger than that.  Plus, while I don't know much about becoming a test pilot, minutes of internet research has led me to believe that one doesn't simply roll out of flight school and become the sort of test pilot that Hal Jordan was shown to be. I had the impression that he'd been in the USAF, so presumably he did at least a minimal tour of duty, and spent sometime establishing himself as a civilian test pilot, so I figure that 30 is a reasonable estimate.

In that case, Hal Jordan would be 88 now.

So, what would he be doing? I like to think he would have had a long, noteworthy career in the Green Lantern Corps and the Justice League of America.  Undoubtedly, he would eventually have been offered a spot in the Guardians; Honor Guard, but it wouldn't surprise me if he turned them down for more active duty.  

I expect he would be retired by now, although I can imagine an older Hal taking a hand in training younger or less experienced Lanterns.  I expect these would be like the children he never had - I just can't see him as the "settling down" type, somehow. Now, he's living somewhere in comfortable solitude, occasionally getting together with Barry and Ollie and maybe some of the others for a beer, and listening as they tell him what their grandkids did.  It's become a custom that when whoever is the current Green Lantern for Sector 2814 is out Earth way, they make it a point to stop by if they can, and fill him in on the latest Corps gossip and scuttlebutt.

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I think people weren't drafted into the air force. So if he was in the USAF he probably volunteered.

All the services can draft when a draft is in effect. The Navy and the Air Force normally don't have to as they have enough volunteers. The Army and the Marines were both drafting when the Army joined me. A guy in funny blue and red pants picked three or four out of my draftee group to be Marines. The Marine Corps is a smaller service so they need fewer people. I don't know about the Korean War, but only 1/3 of the troops in Vietnam were draftees.

Luke Blanchard said:

I think people weren't drafted into the air force, so if he was in the USAF he likely volunteered.

With reference to Hal Jordan, and speaking only of the Silver Age, naturally, the story "Green Lantern's Explosive Week-End", from Green Lantern # 36 (Apr., 1965), relates a G.L. adventure which takes place while Hal Jordan is visiting the parents of an old Air Force buddy, Bill Davis.

The story establishes that Jordan and Davis were best friends in the Air Force and that Bill Davis was killed in the Korean War.  This makes it 99 44/100%  likely that Jordan served as a combat pilot in the Korean War, as well.  (There are permutations which could have Jordan be in the Air Force and be Bill Davis' best pal, but not fight in the Korean War; however, there are just too many "well, maybes" to make any of them plausible.)

Figuring the pipeline for Jordan to graduate college, earn a commission in the Air Force, and complete the entire pipeline to get his wings and qualify as a combat flier, he couldn't have been any less than twenty-five years old when he was shipped to Korea. If we take the latest possible year, 1953, as the time of his service in Korea, then six years later, at the time of his début in Showcase # 22 (Sep.-Oct., 1959), then he would have been thirty-one years old.  

That's the youngest reasonable age he could have been.  More likely, though, he was thirty-two or thirty-three.

Thanks, Commander! I either didn't read or didn't remember "Green Lantern's Explosive Weekend!" I thought Hal's USAF experience was established after the Silver Age, and it's a pleasure to get that erroneous idea corrected.

And your timeline requites very few "well, maybes" and will be hard to poke holes in.

Thank you, sir!

Next up is a fairly easy one.  Kitty "Shadowcat" Pryde first appeared in 1980, and we were told that she was 13 at the time. So, she'd be 50 years old now.

As for what she'd be doing, I expect that, barring the unforeseen, she might well be chipper and healthy and active, although perhaps considering the possibility of transitioning from an active "field" role  to more of an advisory and educational role.  I could easily imagine her being on the staff of the Westchester School, a much-respected teacher. 

As for her personal life, I could imagine her settling down with someone in time, although almost certainly not with Piotr.   That relationship always seemed to me like a crush that a kid might have, the sort that she'd look back on with fond amusement later in life.  I could see her with an adult daughter with whom she had achieved a good relationship after some "rockiness" earlier on. (Having your mom be the teacher could raise some issues for a kid). There might even be a grandchild for Kitty to spoil. 

Here's a question: How old would Franklin Richards be now? And his sister, Valeria? 

ClarkKent_DC said:

Here's a question: How old would Franklin Richards be now? And his sister, Valeria? 

Those are easy enough.

Franklin Richards was born in 1968, so he would turn 50 next year.

Valeria Richards was born in 2002 (although she was conceived in 1983 -- long story), so she'd have her Sweet 16 celebration in 2018.

Captain Comics said:

Valeria Richards was born in 2002 (although she was conceived in 1983 -- long story), so she'd have her Sweet 16 celebration in 2018.

I'm afraid to ask ...!

The Baron said:

As for what she'd be doing, I expect that, barring the unforeseen, she might well be chipper and healthy and active. 

Given the lives they lead I would guess middle-aged superheroes who stick with it are physical and emotional wrecks. Maybe some get out early and become professional celebrities, go into politics etc. Peter Parker has multiple career options.



Luke Blanchard said:

The Baron said:

As for what she'd be doing, I expect that, barring the unforeseen, she might well be chipper and healthy and active, although perhaps considering the possibility of transitioning from an active "field" role  to more of an advisory and educational role. 

Given the lives they lead I would guess middle-aged superheroes who stick with it are physical and emotional wrecks. Maybe some get out early and become professional celebrities, go into politics etc. Peter Parker has multiple career options.

I suppose I am more optimistic than you are, LB.

Characters like Batman really couldn't do what they do for very long. All that swinging around with all your weight on your arms, leaping about rooftops and punching/kicking so much would put tremendous strain on his body. The cartilage in his knees would wear out, he'd cause micro-tears in his tendons (causing tendonosis or -itis), and so forth. And that's not even mentioning the tremendous abuse he suffers: Blows to the head, bullet wounds, knife wounds, falls from heights, and so forth. The odds of a career-ending injury are pretty high from Day One on. I give a really lucky and extraordinarily healthy Bruce Wayne five years at the most.

So the idea of a middle-age superhero is pretty daft. But for the sake of argument (and suspension of disbelief), if they do make it to middle age, they'd better retire and find another line of work. Everything I mentioned gets worse with age, and they'd be naturally slower and less agile, so they'd get hit even more often. I'd think middle-age superheroes, like middle-age cops, should look for desk jobs.

I will note that many characters have extraordinary gifts so that "middle age" could be in their 120s or something. Wolverine leaps to mind, obviously. But even Spider-Man might have a ridiculously long life, and not really feel middle age well into his 60s or so.

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