Everyone kind of knows the story of Batman. His parents were killed in The Depression outside of a theater. When Bruce grew up, he focused all that rage into battling crime so that no other child would have to suffer through what he had. But the key element is that he was a boy during The Depression. Do a little math, that makes him eighty this year, at the very youngest. Since he first appeared in 1939 though, he’s more like 94. The comics have his son as a young man now and he only stopped being an active hero a decade or so ago. Hmm.
Magneto and Professor X have the same problem, they are inextricably linked to World War II, which makes them around 90 now. Together, they are connected to a large portion of the Marvel universe, similarly confusing the chronology of those heroes and villains.
The official explanation is that these characters are in an alternate universe and the comics have given them what is called an “extended chronology”. The reality is that DC and Marvel recognize what valuable commodities these and other characters are and don’t want to lose them. Apart from the recent X-Men movies, they’ve also been reticent to actually date them, either.
But really, don’t these characters lose some of their power by living on, and on? I would love to see storylines about how Bruce’s son struggles with the legacy, about how he has a family and they fight about how to or if they even should continue the Batman persona. There would be a beautiful irony in a half-dozen Waynes working together.
It would be great to see Xavier die and watch the other, individualistic X-Men decide how to go on and whether it would be together or separate. The children and grandchildren of superheroes could be lots of fun. Watching the old-timers come back or be somehow rejuvenated once in a great while would be refreshing, and a developing fraternity of retired superheroes might be more interesting than all their original stories put together.
If the guys in comics just weren’t so stuck on the same heroes we’ve had for seventy or more years.