By Dr. Mike ~ UL Communication Studies Professor
Time is an illusion, comic book time doubly so. In the stories of Marvel Universe, events flow at a strange pace in relation to our own world. For example, when I was starting my comics fandom, Spider-Man was about twice my age. In a few years, I will be twice his current age. That’s not a huge problem for comics. Oh, dedicated fans will spend a lot of time trying to figure out how all of those events fit into Spidey’s or some other character’s fictional life, but these superheroes are images on paper. They age at a rate their creators impose. The live-action Marvel stories face a greater challenge.
Since its official debut in 2008’s Iron Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has more or less paralleled our own times. Narratives may get a little ahead of now or behind now, but except for some deliberate flashbacks, they mostly take place now. That’s an important choice because the actors playing the roles are going through real time.
This is not an argument about aging. If the functionally immortal characters like the new Eternals really catch on for a few decades, there may be some CGI tricks or narrative changes needed to preserve that idea. Some characters like Rocket and Groot or the Hulk do not have to age at all. Human actors may age as gracefully as they like.