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Marvel's OFFICIAL timeline of its canon comic universe is... maybe not as important as fans might think, says top editor

Marvel's executive editor Tom Brevoort tells fans who keep worrying about timeline: "It's fiction"

Image credit: Marvel

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How old is Peter Parker? When did the X-Men form? Did Civil War happen under the Bush Administration? These are all questions that have been asked by regular Marvel Comics readers trying to reconcile their favorite mid-30s superheroes with 60+ years of comic history. Recently, one of Marvel's top editors offered some advice for folks trying to keep a timelime in their heads: stop trying.

The question came up in the most recent subtack post by Marvel's Tom Brevoort. Brevoort, who is currently heading up the X-Men relaunch, has been contending with the comic industry's sliding timeline for longer than some fans have been alive to read about it, and offered a helpful breakdown to one concerned fan named Joel Zorba.

"A few years ago," writes Joel, "You talked about the characters' ages. So what would be the current age of the characters, considering there are at least six or seven generations of new mutants nowadays."

"I think trying to nail this stuff down is almost always a mistake," answers Brevoort honestly. "And one that just causes arguments among the fan base. So I think it’s to be avoided."

To be fair, "causing arguments among the fanbase" is pretty much a given for any comic book decision, but we hear what yoou're saying, Tom. And to be fair, the editor did try to set things straight(ish) regarding some ages and a rough timeline, claiming that the modern MU starteed around 15 years ago from whenever the reader is coming in, "give-or-take."

"That is to say," he continues, "the Fantastic Four’s origin always happened about 15 years ago regardless of what year it happens to be. Of the [X-Men], Magneto is by far the oldest, almost double the age of anybody else because his origin has been inexorably linked to a historic event, the Concentration Camps of WWII [...]"

With that out of the way, Brevoort dives into the real confusion behind character ages and, really, one of the biggest issues in modern superhero comic book storytelling.

"But what you’re really asking," Brevoort concludes, "is how can we possibly fit so many stories into such a limited space? And the answer is that it’s fiction, so we can do whatever the hell we like provided that the readership goes along with it."

Fair enough, Tom. But just let us know what this means for the disco craze that saw Dazzler wear sequinned rollerboots for years...

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Grant DeArmitt avatar
Grant DeArmitt: Grant DeArmitt (he/him) likes horror, comics, and the unholy pairing of the two. As Povperses Staff Writer, he crisscroses the pop culture landscape bringing you the news and opinions about the big things (and the next big things). He has written for Nightmare on Film Street and Newsarama, despite their better judgement. He lives in Brooklyn with his partner, Kelsey, and corgi, Legs.
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