The timeline that exists within the Marvel Universe is one that requires frequent maintenance to keep things flowing smoothly. By utilizing a sliding timescale, the publisher quantifies the passage of time in a compressed manner. That means characters such as Reed Richards – a man of at least 40 years old when he first debuted in the 1960s – isn’t actually 100+ years old today.
It also means certain characters’ origin stories that are tied to real-world events, such as Iron Man and the Vietnam War, are periodically reassigned to modern events, such as the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.
In fact, Marvel just recently deployed one of these soft resets to its timeline this past January, in Marvel Two-In-One #2. Written by Chip Zdarsky and illustrated by Jim Cheung, John Dell and Walden Wong, the issue placed Ben Grimm (The Thing) and Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic) in college in 1998. By that logic, it would mean the accident that granted them their extraordinary abilities took place in approximately 2001, and that the present-day Marvel Universe is now 17 years old.
Likewise, in Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s Captain America #695 (published in November 2017), another solid timestamp was established when it was revealed that Steve Rogers was thawed from the ice he’d been trapped in since World War II 10 years ago. Now, according to Cap himself in the preview for next week’s Avengers #1, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness, we now have even more evidence to support the current status of Marvel’s ever-changing sliding timescale.
While grabbing a drink with his fellow Avengers Tony Stark and Thor Odinson, Steve makes a comment that he was “trapped in ice for the first 40 Super Bowls.” Super Bowl XL, of course, saw the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Seattle Seahawks on February 5, 2006. Taking both that and Cap’s statement into consideration, he had to have been thawed anywhere between Feb. 6, 2006 and Feb. 3, 2007 (Super Bowl XLI was on Feb. 4 that year).
Admittedly, it’s hardly a major development – at least in the grand scheme of things. Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating look at how much consideration the publisher has put into this particular detail, and a helpful bit of information to keep in your back pocket if you’re a Marvel continuity enthusiast.
Avengers #1, by Jason Aaron, Ed McGuiness, Mark Morales, David Curiel and Cory Petit, goes on sale May 2.