Almost every superhero is ancient. The way of things is that the sliding timescale will keep them around the age they were when they were introduced forever. While Tim Drake was around 14 when he was introduced in 1989, he’s still only around 18 today, when he should be closer to 45.
This list isn’t about characters who should be old (because that would include everyone), but rather DC heroes who are acknowledged in their universe to be 50 or older. Everyone on this list exists as proof that being older doesn’t get in the way of being a hero, or saving the world.
10 CARTER HALL
Don’t let his stunning good looks fool you. Up until recently, Carter Hall was a constantly reincarnating being with origins dating back to ancient Egypt, where he was Prince Khufu, locked in a battle with the priest Hath-Set. This puts him at thousands of years old, outdoing most of the people on this list.
That’s nothing compared to his current origin, which sets Carter up as a person who’s been reincarnating across planets and time for further back than he can remember. It folds in his heritage as a Thanagarian with his time as an Earthling, making him far older than anyone could ever have imagined.
9 CAPTAIN COMET
Adam Blake was a character with roots dating back to the early 50s. He made various appearances throughout the decades, before finally getting a role in the L.E.G.I.O.N. comics for a few years in the 90s, then eventually making a home at a place called Hardcore Station.
What made Comet’s comics stand out was that they seemed to acknowledge his ageing, until he was eventually caught by the supervillain Lady Styx during the storyline 52. With no escape, his mind eventually separated from his body and allowed it to die, finding a new body that was in it’s early 20s.
8 MARTIAN MANHUNTER
J’onn’s origin story changes quite frequently. Even now, it appears he’s getting a new one courtesy of a Rebirth maxi-series. During the Pre New-52 era, it was believed that J’onn was born hundreds of millions of years ago, and was transported to Earth via a device that displaced J’onn not merely through space, but time as well.
That wouldn’t really make J’onn millions of years old, though. However, in some comics, Dr. Erdel transported J’onn to Earth decades prior to the League’s existence, and the martian remained quiet until he was forced to intervene with his unique skills and abilities to help his new home.
After Diana was killed as Wonder Woman, she was resurrected as the goddess of truth. During that time, her mother Hippolyta not only served with the JLA, but she went back in time and worked alongside the Justice Society in the 1940s.
Of course, this version of Hippolyta is the same one from thousands of years ago, before Themyscira was magically sealed off to all but the Amazons. So, for a time, both super-teams got to work with a Wonder Woman that was actually ageless and had spent thousands of years training to become the best warrior possible.
6 ALAN SCOTT
When Alan Scott ran across a Lantern that granted first death, then life, then power... no one seemed to mention that it would also grant agelessness. The last major member of the Elder Statesmen of the Justice Society, Alan Scott fought for freedom alongside all the other heroes of his era for a solid decade before going away.
Nonetheless, he was able to resurface in the 90s without missing a beat. In his case, it was the power of the Starheart that kept him young. His powers vary wildly, but at their height he appears to be ageless, and able to contain the magic of the Starheart inside himself.
5 KINGDOM COME SUPERMAN
The entire point of the Kingdom Come arc is that it takes place long after the relevance of the original, Silver Age superheroes. Superman is convinced to stop helping the Earth after they support Magog for his bloodthirsty habit of killing heroes, but then years beyond that, Superman decides to make a return.
Despite being considerably older and greyer than he once was, this version of Superman actually appears to be even stronger than he was before. He maintained all of his old power, but loses his weakness to Kryptonite altogether. He only maintains a weakness to magic, which is the only reason why a brainwashed Captain Marvel even stands a chance against him.
When the Justice Society reformed in the late 90s, they gathered together as many of the original members as possible, including Ted Grant. Ted Grant was a heavyweight boxer who got into the costumed world to deal with some problems which dragged him into the criminal underworld, but didn’t let that stop him from doing more after he’d cleared his name.
He joined the Justice Society and became one of their longest serving members. But since the Justice Society served in the early 40s on into the late 50s, it’s a little odd that he’s managed to work with them for so long. The JSA series of the 2000s explained that the character had maintained his youth because he literally had nine different lives, extending his years far beyond what they should have been.
3 JAY GARRICK
Much like every other member of the Justice Society, Jay Garrick life began in the early 1940s. He was tossed into action alongside the other members and worked to protect America from supervillains.
Eventually, he was forced to retire because of the House of Un-American Activities Committee, refusing to reveal his identity. Still, he returned decades later when the team resurfaced. At this point, he would easily be in his nineties, but the Speed Force has kept him looking and feeling like a fit man in his early fifties at the oldest.
2 PHANTOM STRANGER
The Phantom Stranger’s origin has varied so wildly that no-one knows who he truly is. His origins date very, very far back, though: the most impossible story being that he was someone stuck in a time loop connecting the very end of the universe with the very beginning.
While these tales vary (as they always do in comics), they all have a single thing in common: every one of them mean he’s ancient, placing him at no less than several thousand years old.
The Spectre’s host can range in terms of ages. After Gotham Central, Crispus Atticks was murdered and became the newest host to the Spectre’s powers. Before that he was, ever so briefly, Hal Jordan, whose soul was deemed worthy enough to attain redemption by working with the Spectre to bring vengeance.
Before that, he was Jim Corrigan, who seemed to have been the Spectre for decades, even working alongside the Justice Society. Even setting all of that aside, though, the Spectre himself is the vengeance of a deity taken physical form. He’s been around for billions of years, and will continue on long after others on this list are gone.