When creatives have a hugely successful, decades-long hit, they face a problem: How do they age their characters? For long-running soap operas, the answer involves killing the characters off or having them walk into an ambiguous and off-camera sunset. For example, in 1962 Spider-Man made his first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 as a naïve, idealistic teenager. He’s a nerdy high school kid who suddenly gets great power. But if Marvel were obeying the laws of nature, Spider-Man should now be 77 years old. He’d spend less time web-slinging criminals and more time web-crocheting mittens, and he’d be wall-crawling into bed by 9 p.m. with a warm mug of cocoa.

Read this article “Comic book expert explains how our favorite heroes have evolved over time” at Big Think.