The recent events in Marvel’s latest crossover, Avengers Standoff, have seen our beloved hero, Captain America, revert back to his youthful self after having the Super Soldier Serum drained from his body and his “real age” catching up to him. While it’s great to see Steve back in the wrinkle-free zone, it makes me wonder just how old our Star Spangled Avenger actually is.
The dreadful Remender run on the book would have us believe that Steve Rogers is in his mid 90’s, and according to that story arc it was the Super Soldier Serum coursing through Steve’s body that was keeping him young all these years. Let me explain.
In a nutshell, Steve fights a guy named the Iron Nail who has the ability to drain the power out of people’s blood. What power is normally held in the blood stream, I don’t know, but if I were to say this character was created specifically to battle Cap, well, I wouldn’t be wrong. Anyway, the Nail drains Steve’s body of all its Super Soldier Serum, leaving him a shriveled old man who is no longer able to carry on as Captain America.
Let’s start with our first question- does the serum keep Steve young?
Well, this is an interesting theory- if the Super Soldier Serum turned Rogers into the peak of human perfection, than one could argue that, yes, it does indeed keep him from aging. That’s not to say that he would never die, but that his aging process would be slower than that of a normal human. While this is never really explored prior to Remender’s run on the book, it is technically possible.
So if we take this idea as fact, once the serum is removed, Steve would start to age normally again. But instead, the book tells us that he instead rapidly ages to his “real” age of 90 plus years old. And while it’s true that if this were a normal world Steve Rogers would be an old man, and yes, chronologically he’s in his 90’s but physically 94 years old just doesn’t make sense.
If Steve was 21 when he became Captain America in 1941 (according to the books he was born July 4th, 1920), then when he was frozen in the ice in 1945 it would make him 25 years old. Steve spent years in suspended animation and we know that if your body is frozen in ice it won’t age at all, which is why food is stored in freezers and mammoths are stored in glaciers. Both will stay fresh until they are needed for dinner or to wreak havoc on small towns. This explains why, when the Avengers find Steve floating in ice back in 1964, he is the exact same age as he was during World War II.
This is where things can get a little tricky. Despite the fact that Marvel comics have been around since the 60’s, to accommodate the unaging nature of it’s characters, it has been established that it has been roughly 10 years since the Fantastic Four first took flight and kickstarted the entire Marvel U. Events are constantly changing in order to keep characters from being 70 years old. For example, Peter Parker became Spider-Man when he was 15 years old back in 1962, but he is only about 25 years old in modern comics instead of 69. To make things simple, let’s say that for every 10 years in our time, the Marvel Universe only ages 2 years.
Following that same internal logic, if 25 year old Steve was thawed out 10 years ago, that would put him at roughly 35 at the time he entered Remender’s storyline. This is in line with everything we’ve seen from Rogers in recent comics leading up to the Dimension Z arc. Now to make thing even more complicated, it is established that Zolandia, the dark pocket dimension ruled by Arnim Zola and his army of genetic monsters, has it’s own timestream. It is explained that while Steve only spent a short time there, it equated to 12 years in Zolandia time, meaning that by the time Steve returned to the normal universe, he was about 47 years old.
The events of the Iron Nail story happen shortly after this, and that is when we see Steve returned to his rightful age of 94, but as we just laid out here, that number couldn’t possibly be correct. At the most, Captain America should have been about 5o.
Now fast-forward to today: Steve Rogers was just returned to his youth by the all-powerful Kobik and he is primed and ready to pick up his shield once again. But just what age did Kobik return him to? He looks like a 30-something Steve in that last panel, which means that Kobik could have reverted him back to his age before the time he spent in Zolandia, or, if we continue to believe that the Super Soldier Serum is keeping him young, he could simply look 30 but in fact be turned back into a 47 year old.
I suppose the truth could be something far more simple- in a comic book universe where time, space, and death really hold no meaning, it doesn’t matter. Like Spider-Man, Ironman, and the rest of the Marvel Universe, Captain America is only as old as he needs to be to tell the story, and it may be impossible to put an exact number to the question “How old is Steve Rogers?” But, maybe, as long as we have stories to read, and a hero to rally behind, we shouldn’t care.