Given the historical framework laid out in preceding sections, it is possible to determine the ages of a great many DC characters. Some have been explicitly presented in stories; others require more deduction, but the logic should be fairly clear with the main Chronology as reference. The details are laid out in the table linked above and below. Keep in mind, though: even with accurate dating, not all of these people have aged naturally! Extraordinary longevity and uncanny youthfulness are downright common in the DC Universe.
(In fact, it’s sometimes necessary to distinguish among three different types of age: a character’s chronological age (years on the calendar), biological age (years of wear on the body), and experiential age (years lived through and remembered). For most characters, of course, all of these are identical, but for some (e.g., Oliver (Green Arrow) Queen) all three are different. When necessary, I’ll distinguish one or more of them with a superscript “c”, “b”, or “e”.)
A few guiding principles should be made clear: I’ve tried to limit this list to significant 20th-century characters (for whom age information can be determined, naturally), disregarding immortals and supernatural beings. Everyone is assumed to be alive unless evidence of death has been published. In the absence of specific contrary evidence, I’ve also assumed that people typically graduate from high school at age 18, and from college at age 22. Precise birthdates, unless cited from specific post-Crisis evidence, are derived from the dates given by E. Nelson Bridwell in the 1976 Super DC Calendar (and thus color-coded and marked with an asterisk*, as they may be more subject to revision).
When assessing age-related evidence, I place greatest weight upon story information that is:
• Derived from the character’s origin, and/or
• Written by the character’s original or canonically definitive creator(s), and/or
• Consistent with the preponderance of other post-Crisis evidence.
Thus, for example, Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One carries greater weight than other Batman stories, and Tim Drake’s age of 13 as established in “A Lonely Place of Dying” trumps later contradictory evidence. That said, when a date is in doubt, I try to resolve ambiguities by making the character as young as logically possible. Hence a few entries simply establish a “limit” for characters who could in fact be older. (The symbol “≤” is used to indicate that a birthdate is no later than the given year; the symbol “≥” is used to indicate that a character is no younger than the given age.)
Finally, it’s unavoidable that some characters can be safely pegged to “real time,” while others are lodged in a compressed “sliding” timeline, meaning (bizarrely) that their “present” age may stay relatively constant while their birthdates move. (As in other sections, the distinction will be indicated with the usual black bar at the left.) In light of this, I’ve included a “double” column indicating living characters’ current ages as of either January 1, 2010 or January 1, “Year 22”… although, for now, those remain simultaneous points.
Finally, there is a column for known deceased characters, indicating age at and date of death. I hope the individual “notes and references” will help clarify any remaining ambiguities.
DC seems to want to “freeze” many characters around the age they were several years ago, in stories c. the late ’90s… but events have moved on so much that it’s just not plausible. Although the exact extent of time passage since then is undeniably arguable, I’m fairly confident of my framework. Some of these characters may appear to be older than some readers think they “should” be (although many are actually somewhat younger than in the previous version of this Chronology). I can only reiterate that my reckoning is derived from the published comics: take up any inconcistencies with DC!
As an overview: the surviving Golden Age characters are now hitting their 90s (though mostly around 60 biologically); the Silver Age Justice Leagers are mostly in their 40s; and their sidekicks, the original Titans, are entering their 30s. (And I note incidentally that by this point all of the current Teen Titans, Tim Drake’s generation, should be thoroughly finished with high school. Suffice it to say, there’s a very strong case that if DC wants to continue to have a slate of characters in the high-school age bracket, it’s well past time they create some new ones.)
I think the diverse age spectrum of DC’s characters is an intrinsic aspect of having a shared reality that, when looked at in context, opens up the potential for some fascinating stories. Let’s hope we see some of that potential explored by DC creators in the days and years to come!