Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

I'm back! And reading! And maybe even blogging! No promises!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Random Pet Peeve

Did you ever notice how almost every time you have immortal or ageless male and female characters, the men are pretty much perpetually late thirties/forties (i.e. Wolverine, Nick Fury) while women usually appear to be physically in their late twenties at the oldest? (Black Widow or Mystique for example).

The older I get, the more that annoys me.

33 Comments:

  • At October 19, 2008 7:15 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Tell me about it. I'm beginning to think that Amanda Waller is the only woman in comics who is allowed to grow up.

     
  • At October 19, 2008 10:58 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    Black Widow isn't ageless, she's just got that weird comics sliding time scale thing going...

    But if you're going to be peeved by that, why not be annoyed that every dark, broody vampire/Immortal but one is a white dude?

     
  • At October 19, 2008 11:48 AM, OpenID joysweeper said…

    It's that double standard. There are almost never women who look older, because then they couldn't be hot. Men can be non-hot or old-hot, but if a woman doesn't look young, she's not attractive enough to be in comics. Or TV and movies, usually. There are exceptions, but they're depressingly few.

    In the real world as men age they get dignity; as women age they either have to work to "defy aging" or they're relegated to the background.

     
  • At October 19, 2008 12:04 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Lurker: Wasn't Natasha also dosed with some sort of Infinity Formula-esque thing?

    Ah, yes. Version of the Super Soldier serum allowing her to remain in "peak condition":

    http://www.marvel.com/universe/Black_Widow_(Natasha_Romanova)

    So yeah, she counts as "ageless". Interesting how her peak condition is ten years younger than the comparative men.

     
  • At October 19, 2008 12:06 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    (Addendum)

    As for the second part of your question, I never said I WASN'T peeved by that. But that's not the subject of this post. Thank you.

     
  • At October 19, 2008 2:20 PM, Blogger x-man75 said…

    Yeah, I can see your point, except for the Mystique thing. If I was a shapeshifter(male or female), I think I'd rather have myself looking about 20 something as opposed to 60 something!

     
  • At October 19, 2008 2:49 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Honestly, if I were a shapeshifter, I'd rather look 35. But that's just me. :-)

    I'm tweaky about Mystique since I'm not sure if the blue skinned form is her "real" form or not.

    If it IS, my point stands for her. If it's not, it doesn't, but it isn't countered until we see an older "real" form. :-)

     
  • At October 19, 2008 3:56 PM, Blogger Elayne said…

    Yeah, it annoys me in the movies as well, with the leading guys up to their 60's and the women mostly under 40. It's almost like a dirty old man kinda thing going. Happens in real life too a lot -- did you see Ron Wood's new bit of stuff? I mean, really. Heaven forfend we have older (famous) women dating younger (boy-toy) men!

     
  • At October 19, 2008 5:27 PM, Blogger x-man75 said…

    You know, I never really gave it much thought, but since Mystique was born over 100 years old, I can't imagine her being born with blue skin and yellow eyes. Imagine what the people back in the day would have done to such a "demon baby"...

    However, I can recall Mystique repeatedly stating that she feels more comfortable in her true form(which she considers her blue form). So who knows with her... I can see I'll be whipping out some of my older Mystique comics to try to figure this out...

    Quick question, what age would you peg Selene(from the Hellfire Club) at? I could see her in her thirties, but I could be off.

     
  • At October 19, 2008 5:34 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I'm not really familiar with the character, so I can only go off Marvel.com.

    Honestly I'd probably peg her at late twenties like most of the rest. (At least going by her picture here). Though I can imagine that depends on the artist.

    Some artists are better with subtle touches of age than others, I admit.

    What I'd really like to see is a female version of Nick Fury or Wolverine. And I'm not counting X-23 there. I'd like to see a woman, ageless or not, in her late thirties/early forties with graying hair, crows feet, disheveled, foul-mouthed and cigar chomping. (Basically what I hope to be in ten/fifteen years. :-))

    If there were a few more of THOSE, I'd be far more willing to give ladies like Selene the benefit of the doubt. :-)

     
  • At October 19, 2008 6:03 PM, Blogger menshevik said…

    A bit of it would seem to be subjective personal impression, and the blue skin does not help, but to me Mystique looked and "felt" like a woman at least in her thirties or forties. (Frame of reference: Cameron Diaz is in her thirties, Sandra Bullock in her forties, and to me both appear younger than Mystique to me).
    But then I remember her since the 1970s, when she also had that Raven Darkholme cover ID in the Pentagon (pink skin, black hair), and it stood to reason that someone in that kind of senior position would not be in her twenties. And at least in the 1970s and 1980s she could look quite old, especially when she was exhausted.
    Looking at others of the "ageless/immortal" crowd, I'd say Marvel's Enchantress looked like a thirty-something - at least when drawn by her creator Jack Kirby. Agatha Harkness, who may be immortal for all I know of course looks like in her eighties, but then she belongs to the immortal old coot class (along with the Ancient One and Aged Genghis). ;-) Moira MacTaggert, on the other hand, looked a little too young for her supposed age.

     
  • At October 19, 2008 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I can only guess that it would have to do with early Hollywood. How the leading men were in their late thirties, early forties.
    Good for the men, bad for the women. There are a lot of actresses who were hot in the '80s and '90s who are now unemployed --for the most part. And many of those women look better now, than their former girlish appearance.
    WM

     
  • At October 19, 2008 7:21 PM, Blogger x-man75 said…

    If I could find this foul mouth, cigar chomping woman in her late thirties, I think I'd propose to her on the spot:-) Anyway... I kind of agree with Menshevik in that it is really kind of hard to determine the age of Mystique due to the blue skin. She's definitly older looking then Nocturne(who has blue skin), but Mystique agewise could be anywhere between her 20's and 30's or even older, depending on the artist.

    Back to Selene though, she gets old if she isn't eating other people's lifeforces. So, I've seen her as pretty young as well as quite old.

     
  • At October 19, 2008 7:55 PM, Blogger Hale of Angelthorne said…

    I look pretty young but I'm just backdated, yeah...

     
  • At October 19, 2008 8:22 PM, Blogger Mr. Bretterson said…

    Isabelle Huppert is in her fifties and if you ask me would make a great Mystique... or any general movie spy or villainess.

     
  • At October 19, 2008 9:25 PM, Blogger Duskdog said…

    I've noticed it and it annoys me, too. Regardless of whether or not people agree with the specific examples you mentioned (they're just examples of a widespread phenomenon, not a be all and end all list!), I think your point still stands.

    I'd also argue that being portrayed as in her 30s isn't old enough to make it even! Most of the immortal men I can think of definitely look 50s-ish or older to me, and they would still look like creepy old men next to women like Selene and the Enchantress.

    Hmm. Can we turn it around and see if anyone can think of any examples of immortal/long-lived men who look young? It doesn't count if they're officially immortal but haven't actually had a chance to get old yet.

     
  • At October 19, 2008 9:43 PM, Blogger x-man75 said…

    Interesting point Duskdog... I guess you can't count a God like Thor right...

    There was a time when Superboy coundn't age(I think they fixed that though).

    Cannonball was/is a highlord or something, meaning he is immortal...

    That's all I can think of off hand...

     
  • At October 19, 2008 11:27 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    Here's one everyone kind of bypasses: Ben Grimm.

    Granted, he spends 99% of his time in his Thing form. But even before that he's been shown flying a WWII mission with Sgt. Fury and yet he's never shown older than about 33. He looks much younger than Reed but they supposedly went to college together. And yet they've never given any explanation like the Infinity Formula.

     
  • At October 19, 2008 11:27 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Duskdog: It's a very short list at least that I can think of...

    I think JSA's Sand is pretty much permanently in his early-mid twenties. But pretty much every other JSA hero that's unaging (Alan, Jay, Ted) are quite a bit older-looking. Carter looks possibly mid-to-late thirties to me though.

    Captain America probably counts as well. But they seem to be exceptions compared to most others.

     
  • At October 19, 2008 11:29 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    notintheface:

    Probably true, but the fact that he's pretty much a rock monster 99% of the time kind of negates that.

    I think essentially an unspoken requirement to be an exception is that the character kind of has to LOOK like that regularly. Like most of the women seem to.

     
  • At October 19, 2008 11:50 PM, Blogger x-man75 said…

    Another guy I just remembered would be Darwin, from Deadly Genesis/X-Factor. I'm sure he's in his early twenties and since his ability is to perpetually evolve, I'd guess he'd be immune to aging.

    Mr. Immortal from the GLA... Since he can't die, would he be able to age?

    I'm also pretty sure that Wonder Man can't age due to his Ionic body composition.

    Wow, this post really took on a life of it's own! I just started up a blog of my own, and would love to get interesting discussions like this one going on there(I'm mainly on a Nightwing kick over at my blog)... Anyway, I just wanted to say it's great to be able to speak to others who are passionate and knowledgable about comic books, like the folks here are. Once again, if I haven't said it before, AWESOME site, Kalinara!

     
  • At October 20, 2008 3:29 AM, Blogger menshevik said…

    Part of the problem is that it can be difficult to correlate physical appearance and age. These days in real life women (and men) in their forties can look as if they were in their twenties and will at least try to do so because youth is at a high premium. And if you have the more stylized, simplified appearance of comics drawings, it becomes even harder to tell the difference between someone in their 40s and their 20s.
    If you look at comics from the 1960s, when writers and artists like Lee, Kirby and Ditko still by and large applied the standards of the 1940s and 1950s, quite a few of Marvel's young women appeared older than the age they were written as. Janet Van Dyne did not look as if she was a borderline minor and Sue Storm and Betty Brant also looked much more mature than they behaved.

     
  • At October 20, 2008 4:30 AM, Blogger menshevik said…

    X-Man75 -
    don't see why gods wouldn't count, especially as Duskdog used a couple of goddesses (Enchantress - Asgardian, Selene - goddess at least in her own estimation) as reference. Also, it is among goddesses that you get some of the rare examples of older-looking females, such as matronly Frigga and even older-looking Granny Goodness. I think the problem is not that there aren't young-looking male immortals (Thor, Balder, Fandral, Starfox, Hercules (note how young he looks when he shaves), Mr. Immortal, Child) but that male immortals who appear older (Hogun, Volstagg, Odin, Zeus (Marvel and DC version)) are much more common than female ones.

    Elayne -
    well, these days it probably has become more acceptable for women to date or even live with men appreciably their junior, vide Demi Moore, Susan Sarandon and Madonna.

     
  • At October 20, 2008 4:49 AM, Blogger menshevik said…

    Part of the question is of course by what outward marks we recognize age. A lot of it would be related to hair. Greying hair, white temples etc. do make people look older - vide Reed Richards and co., but also Countes Valentina. Problems can arise when you get people who have silvery hair because of a genetic mutation (Magneto and his son Quicksilver, Clea) or because they dye their hair that way or the hair changed its colour due to an outside event (in her first appearances Rogue was thought to be a lot older than she was due to the white strains in her hair). On the other hand, in real life both men and women dye their hair to disguise the grey.

    (An interesting question here: Does Nick Fury dye his temples grey? IIRC, he first got the Infinity Formula during WW2, when he was still in his early thirties - IIRC he was born between 1910 and 1914 (his father was killed in WW1), which would have made him 30-34 years old on D-Day. So maybe after the war Nick started to dye his temples to give the appearance that he was aging along with other WW2 veterans?)
    Also, facial hair makes a man look older, sometimes older than he is. I remember how struck I was by how much younger Marvel's Hercules looked without his full beard (and for a time he did shave) and the same is probably also true of Wolverine. Logan does not look all that different from the time he was first seen with or without his mask, and at that time writers and artists were still working on the assumption that he was a teenager.

     
  • At October 20, 2008 5:00 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At October 20, 2008 5:13 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I think actually Nick is younger than that. Joseph fought in WWI but didn't die there as I recall. Nick didn't even know his father had fought when he was told in the flashback issue about the whole Red Baron fight. Moreover, he has a step-mother and two younger half-siblings Jake and Dawn, who are 20 and 16 respectively in the Howling Commandos issue where they're introduced.

    I believe (though I have to get it out to check) that the flashback issue establishes Nick being born after the war. Marvel's website is fairly useless in this matter, but estimates also a late 1910s birth. So he'd probably have been closer to 25-30.

    One thing though is that for a while he needed fairly regular doses of the formula and without it, I believe at one point in the late 40s he did age VERY rapidly to the point of looking very old.

    I'm not sure if that's still in continuity though, as most comics dealing with the formula don't indicate a need to keep replenishing anymore. If it IS in continuity though, it explains the graying fairly easily.

    Though honestly, I really like the idea of dyed temples. :-) He seems like the sort of fellow who totally WOULD do that.

     
  • At October 20, 2008 1:35 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    Do Mon-El or the Phantom Zoners count?

     
  • At October 20, 2008 2:24 PM, Anonymous Dan Coyle said…

    Depending on the artist, Black Widow sometimes looks like she's forty. I thought J.G. Jones drew her at that age in the Grayson mini.

    IIRC the Widow's never had an Infinity formula, but it's been implied in the first Morgan miniseries (BOOOO!) whatever the Soviets did to her slowed down her aging considerably. I think it could be argued that whatever was used on Bucky was used on her to a lesser extent.

     
  • At October 20, 2008 3:02 PM, Blogger x-man75 said…

    All I could find on Nick Fury's age/birth was that he was born in the late 1910's in Hell's Kitchen, and that his old man was a pilot during WW1(this came from the Official Marvel Handbook, Fury's entry is like 4 pages long!!!).

    It also said that Nick is appearently a decendent of one of the Phantom Rider's... Huh??? Since when???

     
  • At October 20, 2008 4:19 PM, Anonymous Dan Coyle said…

    Since Bendis felt the need to tie his new Mary Sues to Marvel history without really thinking that through (ie, why would Calvin Zabo's daughter have terraforming powers? Huh?)

    I like the Earth X argument, that Nick Fury was replaced by an LMD convinced utterly he was the real Fury a long time ago.

     
  • At October 20, 2008 6:09 PM, Blogger x-man75 said…

    Dan: Whenever I hear the terms "Bendis" and "Marvel History" in the same sentence, I can't help but to laugh hysterically, followed by uncontrollable sobbing. I don't think he could care less about anything any prior writer ever wrote. Sorry about getting off topic there...

     
  • At October 21, 2008 2:47 AM, Blogger Brainfreeze said…

    I think Black Widow looks more mid-to-late thirties, honestly. But then she's never been portrayed as particularly girlish.

     
  • At October 21, 2008 3:34 AM, Blogger x-man75 said…

    Brainfreeze: I really think it depends on the artist. The Black Widow I remember from the 1990's seemed to be conceivably in her thirties, but in the most recent issue of Captain America(#43) she sure looks to be in her twenties...

     

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home