Needs a Better Title. This trope is in effect when a superhero's origin has to be retconned due to changes in science, politics or anything else since they first debuted and Comic-Book Time is in effect. For example, let's say there is a 20 something German superhero introduced in 1985 who previously had to cross the Berlin Wall in order to escape communism. Today, if he is still the same age, that back-story wouldn't work because he would have been a baby (if that) when the Berlin Wall fell. By the way, Alternate Universe stories and adaptations in other mediums do not count. These are changes made in the mainstream universe of their companies.
Examples: Comic Books
Examples: Comic Books
- This is the idea behind Marvel Comics' "Chapter One" graphic novels.
- The 1999 miniseries Spider-Man: Chapter One was an attempt to explicitly give Spider-Man an updated origin. (It was written by John Byrne, who had done the same for Superman in the Superman: The Man of Steel miniseries.) It was a flop, and is not considered canon.
- The Incredible Hulk's Chapter One backstory had all mention of the Cold War removed. Instead of a gamma bomb, it was an experimental gamma laser. Instead of being sabotaged by Dirty Commies, it was a Skrull.
- Iron Man had his origins in Vietnam. Warren Ellis bumped it up to Afghanistan and that's mostly stuck since.
- Fantastic Four
- They gained their powers during a failed space flight and were originally said to be trying to beat the Dirty Commies to the moon. Later retellings of the origin, which became dated as of the real Moon landing in 1969, have said that the ship was intended to test an experimental warp drive instead. Presumably that one won't become dated anytime soon...
- On another note, Reed Richards was originally imagined as a WWII vet. And he looks the same age he did way back in his introduction. This hasn't been updated in modern times so much as quietly ignored.
- Many retcons of Superman's origin tend to try and explain several things that wouldn't hold up today, such as how his rocket made it to Earth and landed in Smallville without the government noticing. Sometimes, it's because there was atmospheric interference. Sometimes, it's because government bureaucracy made them too slow to respond before the Kents came and left. Other minor updates include explaining how the Kents were able to justify Clark without any legal adoption papers or birth certificates, and despite Martha's infertility. One story stated that a horrible snowstorm (which may or may not have been phenomena created by the rocket itself) had kept the Kent farm isolated for the better part of a year, and that Martha just claimed she'd gotten pregnant and given birth in that time.
- In a subtler example, the Martian Manhunter's origin as one member of a present-day, populous Martian race was quietly changed once it became evident in Reallife that no large lifeforms exist on Mars. Later tellings of his origin claim that the Martian Manhunter had been teleported to Earth through time as well as space, and that that the other Martians had died off prior to modern times.
- As of the in-continuity (non-MAX) 2011 series of The Punisher, Frank Castle fought in one of the Iraq Wars rather than in the Vietnam War. His MAX counterpart remains an (aged) Vietnam veteran, however.
- Storm originally lost her parents at a plane crash over Egypt, implied to be the result of aircraft strikes in the Suez Canal Incident. Fifty to sixty years later, Storm is clearly not in her sixties or seventies, so this usually gets updated to whatever Egyptian unrest happened most recently.
- What movie was Batman watching on the night his parents were shot? Since Zorro was a big inspiration for the character, it's usually said to be a Zorro movie, but exactly which version of Zorro has changed over time. Of course, with the advent of retro movie theaters, some writers just suggest it was the original after all, with no weird timeline disruption.
- Subverted for Captain America. He's always a WWII vet, and the story of him being cryogenically frozen until modern times has stopped this from forever becoming outdated. But exactly when did he come out of stasis? It's usually "fifteen years ago" from whatever modern times are.
- Seemingly averted by Magneto. His backstory requires him to be a Holocaust survivor. This has never been updated, and writers have had to invent wildly to explain how he's not a decrepit post-centennial. One idea is that mutants simply have a prolonged lifespan. It's helped that he's actually been de-aged several times in continuity.
- Professor X's backstory involves him as a Korean War vet, and, in another aversion, this has never been updated. Technically, he dies in a 2012 story (he does comes back, but not to his original body), meaning he could have been as young as his 70s; arguably he was never too implausibly old. Bear in mind he was played by an actor who is famously Older Than They Look.
- Kim Newman's short story "Coastal City" is about a comic book character almost, but not quite, realising that his backstory keeps changing on him. For instance, he's always a war veteran, but which war has changed with the times.
- The Simpsons attempted this in the episode "That '90s Show", which first aired in 2008 and tried to change the backstory of the series by updating the time frame when Homer and Marge were dating from the 1970s to the 1990s. It wasn't well-received, and the old backstory is still depicted in later episodes despite becoming increasingly outdated.
Hello, Unknown Troper. You'll need to get known to lend a hand here.