By Bet­sy Town­er | AARP Bulletin

The Flash, Batman, Superman and Aquaman, sitting on a park bench. A geek art depicting seasoned superheroes at retirement. The piece is called We Were Heroes.

The Flash, Bat­man, Super­man and Aqua­man, sit­ting on a park bench. A geek art depict­ing sea­soned super­heroes at retire­ment. The piece is called We Were Heroes.

Happy 50th, Superheroes!

1963 was a ban­ner year for Amer­i­can cru­saders. “The Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man” com­ic book first hit news­stands in the spring, and the X‑Men and the Avengers debuted that autumn. Here, we remem­ber clas­sic heroes who qual­i­fy for their very own AARP memberships.

Illustration by Donald Soffritti

Illus­tra­tion by Don­ald Soffritti


Debut: Cre­at­ed a year ear­li­er, Mar­vel’s Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man earned his own com­ic book in 1963. Spi­der-Man, aka book­worm teen Peter Park­er, got his unique abil­i­ty when a radioac­tive arach­nid bit him. First fea­tured in “Amaz­ing Fan­ta­sy” No. 15, Spidey was a huge hit with read­ers, and he’s been a Mar­vel A‑lister ever since.


The Avengers

Debut: “The Avengers” No. 1, 1963

Hulk, Ant-Man, Wasp, Thor and Iron Man formed the orig­i­nal band of diverse super­heroes, who con­vene at the cry “Avengers assem­ble!” to stamp out threats not even the might­i­est war­rior can con­quer alone.

The X‑Men

Debut: “The X‑Men” No. 1, 1963

Mar­vel’s band of mutant crime fight­ers has evolved and grown from six in 1963 (Mar­vel Girl, Angel, Pro­fes­sor Xavier, Beast, Cyclops, Ice­man) to legions today. Last year, open­ly gay X‑Man North­star mar­ried his long­time beau—not only the first same-sex mar­riage in comics, but also the first mutant-human one.


Oth­er heroes are well beyond 50 (Super­man, 75!) and prime for encore careers.

Illustration by Donald SoffrittiSuper­man (1938): Return to mild-man­nered report­ing, using your pow­ers to save news­pa­pers everywhere.




Illustration by Donald SoffrittiBat­man (1939): Trade mask and tripped-out bat gear for a low-key life design­ing man caves.



Illustration by Donald SoffrittiWon­der Woman (1941): Enter air­line indus­try and sell invis­i­ble jets. Use slo­gan “We love to fly and it does­n’t show.”



Illustration by Donald SoffrittiCap­tain Amer­i­ca (1941): Head up an Avengers All-Star USO Tour. Fire up troops with your inex­haustible patriotism.


What encore careers should out hero­ic boomers pur­sue? Read what we think at