Of late, Brian Bendis has given us two specific plot points that seem to contradict what has been dubbed the Marvel Rolling Continuity, set in place since the seventies, to keep characters from ageing too much. That the Marvel Universe started around ten to fifteen years ago and that will always be the case, real life events switching to reflect that. So Mister Fantastic and Ben Grimm now fought alongside each other in Desert Storm rather than World War II. You get the picture.
But even in that there have been oddities. The Punisher remains a Vietnam veteran. Nick Fury still still fought in World War II – the latter explained away by a health serum.
But now we have the All-New X-Men, brought back from the past, but reacting in a way inconsistent with coming from only ten-to-fifteen years ago.
Which ties in with a scene from Jason Aaron's X-Men: Schism #3 from a few years ago.
With a speech balloon covering up an unfortunate date…
And just now a time travelling Eva Bell established the Fantastic Four's battle with Galactus in 1966.
All three written by Brian Bendis. So what's going on?
Well, Bleeding Cool poster Patrick Gerard has a proposal and I rather like it. He writes,
So what if "Time Runs Out"/"Time is Broken" ends up revealing that there was an in-universe reasdon for the sliding timeline?
And just for controversy… What if the "reboot" involves the sliding timeline being broken. For some people. FF and X-Men debut in the 60s. Most are dead now. Avengers formed 5 years ago.
It could be the JSAing of the FF and X-Men.
Heck, add bonus?
You could introduce Evangeline Lily's Hope Van Dyne into the 616. (There's even a built in rationale for disconnecting Hank Pym from the sliding timeline: he's a temporal pressure point because of Age of Ultron.)
Introduce non-mutant kids (grandkids?) of the X-Men and Franklin Richards' kids. In a non-X-Men or Fantastic Four book.
I might have to see the exact agreement with Fox to be sure but I think if Scott and Jean had a non-mutant grandchild who debuted outside the X-Men comics and Franklin Richards had kids outside of an FF comic, Marvel Studios would have a clear line to those characters.
I'm just saying, intentionally dating some of the characters would allow Marvel to sideline the ones it doesn't have rights to while also exploiting the popularity of X-Men: First Class.
Snap the elastic timeline for a few characters. Shove them back into the 60s.
You could do it with FF (and much of their history would make more sense), X-Men (movie tie-in with a twist and no issues with why they don't cross over), and maybe a few select characters like Ant-Man (movie tie-in, again).
The Avengers debuted five years ago. The X-Men and FF meanwhile aged in real time from the 60s and died before the Avengers debuted.
Well, you have Franklin and Valeria's kids pop up in Avengers and form their own team obviously. As an Avengers spin-off that frequently crosses over with Fantastic Four's plotlines but whose movie rights are squarely at Marvel/Disney.
I'm not talking about just doing this with X-Men and FF after all. Hank Pym, as I say, is a prime candidate for a variety of reasons. Not JUST to match the films.
With all of these, I think the interesting thing is making the alterations part of the story. Maybe as one poster suggested, Franklin was trying to anchor people together in time from different eras and the sliding timeline was a real thing in universe. Maybe there's a crisis event in 2039 and the Marvel heroes have all been set on a gently sliding timeline as a means of making sure there will be heroes to deal with the 2039 crisis. But like a plane whose load is too heavy, some of the heroes need to be released from the sliding timeline so that the others can continue on that course — and those who continue do so aware that their timeline is sliding, that there are a dozen Christmases for every year they age.
But the FF, X-Men, Wasp, Hank Pym… Maybe a few others? They volunteer to leave the sliding timeline and, in doing so, snap back into the 60s, with their descendants appearing in the ongoing Spider-man and Avengers books.
And then laying out how it could happen in the comic books…
Mr. Fantastic: I noticed a funny thing when reviewing records in my quantum database. How old was your father when he died, Tony?
Iron Man: 75
Mr. Fantastic: Last year, he died at 74. The year before that, he died at 73.
Iron Man: What are you saying?
Mr. Fantastic: The details of how our parents died are in flux. The details of how they met are in flux. I've analyzed our family trees. What is your relationship to Howard Stark, Sr?
Iron Man: He's my great-great-grandfather.
Mr. Fantastic: Your family tree has gained two generations since you became Iron Man. Your brother, Arno Stark? He used to be your son. And according to my calculations, in a few years he'll become your uncle. We're being pulled through time and not all of us at the same rate.
Iron Man: What are you saying?
Mr. Fantastic: Sue and I were reminiscing. Going through old library footage. The story of how we met has been changing. Right now, we remember meeting as graduate students. Both of us were in grad school.
Iron Man: I thought you met through the boarding house you stayed at. Her aunt Susan's place?
Mr. Fantastic: She doesn't have an Aunt Susan. She has a great-aunt Susan now. And before that, records show we met when I was her graduate teaching assistant. Our ages haven't been stable relative to each other.
Iron Man: Well, I always wondered how she maintained such a nice figure after two children. Yoga only accounts for so much.
Mr. Fantastic: Our timelines are being stretched at an uneven rate. Our family trees are in flux. Something — or someone — is pulling the details of our lives forward through time.
Iron Man: That seems troubling. Granted, that might explain the fantastic returns my portfolio saw last quarter. Five times the market rate ever since I became Iron Man. That shouldn't be possible, come to think of it…
Mr. Fantastic: I think it would be unwise to upset the applecart too much here but some of us have determined that this temporal fluke can't sustain all of us anymore. Some of us need to revert back to normal time.
Iron Man: What are you saying? Are you saying you've cut the link?
Mr. Fantastic: Tony, by this time tomorrow, I'll probably have been dead before you ever became Iron Man. And there will come a day when I was dead before you were born. This is the last day the Fantastic Four and the Avengers coexist as contemporaries. You're on a collision course to the future and we'll be snapping back to the past. We won't be contemporaries anymore.
Iron Man: Don't be silly, Reed. There's always time travel. I'm sure we'll find a way to stay in touch. Great minds tend to end up in the same room. King Arthur sends Christmas cards now and then; archaeologists dig them up in Glastonbury and I always make sure to read them in order.
Mr. Fantastic: I'm glad you can take this in stride.
Iron Man: Give my regards to Einstein, Reed.
So what do people reckon? Would you be onside? Or should it be kicked into touch? To mix my sporting metaphors…