When you hear the word superhero, the first guy that pops to mind is Superman. He’s as powerful as they get, but what makes him so appealing to fans is his moral compass and kindness despite his unfathomable power. This year is the 80th anniversary of the creation of the character, but just how old is Superman himself?
Superman is usually between his 20s and early 30s. However, different versions are differently aged. For instance, Clark Kent from the Smallville TV show is a teenager, while Superman from the Arrowverse is over 40. Regardless of his age, as long as he’s on Earth, Superman doesn’t age.
Let’s break down the clues from the comics that might help us determine how old Superman is in various versions of the character. Then, we’ll check out how old the actors portraying the characters were to see if there’s a common pattern.
Can Superman Live Forever?
Superman’s Kryptonian physiology makes him a superhero on Earth. His birth planet, Krypton, was close to a red sun. However, when he arrived on Earth that revolves around a yellow sun, his body started to absorb that energy, supercharging his cells and giving him superpowers. If you move him away from the yellow sun, he will eventually become “mortal” again.
We know Kal-El is invulnerable to almost any kind of damage, but can he live forever?
As long as Superman is near a yellow sun, he won’t age or die. In that regard, he can live forever. Not only that, but in most versions, he gets stronger and stronger with time spent near that constant source of yellow solar radiation.
In the Kingdom Come storyline, for instance, Superman lives for over 1000 years. Other versions see him peak at a certain age and then slowly age (growing a grey beard), while others see him reaching the peak and staying there forever.
Overall, the general consensus is that Superman could live forever if he had a constant source of yellow solar radiation to “charge” his cells.
How Old Is Superman in the Comics?
Superman’s age was never explicitly revealed in the comics. However, many hints can help us determine how old Clark Kent was in each version, or at least get close to his real age. As we know, Kal-El came to Earth as an infant, and he seemingly grew just like an ordinary human child.
In the old Action Comics version of Superman, Lois Lane is revealed to be 22 years old. If you take Superboy #90 as a reference point, you can see that Clark and Lois are in high school simultaneously, so the biggest difference between them can be four years. Clark is a bit older than Lois, though, which would make him somewhere between 23 and 26.
In the Kingdom Come storyline, we see Superman with a grey beard and hair, which means he’s at least 50 or 60 years old. He goes on to live 1000 more years after that, but it shows that his age heavily depends on the storyline.
The New 52 version of the character reveals that Clark started working for the Daily Planet almost immediately after college, which would mean that Superman is in his early 20s in this continuity.
In all honesty, since Kal-El virtually doesn’t age when he’s close to a yellow sun, it’s not even important how old he is. In theory, even if he’s a hundred years old, he’d still look and feel like the peak version of himself.
How Old Is Superman in The Movies and TV Shows?
Again, just like in the comics, Superman’s exact age is hardly ever explicitly stated in the movies and TV shows where the character appears. That’s why I’ll take the age of the actors portraying the character at that moment as a reference to how old Superman is – at least in their version.
There are some versions where we can pinpoint his exact age, though. For instance, we get an exact year of birth for Tyler Hoechlin’s Clark Kent in the Arrowverse. In Superman & Lois episode called “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events,” We learn that Kal-El was born on Krypton in 1979.
That makes him 42 years old, even though Hoechlin is only 33 – which just plays into the narrative that Superman doesn’t age after he reaches his peak.
Henry Cavill portrays the DC Extended Universe version of Superman, and his version of the Man of Steel is one of the most popular versions of the character ever. Man of Steel came out in 2013, while Cavill was born in 1983, which would make him 30 years old at the time of filming. I believe that his version of Clark Kent is around the same age.
Before Cavill, Brandon Routh gave his performance portraying Kal-El in the 2006 movie called Superman Returns. Routh was born in 1979, so his Superman was around 28 years old.
On the other hand, Christopher Reeve – the one that many consider the only “real” Superman – was only 26 years old when his first Superman movie came out in 1978, as Reeve was born in 1952. He played the role in four movies, though, with the last one premiering in 1987, meaning Reeve was already 35 and still playing the Man of Steel.
One particular version of Clark Kent I enjoyed watching as a teenager was Tom Welling’s portrayal in the TV show Smallville. The show aired for ten years, starting in 2001.
At the time, Welling was 24 years old, although his character was a lot younger in the show. In Season 1, he was a freshman in high school, which would make him around 15 years old, making Welling the oldest guy ever portraying Kent if you compare his actual age and his character’s age.
Overall, apart from Smallville that focuses on Clark Kent’s young life, most versions of Superman are aged between the early twenties and early-to-mid thirties, depending on the movie or the comic book. We might never know Kal-El’s exact age, but seeing that he doesn’t age after hitting his peak, it doesn’t matter how old Superman really is.