First officially referenced in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #1, the term "Sliding Timescale" puts all the various modern era pop-culture and historical references into perspective. A problem that arose from the "Modern Age" of heroes (Being Marvel's publication of characters from 1961 to present) are the numerous appearances of various public figures (musicians, politicians, celebrities etc.), current events, names of locations, and technological advances that would drastically age the cast of characters if their adventures were captured in real time.
The explanation is that many of the realities that exist in the Marvel Universe (those noted so far Earth-616, Earth-982 and Earth-1610) operate on a sliding timescale. All historical, pop-culture, and current event references must be considered topical. The explanation for these "anomalies" (as certain characters have broken the fourth wall and pointed them out, such as Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #519) is that time manipulations push these universes "forward" in time, altering these topical references.
Similarly, many characters who have participated in major conflicts are subject to this sliding time scale. For example, Reed Richards and Ben Grimm were referenced as having served during World War II, Charles Xavier and Cain Marko in the Korean War, and Forge in Vietnam. All these conflicts should be considered topical, and Marvel has officially generalized them to conflicts in the region. The same can also be said about early Marvel villains that appeared in the 60's who were Communist in nature. In their original publications they were referred to being loyal to Russia or China, however Marvel generally references that they were part of "Communist Nature in Asia". There are exceptions to the rules, such as the Punisher's service in Vietnam, as well as all characters who were active during Timely era publications that took place in the 1940s.
As an example to the sliding timescale, Tony Stark was originally captured in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, it was later retconned to the Gulf War, and retconned once more into happening during an unnamed conflict in Afghanistan.
Modern retelling of old Marvel stories in a modern setting such as Marvel Age: Spider-Man Vol 1, while not considered canon, are attempts to show old stories in a "Modern" view.
(See Also: Topical Reference, Glossary:Modern Age)
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