Chris Peruzzi is a comic book superhero historian who is passionate about how today's comic book heroes are the new mythology for America.
Super Geniuses Without Pocket Protectors
There are boatloads of geniuses within the Marvel Universe, but everyone wants to know who the smartest heroes or villains in the MU are. Heck, there are characters that are so indifferent when it comes to the concepts of good and evil that they don’t even qualify as either and it doesn’t make their intelligence levels any smaller.
But let’s not talk about ethics.
When I say the word genius, it’s more than getting a high IQ off of an internet test. The characters I’m talking about range from near omniscient god-like beings to famous inventors and insanely mad scientists. Their intellect spans from colossal organic minds that run with computer efficiency to men who have competent expertise across multiple scientific disciplines.
For this article, I’m limiting it to scientific geniuses. Yes, there are other kinds.
I think we can all agree that the Red Skull is a genius when it comes to military strategy and propaganda. We can also say that both Moonstone (Dr. Karla Sofen) is a genius at manipulating people as was her mentor Doctor Faustus. Leave alone the fact that Doc Samson is the Doctor Phil of the hero community. We can also say that alchemical expertise of the villain, Diablo, is unmatched by anyone on the planet.
Certainly, there are strategic geniuses, criminal planning geniuses, deductive geniuses, and a plethora of others. However, for now, let’s talk science.
This article will talk about near god-like cosmic level geniuses first.
The Supreme Intelligence
Remember this guy? If the answer is “no”, then you really need to go back and read many of the Marvel tales that started in the sixties and the seventies.
He’s the big green head.
More than a million years ago, Kree alien scientists decided to make an organic computer made up of the greatest military, medical, philosophical, and scientific minds of their race in order to create a cosmic cube. The result was the sentient life form known as the Supreme Intelligence.
A cosmic cube is a construct used to reshape reality at the whim of whoever or whatever is holding it. As the Supreme Intelligence had become self-aware, it had refused to create one. Partially due to the danger of what such a device could do and also because of what the last one had done to the Skrull Empire.
For hundreds of thousands of years, it was used to counsel the Kree Leaders with its accumulated knowledge and wisdom. Eventually, it became the leader of the race. Because, why not?
When it became aware that the Kree race as a whole had reached its evolutionary limit, the Intelligence began working to combine Kree genetics to improve the race by having blue-skinned members mate with other alien species. The result divided the Kree into two races of blue-skinned and “pink” skinned – where the blue-skinned looked down on their pink “mongrel” brethren with contempt and prejudice. So much so that eventually, the Supreme Intelligence required an additional component of the soul gem (Infinity stone) to keep the newly acquired pink minds it had integrated from conflicting with the blue minds already present within its system.
That’s a headache.
The Supreme Intelligence had discovered the mighty psychic mental powers that potentially existed within all earth humans. It hatched a plot to accumulate an Earthling mind. However, he could not do this directly. In order to resolve this, it had joined the atoms of the Kree Captain Marvel with career sidekick, Rick Jones, in an effort to gain these powers. The plot eventually failed.
Whenever we see it, it manifests as a gigantic green tentacled-head on a gigantic monitor. Sometimes he’s shown in a giant glass vat.
The Intelligence has greater knowledge and is more powerful than any technology on earth and its knowledge and data spans hundreds or thousands of years. There is also the fact that the science kept within the Kree Supreme Intelligence is the same that led to the creation of the Inhumans and that Kree science is thousands of generations ahead of anything we have here.
Currently, it is inactive when the Kree house of Fiyero had placed it in a state of “living death” and it was put out of its misery by Ronan the Accuser. Whether this was the end of it has yet to be seen.
Not to be outdone by their enemies, the Skrulls came up with their own version of The Supreme Intelligence called Intelligencia – a female computer construct made up of the greatest Skrull minds within their race.
The age, powers, intelligence, and capabilities of this construct can only be theorized, but it is assumed to be on the same plane of intelligence as its Kree counterpart. It was first seen in Captain Marvel vol 3 issues 8 through 10 and then in the Secret Invasion mini-series.
It, like the Supreme Intelligence, looks like a giant green Skrull head with eyes surrounding it and one large eyeball where its mouth should be.
How smart are the Watchers? They can’t even tell you.
The intelligence, power, and knowledge of the Watchers can only be speculated. They are one of the oldest races in the universe and their sole reason for being is to record what happens within the multiverse.
That’s right – the multiverse. The Watchers aren’t satisfied with just what’s going on here, they also want to know what’s happening in parallel dimensions as well. Did you want to know what would happen if Wolverine became the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Or if the Venom symbiote completely took over the Hulk or Thor? Well, if you did, all you need to do is ask a Watcher.
Of course, all they’d do is stare at you a while and tell you nothing. Why? Because they are forbidden to interfere with anything. They know the answers. You know they know the answers. And they know that you know that they know the answers. They are afraid of what you’d do with that knowledge.
What we do know about the Watchers is that they definitely know what they’re doing and when they do decide to interfere, it’s for a really good reason. For example, In Neil Gaiman’s 1602, Uatu, Earth’s Watcher, had to summon the astral form of Doctor Strange to tell him how an element of his world was going to destroy the entirety of existence. Ordinarily, no Watcher would ever do such a thing. However, the catch of telling Strange everything he needed to know, Strange had to promise not to reveal this knowledge while he was alive.
Watchers are privy to how the universe works with the knowledge that is quantum leaps beyond anything mere mortals could possibly understand.
There is a benefit to being the oldest living thing in the universe and a survivor of the last one.
Oh sure, he destroys worlds and is the leading cause of genocide, but no one ever asks him any hard questions.
What they’d discover is that Galactus’s knowledge of practically everything is almost infinite. He commands the power cosmic along with an array of other phenomenal powers including telepathy, telekinesis, matter transmutation, energy manipulation, resurrection, and a lot more.
What we also discovered while he was Galan (his real original alter ego) is that the science he’s acquired during the millennia is beyond anyone’s comprehension. In the graphic novel Rising Storm, Galan (or Galen) was reduced from his Galactus status to a normal mortal. His intellect was still light years ahead of anyone on our planet albeit bent on seeing the negative of everything in front of him.
The Beyonders are a group of extra-terrestrial beings who collect planets and create cosmic cubes.
They managed to avoid the notice of the Watchers and have only stepped out of the shadows to do things on earth – like create the Savage Land in Antarctica. The scope of their powers and intellect is so vast that it nearly drove a being like the High Evolutionary to madness upon seeing how insignificant he was in the universe. Needless to say, their intelligence is beyond our imagination. So much so that both Eternity and The Living Tribunal, two of the most powerful beings in the multiverse, have forbidden them from creating cosmic cubes again due to their destructive nature and the havoc they wreak in any universe.
They can be credited with the creation of extraterrestrial god-like being known as the Beyonder (pre-retcon) and giving the Molecule Man his power.
Earth Big Heads
There are thousands of advanced civilizations I have not mentioned and due to the size and scope of this article, I cannot list all of them. However, I really think the meat of this piece should be who we know on this planet as a super genius.
Plus, the guys I’m talking about are truly the innovators of science and their smarts go into multiple disciplines. While the X-Men’s Beast can boast of being a big brain among his friends in Westchester, he has honestly admitted that other, more well-known scientists, are completely out of his league.
This list is in no particular order. I only mention these people because if there’s a huge problem that requires a massive intellect to fix, characters might want to enlist their help. The list includes heroes and villains because intelligence is intelligence and ethics is ethics.
Once again, the inclusion or omission of characters on this list is obviously not absolute. Were that the case, this would be a book and not a web article.
Reed Richards - aka Mister Fantastic
When it comes to being a super-genius, we usually think of this guy.
Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four is everybody’s go-to guy when it comes to solving a science-y issue. And why not? He is really a gifted intellect without having to artificially enhance his brain power. Reed goes to science like a fish goes to water.
Mister Fantastic is a master of engineering, chemistry, astronomy, physics, biology, robotics, and xeno-biology. Ironically, his mutated powers are a result of one of his biggest and first blunders into the space race when he and three of his closest friends stole a rocketship and flew it through a cosmic ray storm with insufficient shielding.
That said, he’s been doing solid work since.
As the son of a scientific genius, Reed was also a naturally gifted prodigy who was taking college-level courses by the time he was fourteen at schools like Harvard, MIT, Columbia, and Marvel’s Empire State University. By age 22, he’d gotten his doctorates in physics and electrical engineering from Harvard while doing work for the military.
And as if there weren't enough genius in one Reed Richards, there's an entire infinite supply with the "Council of Reeds" from parallel dimensions that meet to discuss the really, really complex issues. (Note: Rick and Morty fans should know that the "Council of Ricks" was based on the "Council of Reeds")
As the leader of the Fantastic Four, Reed’s natural intelligence and leadership abilities have led the team to be one of the first lines of defense in any global threat.
Victor Von Doom - aka Doctor Doom
There is no way to list Reed Richards on a list of geniuses without mentioning Victor Von Doom aka Doctor Doom.
Doom is the Moriarty to Richards’s Holmes. No one knows who is the smarter of the two.
Doctor Doom is one of those natural intellects whose abilities are only slightly less than his insufferable arrogance. As the son of a gypsy healer father and a witch mother, Doom is adept at science and a master of the mystic arts. His abilities have been compared to that of DaVinci and his mystical ability has been assessed as being slightly less than that of Doctor Strange’s.
In addition to his intelligence and mystical abilities, he has also mastered the mind transfer disciplines of the extraterrestrial Ovoids and has, on occasion, switched minds with other people.
He is a master electronic engineering and is responsible for the invention of robotics, artificial intelligence, chemistry, physics, time-travel, biology, and xeno-biology.
Tony Stark – aka Iron Man
While we’re talking about natural prodigies, let’s talk about Tony Stark.
Reed Richards and Doctor Doom might spend an eternity playing chess against each other, but Tony Stark just gets things done. Like Richards and Doom, he showed his talent at an early age as a child prodigy. He was adept at mathematics, physics, chemistry, and computer science along with skills like electrical engineering and mechanical engineering that surpass practically every genius on earth.
When you need a device to stop a horde of cannibalistic aliens made, you should go to Tony Stark first.
Think about it. Tony Stark’s greatest invention was his Iron Man armor. It was something he made to save his life after a piece of metal shrapnel got stuck in his chest. Most geniuses would have died considering they were in a prison camp with nothing but electronic garbage – but not Stark. Stark did a MacGyver and created armor that not only saved his life but kicked every ass within the prison camp while escaping.
In addition to all of his scientific genius, he’s also a financial business magnate and CEO, making him one of the richest characters in the Marvel Universe.
Doctor Robert Bruce Banner - aka The Hulk
When you become one of the most destructive forces on the planet, people tend to ignore the fact you won every science fair you ever competed in.
Okay, Bruce Banner is emotionally damaged, but that doesn’t really make him a bad person. Well, not really bad. Well, not terrible anyway.
Despite having a dark side that would make most psychiatrists a mint of money in book sales with one of Banner’s personalities with the emotional stability of a five-year-old toddler and another as a mob enforcer named “Mr. Fixit”, Bruce Banner actually has some significant gray matter upstairs. He is one of the world’s leading authorities in biology, chemistry, engineering, medicine, physiology, and nuclear physics with an intellect that is “so brilliant it cannot be measured on any known intelligence test."
This is something that Jack Kirby wanted to inject into the Hulk’s character. With the Jekyll/Hyde paradigm, his good side had to be a brilliant mind to wage war with his brutish dark side’s incalculable strength. Banner’s “Bannertech” is on par with Stark’s tech as well as most things that Doctor Doom can come up with.
Doctor Hank Pym - aka Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, and Yellowjacket
Hank Pym is both one of the best and most despised heroes in the Marvel Universe.
On the one hand, he has done a lot of good within the superhero community in the guise of Ant-Man, Giant-Man, and Goliath. His heroic deeds are fantastic. It’s when we start talking about his time as Yellow Jacket when we see a horrible dark persona bubbling under the surface with highlights in domestic abuse.
Sometimes, chemical depressants are the right answer for people who experiment with designer drugs — like Pym Particles.
That said, we have to remember that Pym is a tortured genius. Along with having doctorates in nanotechnology and biochemistry, he’s also a master of quantum physics, robotics/cybernetics, artificial intelligence, and entomology. How else could he discover a particle that could shrink and grow himself, but also have the mechanical expertise to invent a helmet to communicate with ants?
Plus there was that entire Ultron-thing.
It’s not a good thing when you accidentally invent an artificial intelligence based on your own brain engrams that is the bane of mankind. That’s when science goes "boink".
Later in Pym’s hero career, he used the Pym particles his body made to shrink and enlarge scientific equipment and other handy objects to use for missions. We just have to remember that his natural unmedicated bipolar disorder makes him as emotionally stable as a tap dancer in a ball bearing factory.
Professor Charles Xavier - aka Professor X
Yes, I know. When you think of Professor X, you’re not thinking “scientist”.
Well, you’d be wrong. Along with his significant mutant power, Charles Xavier is a freaking genius. He holds doctorates in genetics, biophysics, psychology, and anthropology, and an M.D. in psychiatry. In addition to this, he invented Cerebro for finding and detecting mutants which requires much of his expertise in life sciences and mutation.
One of the biggest problems of thinking about characters like Professor X, Mister Fantastic, Iron Man, and The Hulk is that we can’t divorce ourselves from thinking telepath-guy, stretchy-guy, the guy in the iron suit, and the big green smashing guy. These characters have to fall back on stuff they learned in school.
Why? Because reading is fundamental.
While it is also conceivable that Xavier could have also done a mutant telepath download of any expert near him, we can probably assume that a man of his ethical character would find the act of prying into other people’s thoughts repugnant. Xavier got his smarts the hard way through study and scientific discipline.
As much of a smarty-pants Professor Xavier is, we have to remember that Magneto is as well.
Most people think of Magneto as a really powerful mutant whose power of magnetism borders on a proof of the Unified Field Theory where all energies are related.
But he’s so much more than that.
Magneto’s genius is in various fields of advanced science, especially in genetic manipulation, particle physics, engineering, and other fields of technology. He’s created his own mega tech lair in Asteroid M as well as genetically engineered and mutated several new and interesting life forms using Deviant and Beyonder technology – including Alpha, the Ultimate Mutant, a being so powerful that shortly after his creation regressed Magneto to his infancy.
Needless to say, Magneto recovered and is stronger than ever.
He is also fluent in many languages including reading micro-expressions which make him an excellent lie detector.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe made the Mandarin seem like a ridiculous illusion performed by an out of work actor. In the comic book universe, nothing could be further from the truth.
There’s a lot more to this guy who is a perpetual thorn in Iron Man’s armor.
As with many of the Marvel villains, many of them are not thought of as scientific geniuses. The genius of the Mandarin is in what he was able to extrapolate from the extraterrestrial science of the Makluan alien race.
Not only has the Mandarin mastered all ten of his rings (formerly the innards of a Makuan spaceship) but has also improved upon what he’d found and made advances on it. It takes a highly disciplined and logical mind to not only understand an alien science from nothing but also to expand on it past what its originators had done. Much of what we understand about his weapons have to do with quantum physics as well as matter transmutation and consciousness transference.
In addition to all of this, the Mandarin is an accomplished martial artist and conqueror.
Samuel Sterns - aka The Leader
There is literally no way I can talk about big brains in one article without mentioning the little green guy with the enormous forehead. He is a graduate of the gamma radiation school of genius mutation after an accidental exposure to radioactive materials.
Fans of the Hulk storylines will know who Samuel Sterns is. He is everything the Hulk is not. Where the Hulk is physically mighty and mentally challenged, the Leader is a physical weakling and a mighty intellect on the same proportional scale as the Hulk’s physical strength.
While it is true that the Leader has no university degrees, he is a self-taught genius with a photographic memory and advanced knowledge of genetics, physics, and robotics, and has designed a large number of sophisticated weapons, vehicles, computers, androids, and synthetic humanoids. The Leader’s natural talents in problem-solving, intuition, pattern recognition, logic, and mental information retrieval are superhumanly enhanced where his predictive abilities border on the uncanny.
MODOC, MODOK, MODAM, and SODAM
Whether you’re talking about the Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing (MODOC), Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing (MODOK), Mental Organism Designed for Aggressive Maneuvers (MODAM), or Specialized Organism Designed for Aggressive Maneuvers (SODAM), we’re talking about a giant head-brain in a floating chair with destructive mental capabilities.
These characters are usually the poor unfortunate “volunteers” who thought a great career at Advanced Idea Mechanics would get them far in this world. Instead, one day they fell asleep in their dorm room and woke up to find they were turned into a giant-headed monstrosity.
On the upside, their natural abilities to do all complex calculations and to mentally dominate anything in the room certainly have their advantages – especially if you’re the guy who is falling behind with his wedges in Trivial Pursuit. Outside of that, being a floating head of a giant brain is no picnic for someone with normal wants and desires.
What you really need to know about these creatures is that they’re really smart and telepathic with the ability to project psionic force for a number of effects, including concussive energy, generation of heat, and protective fields.
The High Evolutionary
Herbert Edgar Wyndham wanted to make his mark in the world. Who knew that all it took was for him to come up with a new invention designed to accelerate his evolutionary potential?
After doing some highly unethical experiments that would make the plot of H.G. Welles’s Island of Doctor Moreau, look like a fairytale, Wyndham dubbed himself and his highly evolved brain to be “The High Evolutionary”. With his exclusive compound of Wundagore Mountain, he created his “new men” from common animals – the best and most elite were his personal group of bodyguards known as The Knights of Wundagore.
So, why is the High Evolutionary on this list? When your brain has been accelerated to be the height of human potential and possesses the sum of all written human knowledge, you’re no dummy.
What the High Evolutionary did for an encore was play god for a bit in creating Counter-Earth – a planet orbiting the other side of the sun where he started from Genesis to create all life on it without evil. The experiment failed because of course, it did.
What his problem is now is that he’s looking for something to bring meaning to his existence.
The Mad Thinker
The Mad Thinker, also known as just “The Thinker”, is a natural genius with an eidetic memory.
While not superhuman, he has analytical, mathematical, and geometrical abilities unparalleled on this planet. He has great expertise and doctorates in the following fields: computers, robotics, artificial intelligence, computer science and engineering.
The real thing you need to know about the Thinker is his mind works like an organic computer and he’s can predict the probability of any scenario with 99.99% accuracy. The more facts and variable he has of any situation, the more accurate the prediction. His only real weakness is in what he calls the random X-factor that would disrupt any of his plans.
He has invented The Awesome Android, Quasimodo (Quasi Motivational Destruct Organism), and the Scavenger (as well as many others).
Ivan Kragoff - aka The Red Ghost
Scientific curiosity can be a terrible thing. It drives motivated people to terrible places.
Take Ivan Kragoff, for instance. He observed the circumstances that created The Fantastic Four and something in his mind thought it might be a good idea for him to try to replicate the accident that created them with himself as the test subject along with three primates.
Because that’s what the world needs – an irradiated mad scientist with cosmic ray powered monkeys. Just remember that a regular chimp can rip your arm off and beat you with it. A super-powered gorilla can keep writers like me wetting their beds for years.
Well, Kragoff successfully pulled off the job and could not only make himself intangible at will but could also make himself uselessly transparent as well. Regarding his three monkeys, one is super-strong, the second is like Magneto and can control magnetic energies, and the last is a changeling.
Kragoff, along with his doctorate in radiology, has expertise in scientific genius with advanced knowledge in fields including rocketry, engineering, communications, genetics, robotics, physics, hypnotism, and the training of simians. Once again, the last skill is really helpful, especially when it comes to getting a gorilla to NOT tear your arm off.
Elihas Starr – aka Egghead
As far as this guy is concerned, all I can say is that children can be cruel. I can’t imagine this guy not having a childhood that didn’t involve other children making fun of this guy’s weird shaped melon.
Melon-headed comments aside, Elihas Star, also known as Egghead, is another really smart scientist who just became a greedy criminal bastard riddled with envy over everything Henry Pym did. While he had no superhuman powers, he was adept at learning new things and had expertise in many scientific disciplines including atomic science, robotics, and engineering.
Ironically, his life came to an end when he decided to fire a gun that was designed to backfire on whoever fired it.
I guess the yolks were on him.
Bentley Wittman – aka The Wizard
Speaking of jealous villains, here we have Bentley Wittman, also known as the Wizard.
I’m not taking anything away from Wittman, considering that he really is a talented scientist with skill in the fields of applied physics and sub-atomic particles. He’s also a master of disguise and inventor of awesome anti-gravity disks.
Along with him being a child prodigy who was a chess champion, inventor of futuristic devices, and stage personality who used his inventions to amaze audiences, he was an international celebrity. Indeed, he made his bulk of legitimate cash being the original “sharper image” man by selling his inventions to rich people and getting money in showbiz.
It’s just that he’s no Reed Richards… and he really just wanted to be better than Mister Fantastic. He should know that everything is in the name. Richards is fantastic. The Wizard is just kind of great. However, the thing to know about Wittman is that he thought there was some kind of competition between the two (where there really wasn’t – only in Wittman’s mind).
When people get that kind of jealous they do silly things like form a team of super-powered idiots and call themselves “The Frightful Four”. They’re the other FF… you know, only evil. The Wizard’s big schtick was to use his inventions (like his anti-gravity disks) against The Fantastic Four and face off with his team (which consisted of Pastepot Pete, the Sandman, and an amnesiac Medusa).
While the Wizard and his Frightful Four team have had moderate success in battling the Fantastic Four, typically and traditionally they get their asses handed to them on a pretty regular basis.
Maximus of Attilan
Maximus of Attilan and of the royal family of Inhumans is a mad genius.
I’d almost forgotten about him because I really didn’t think of him as a genius. His role has always been a gibbering maniac who is completely consumed with jealousy over his big brother. The fact that he can make complex inventions out of common household items and understand the subtle nuances of Groot from Planet X as it translates out to quantum space theory makes him a crazy smart Inhuman MacGyver.
This crazy bastard actually has advanced skills in practical and theoretical knowledge of biology, physics, mechanics.
Of course, Maximus’s primary talent is his ability to either numb or dominate minds around him. When he’s working on the side of angels, he’s been an asset to saving everyone in Attilan as well as the Guardians of the Galaxy (see the War of Kings storyline).
One of the best things about the Marvel Universe is that it's forever evolving and changing - sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. In this case, some new smartypants kids have emerged from the pack in a new generation of intellect. In this new age of millennial storytelling, they come with what we've come to expect with a new age of over-used superlatives. For the sake of completeness, I am adding these new players to this list.
What can I say about Amadeus Cho that he wouldn't freely say about himself?
He's a child prodigy with a talent for recognizing patterns within the quantum realm on the fly - which makes him awesome at billiards. According to Reed Richards, Cho is one of the seven smartest people on Earth (Hank Pym says that now he's back on earth, Cho is eighth.). When you consider that Cho managed to cure Banner of his Hulk persona (at least, temporarily) with the use of nanites and turn himself into a Hulk, we can easily acknowledge that his solving a problem that Banner could not over several decades makes him a massive intellect.
Since Cho has made his debut, mortals and immortals alike have been after him for recruitment. The Olympians have made him the new "Prince of Power" succeeding Hercules and Bruce Banner has practically named Cho his go-to genius when he can't figure things out.
Cho was made even smarter through the exposure of a Cathexis Ray which somehow boosted his intelligence to alter physics. Cho, after discovering his Hulk persona was too dark and too difficult to control, re-calibrated it through the use of counter-nano-bots. His new enhanced form, which is weaker than the Hulk, he calls "Brawn".
Back in the day, Jack Kirby created a pair of pre-historic throwback characters called "Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy". There was a special bond between the furry cave-boy and the monstrous red tyrannosaurus-rex-like creature. Then, on a dark and dismal day, Moon Boy was murdered by a gang of killers, leaving the Devil Dinosaur all alone. The killers and Devil Dinosaur entered our reality through a time/space rift.
Enter nine-year-old Lunella Lafayette aka Moon-Girl who instantly bonded with the Devil Dinosaur.
Aside from her mental bond with the Devil Dinosaur, this kid, according to Amadeus Cho is smarter than Reed Richards, Doctor Doom, Bruce Banner, and Cho himself. All it took was a bit of her Inhuman genes some terrigen mist to make her a dinosaur channelling soopah-geeenius.
Moon Girl's chief talent is her innate ability to invent things - much like Forge of the X-men but more Inspector Gadget-y and full of girl power.
As you can see, there are a lot of demented geniuses in the MU. Have I covered them all? Of course not. However, the list I’ve provided should get you thinking and talking about who is out there and whether or not they can fill out a crossword puzzle in pen.
One of the things that made this list necessary was the formation of the super-evil group, The Intelligencia – which is not the Skrull Intelligence construct. This is a group of Marvel’s most bent evil geniuses. Among the members are Doom, MODOK, the Leader, The Mad Thinker, The Red Ghost, and The Wizard. Another inspiration for this came from the Franklinverse-made Knights of the Atomic Round Table which included Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Hank Pym, Bruce Banner, and Victor Von Doom.
There are certainly others that deserved consideration as well. For example, there’s always Doctor Octopus, Doctor Curtis Connors, Doctor Karl Malus, Zarko the Tomorrow Man, The Stranger, The Overmind, Arnim Zola, Rocket Raccoon, Mister Sinister, and Mentor of Titan.
I also didn't include any of the Elders of the Universe. I figured that as most of them have forgotten their own origins they may not be as smart as we all think they are.
There are also the scheming geniuses that have expanded on their original motifs like Thanos, who made clones of himself and genetically engineered them to be more powerful than many of the major threats within the Marvel Universe including Galactus, Professor X, Gladiator (of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard), Doctor Strange, and Iron Man. It is only natural to rationalize that a being like Thanos, in his quest to court Death, would focus his mind on everything it would take to bring the end of a solar system.
So, not everyone is listed.
There were characters that I really wanted to be on this list – like Peter Parker. It takes some brainpower to invent a nearly indestructible paste when you’re in high school and then use it for something that goes with your newly acquired powers. But while Parker is certainly gifted, he has had some problems passing his bio classes under the late/returned/and transformed Professor Miles Warren.
I also excluded Doctor Stephen Strange and Thor’s alter ego, Doctor Donald Blake. Both of these characters are geniuses in their own fields but lack the multiple disciplines of science to belong to a super-geniuses club – unless you want to count Thor’s doctorate in kicking ass with a war hammer.
The same goes for Norman Osborne, the Green Goblin. He’s sort of a scientist. He’s more of a CEO and criminal genius. On the one hand, he invented the flying broomstick and goblin glider he used to fight Spider-man. On the other hand, the reason why he’s incredibly nuts is the goblin formula he stole from Professor Strom blew up in his face.
It’s like what they said in The Big Bang Theory – “He’s one lab accident from being a supervillain.”
What we have on this list is a good start. This list is a primer in character analysis and a good who’s who when it comes to assessing cranial worth within this mythology. These characters think. These characters have made their reputations as people not to be trifled with.
The one thing we really have to remember with these characters is that being smart doesn't make them unbeatable. Just like anything else, it takes more than just one thing to make a successful hero or villain. The reason why the Leader is not ruling the world right not isn't that he's not smart enough. The reason is that he doesn't have the emotional maturity and often ruins his own plans with fits of impatience and emotional outbursts. The Mad Thinker takes everything into account but is continually foiled by the random X-factor of someone doing something out of character.
Even smart people can lapse into stupidity.
Big Brain Survey
Questions & Answers
Question: The list is great but was it necessary to count beast out at the beginning? Weren't beast and Black panther officially among the top 10 smartest people? Aren't Valeria Richards and blue marvel up there too?
Answer: Let’s talk about Hank MaCoy. By his own admission in Avengers Annual 13, he said he wasn’t even close to being in the same league as Hank Pym, Reed Richards, Tony Stark, or Bruce Banner when it came to going through Bruce Banner’s inventions. I’m not saying he isn’t smart, but I am saying he’s probably in the next tier down. Regardless of his expertise, he is responsible for the continuing change into his furry form that he still hasn’t been able to cure it.
Question: Since the Mandarin is on the list, shouldn't Kang the Conqueror also be on the list?
Answer: Is Kang really a genius? I don't think so. I just think he has access to technology in the far future.
This is what I mean. If I had access to time travel and decided with the technology I had today to go back to the 16th Century, would I be considered a genius? Well, if you compare me to the people at that time, comparatively, I know more or have better knowledge. Am I a genius or did I just take advantage of the technology that someone else invented to go to a time where people knew less? The Mandarin is on the list because he took an alien artifact written in an alien tongue and figured out FROM NOTHING what it does and use those artifacts properly. That's genius.
If I took a modern television back to the 1940's and used a remote control on it, people would think it was magic. Am I smart in making the channel change? No.
Question: How about Moon Girl as a contender for this list or Black Panther or Blue Marvel?
Answer: Moon Girl is a consideration. My only issue is that she has no experience to practically use her knowledge. She certainly has the intellect.
© 2018 Christopher Peruzzi
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on August 09, 2019:
While it is fair enough that not listing Moon Girl and Shruti as an oversight, their relative obscurity at the time of the article's writing gives me an out. I will also admit to missing Amadeus Cho who had begun his career at the end of World War Hulk.
However, T'Challa, Storm, Goliath (Bill Foster), and/or Nick Fury II, really aren't the quantum geniuses that would deserve a place in this article - regardless of diversity.
Nor will I sit back with bated breath for every time Marvel writers through their own lack of imagination vomit forth someone who they now claim as "the strongest", "the smartest", or "the best" (fill in the blank). Not for nothing, they've run out of ideas - when they can't think of one decent new character they splice two old characters together and call it something awesome. It's gotten to the point where I am so trepidatious in buying a new Marvel issue - whether it's The Immortal Hulk, The Amazing Spider-man, or the latest reboot of The Guardians of the Galaxy, that I almost don't want to fork over the cash.
So when Marvel decides to come up with a new variant of "Moon Boy" with the Devil Dinosaur - I'm more likely to say, "Let's see where this goes" before declaring this newcomer is the best, smartest, cosmic brainac in the MU.
Isaiah King on August 08, 2019:
Why didn't you include characters like moon girl they literally said she is the smartest character in the marvel universe ( and also absolutely no diversity like black panther, shuri, storm, goliath, nick fury , ect)
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on April 22, 2018:
Thanks, I love writing it.
Paul Levy from United Kingdom on March 19, 2018:
Loved this! Big fan of Marvel and it was interesting to learn of more brainy heroes than Professor X and Doctor Strange.