There are few tropes as widespread across cinema as silly side characters who are actually smart. Whether they're a huge goof with one secret savant-like skill or have just been putting on a guise to hide their big brains, these characters are a film constant that spreads across all genres. From Luna Lovegood dropping her act to advise Harry in a young adult fantasy world, all the way to Silent Bob finally speaking to a lovesick Dante in a grungy R-rated comedy, these silly sages can't be escaped.
It's about time these characters go head-to-head to finally decide who the smartest sidekick characters actually are.
- Photo: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince / Warner Bros. Pictures
Luna Lovegood is the very personification of the word "quirky." She's absent-minded to the extreme, but at the same time, has a warmth and charm that she brings with her. She has a relatively small role in the Harry Potter franchise, yet she carries with her a cult following. An important aspect of this character is that while she seems ditzy, she was sorted into Ravenclaw - not Hufflepuff, as one might have expected.
While she seems silly in the early part of the franchise, she eventually comes to be a leader in Dumbledore's Army, the in-school rebellion that is working to prepare for the coming wizard war. Not exactly what the audience initially expects from Lovegood, but she's full of surprises. She's incredibly wise and unfazed by the silly actions of the students around her, even when they are hiding her possessions from her. As she explains to Harry, things often have a way of coming back to us, even if they aren't how you expect them to.
Luna has one of her most insightful moments at a time when Harry is at his lowest. Harry feels like no one believes him in regards to Voldemort's return, and Luna assures Harry that she believes him and that she suspects others do, as well, but Voldemort wants Harry to feel alone as part of his scheme.Surprisingly competent?
- Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema
Samwise Gamgee is a silly, modest being, even by the standards of hobbits. He only gets caught up in the journey in the first place because while gardening for Frodo, he accidentally falls into view. Gandalf decides that he will make a great companion for Frodo and sends him along with his friend.
While Sam stumbled into the journey, he is a huge part of its success. When Frodo is believed to be deceased for a time, Samwise takes up the journey on his own and tasks himself with destroying the ring. Sam is one of two beings to ever willingly give up the ring. The other is Bilbo, and not even he surrendered it as easily as Samwise.Surprisingly competent?
- Photo: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
When Mantis is first introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, she seems like little more than a vehicle for jokes. And, to be fair, the jokes are pretty funny. Who can forget the "you feel romantic love... for her!" bit wherein her powers make Peter Quill feel embarrassed about his feelings? But, as everyone would come to find out, those powers can be used for a lot more than laughs.
Mantis is a psychic that Ego took in at a young age to help him relax his mind enough to rest. Mantis proves that she is a lot more than a humanoid sleeping pill, though, when she decides to turn against Ego and inform the Guardians of his true, much more sinister intentions.
Later in the series, Mantis gets a chance to showcase the full extent of her powers, and she is able to keep Thanos asleep long enough for the Avengers to almost have a chance against him (if not for Quill messing it up). Basically, her powers initially seem like a joke, but in the end, she proves to be one of the few people who can actually affect/fight Thanos in any meaningful way.Surprisingly competent?
- 4Photo: Ant-Man and the Wasp / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Luis's overly specific flashback stories are one of the comedic high points of the MCU, but the character himself is much more than a joke. While a character who was imprisoned for swiping smoothie machines doesn't exactly seem like a genius, Luis is the brains behind nabbing the Ant-Man suit and is later integral in breaking into one of the highest-security tech companies in the world, Pym Technologies.
Luis later starts a company with Scott known as X-Con Industries, and he displays how much he has grown by how seriously he takes his new company (a lot more seriously than Scott, for that matter). Luis is hilarious, but that doesn't mean he should be counted out.Surprisingly competent?