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The Smartest Comic Book Superheroes Of All Time

List Rules
Vote up the superheroes who could think their way out of any situation.

To many fans, Batman is the smartest superhero of all time. His brains are matched only by Superman's brawn, and together, they're the World's Finest. But what about Reed Richards? What about Mister Terrific or the Atom? If Batman's so smart, why isn't he flying around in a suit of armor akin to Iron Man? 

Even if Batman is the smartest superhero in DC, is he more intelligent than the smartest superhero in Marvel? It's seemingly impossible (without the help of one of these incredibly intelligent heroes) to judge who exactly is at the top of the smartest superheroes list. But, when comparing their accolades, inventions, and the results of their various in-universe intelligence contests, it starts to get a little clearer as to which of these heroes is the smartest of them all. 

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  • 1
    1,002 VOTES

    Reed Richards was a genius long before he became a hero. During a mission into space, exposure to cosmic rays gave Richards the ability to expand his material body, but still, his expansive mind remains the most fantastic thing about him. 

    Richards attended college at the young age of 14, earning four degrees by his 18th birthday. As one of the world's premier minds, he was recruited for the Illuminati, a collection of the world's greatest and most powerful heroes. As an Illuminati member, his greatest invention was the Antimatter Injection System, a detonation device the Illuminati could use to destroy incoming Earths during a multi-dimensional incursion. The Illuminati wasn't the only group of intelligent individuals Reed worked with. He also built an inter-dimensional portal known as the Bridge that allowed him to contact the Council of Reeds. This council was a group of Reed Richards that had met up and begun to take over all of reality. 

    After Secret Wars, Reed used his vast intelligence to help Molecule Man and Franklin Richards recreate the entire universe. As far as achievements go, rebuilding the universe isn't too shabby. 

    1,002 votes
  • 2
    990 VOTES

    Tony Stark, adopted son of billionaire industrialist Howard Stark, was a genius at a young age and attended MIT at only 15 years old. After being taken by terrorists, Tony used his mental prowess to develop the first version of the Iron Man armor. 

    Tony Stark is an incredible mechanical engineer. He's Marvel's answer to Batman in the sense that he's a brilliant tactician and strategist, once taking on Mister Fantastic in five simultaneous games of chess and winning. Alongside mechanical engineering, he's an incredible software engineer, as he has developed multiple incredibly advanced artificial intelligences.

    What was possibly Tony Stark's most impressive achievement came after he magically lost all his morals (read Axis for more info on that). He created an app called Extremis 3.0, which could turn anyone into a perfect physical specimen, curing all of their ailments. The "lack of morals" part? He initially gave it out for free, got people hooked, and then charged $99.99 a day for continued usage. Pretty clever! 

    990 votes
  • 3
    803 VOTES

    Bruce Banner has a doctorate in nuclear physics from Caltech and is the world's foremost expert on gamma radiation. Banner worked for the military, where he created the world's first gamma bomb, which eventually turned him into his monstrous alter ego, the incredible Hulk. 

    Norman Osborn considered Banner to be the fourth smartest person in the world (although he didn't specify who took the other spots on that list). Typically, Banner doesn't get a ton of time to prove his intelligence, as he's constantly trying to hide far enough away from mankind that Hulk can't do any damage. However, in one storyline, Banner finally found time to clean up his act and acquire scientific funding from S.H.I.E.L.D. With the proper space to finally flex his scientific muscles, his inventions shocked even the likes of Tony Stark - the most impressive of which was his Catalytic Converter, a device that could nullify carcinogens in practically anything (effectively curing cancer). 

    803 votes
  • 4
    739 VOTES

    Thanks to his father's radiation exposure, Henry McCoy is a rare mutant who has shown signs of his mutation from birth. Henry is both brawn and brains, and he grew up with a super-human intellect to match his animal-like strength, reflexes, and agility. McCoy was one of Xavier's first recruits into the X-Men. 

    McCoy has six degrees and is considered to be one of the eight smartest people in the world. His achievements in science range across all subjects, including curing the Legacy virus, creating a more advanced version of Cerebro dubbed Cerebra, and building a time travel machine. 

    739 votes
  • Henry Pym is known across the world for the discovery of the Pym Particle, which can increase or decrease an object or person's size. He used this discovery to become a founding Avenger known as Ant-Man. 

    Henry Pym is a man known for his failures as much as his successes. A prime example of both is Ultron. Pym's brilliant mind created the most intelligent AI on the planet, dubbed Ultron, which then tried to wipe out humanity (again and again and again). And while that's obviously a pretty big failure, the sheer power, strategy, and inability to be terminated showcased by Ultron all lead to the same conclusion: Henry Pym is a genius inventor. 

    In Mighty Avengers #30, Hank Pym received his highest accolade yet. The personification of Eternity called Hank Pym to stand in his presence, where he informed Pym that he was the other side of the Doctor Strange coin. Meaning, Henry Pym is the Scientist Supreme of Earth. 

    644 votes
  • 6
    497 VOTES
    Brainiac 5
    Photo: DC Comics

    The name "Brainiac" may not conjure images of heroism, but his distant relative in the future, Queri Dox, was a longstanding member of the Legion of Superheroes. Dox took on Brainiac's name in an attempt to atone for the original Brainiac's sins, and so far, it's definitely been working. 

    While most heroes are considered geniuses among humans, Brainiac 5 is considered to be a genius even amongst his race of android geniuses. He is a 12th-level intellect. All of Earth, even in the 31st century, is only a ninth-level intellect, and other members of his race are typically only 10th-level intellects.

    As a member of the Legion, Brainiac 5 puts his brains to good use. For starters, he's the inventor of the famed Legion Flight Ring, a small ring that, as its name implies, grants its wearer the ability to fly. 

    497 votes