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The Smartest Comic Book Superheroes Of All Time

March 8, 2021 9.4k votes 1.2k voters 163.5k views18 items

List RulesVote 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. 

  • 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. 

    Super smart?
  • 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! 

    Super smart?
  • 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). 

    Super smart?
  • 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. 

    Super smart?