The Smartest Comic Book Supervillains Of All Time

List Rules
Vote up the villains smart enough to think their way out of any corner.

Most comic fans would agree Lex Luthor is the smartest supervillain in DC and Doctor Doom is the smartest supervillain in Marvel. But is that actually the case? They're certainly the most famous smart bad guys in their respective universes - but are either of them actually the smartest supervillain of all time? There are a lot of deep cuts out there that give both of these comic book heavyweights a run for their money. 

If Reed Richards is the smartest superhero (which he is), then it stands to reason that the Maker (an evil Reed Richards) is among the smartest supervillains - if not the actual smartest. Or what about Otto Octavius, a villain so smart he actually defeated his arch-nemesis and took over for Spider-Man? If Lex Luthor is so smart, why can't he ever seem to best Superman? It's about time it was declared once and for all who the smartest supervillain really is. 


  • 1
    161 VOTES

    Even in an era where the Fantastic Four haven't had the best success at the box office, Doctor Doom remains one of the most enduring and terrifying villains in all of comics. Unlike most other minds in the Marvel Universe, Doctor Doom is a master of science and magic, being far too intelligent to choose a side between the two. 

    One of Doom's greatest inventions is his Doombots, a feat of engineering and artificial intelligence. Almost making those feel quaint, though, was the time he stole the powers of a god and reshaped all of reality in his own image in Hickman's Secret Wars, declaring himself God Emperor Doom. 

    Doom's intelligence is best highlighted by comparing his plans to all other so-called supervillains. Unlike others who constantly try and fail to take over the world, Doom has secured diplomatic immunity for himself by becoming the ruler of the sovereign nation of Latveria. To use a bit of meme lingo, that's a big-brain move. 

    161 votes
  • 2
    130 VOTES
    Photo: DC Comics

    Brainiac, real name Vril Dox, is quite possibly the smartest being in the DC Universe. A group of 6th-level intellect aliens (that means they were really smart) got together and tried to build a 10th-level intellect in the form of an AI. This AI was way too smart for them to control, replicated itself a bunch of times, and then attempted to create a 12th-level intellect that would be a living computer. It succeeded and created Brainiac.  

    Brainiac's exploits are long and varied. He has mastered cloning, he shrank an entire city on Krypton and put it into a bottle, he's a robotics genius, and he basically just spends his time roaming the galaxy in search of new discoveries and places to conquer. 

    130 votes
  • 3
    117 VOTES
    Lex Luthor
    Photo: DC Comics

    In the DC Universe, Lex Luthor's name is synonymous with brilliance. Bruce Wayne was born into wealth and was handed his company. Tony Stark was born into wealth and was handed his company. Lex Luthor? Luthor was born in the slums and grew up to build one of the most powerful companies in the world. 

    As a villain, Luthor has to be smart. There's a reason Metropolis is a much cleaner, safer city than Gotham. It's protected by the premier superhero. To outsmart the most powerful being alive is constant work and effort, but Luthor makes it look easy.

    In recent stories, Luthor has managed to join the Justice League, take over Darkseid's role on Apokolips, replace Superman in Metropolis, and create the Legion of Doom.

    117 votes
  • 4
    85 VOTES

    High Evolutionary

    Herbert Wyndham, AKA the High Evolutionary, was inspired by Mister Sinister to start performing some freelance genetic experimentation of his own. His work into genetic alteration eventually led him to get expelled from Oxford, but that didn't deter him from playing god.

    The High Evolutionary is possibly best known for turning animals into humanoid beings. At one point in time, the High Evolutionary was able to separate himself from his consciousness and became a disembodied intelligence. The High Evolutionary once created Counter-Earth, which was basically an exact replica of Earth that orbited on the exact opposite side of the sun from the regular Earth. There's basically no limit to what the High Evolutionary is capable of creating.  

    85 votes
  • Mister Sinister is the premier geneticist in the Marvel Universe and has managed to survive since his birth in the early 1800s. His habit of experimenting on children has more than earned him the Sinister in his name. Speaking of experimenting on mutant children, it was actually Sinister who created the ruby red glasses Scott Summers (Cyclops) must wear to keep his laser eyes in check. Sinister also managed to create a clone of Jean Grey that her consciousness later inhabited post-Phoenix Force disaster. 

    Mister Sinister turned himself into a mutant by splicing some of Thunderbird's DNA into his own. This allowed him a place in the new mutant nation of Krakoa, where he currently serves on the high council among mutant leaders like Charles Xavier, Magneto, and Apocalypse. 

    94 votes
  • 6
    84 VOTES

    Superman is strong, and his arch-nemesis, his perfect foil, Lex Luthor, is smart. In the world of Marvel, that duality continues, and the Leader serves as the brains to oppose the Hulk's mighty brawn. 

    Interestingly enough, paralleling how Banner wasn't born strong, Samuel Sterns wasn't born smart. In fact, by all accounts, he was below average in intelligence. He was a high school dropout who began work at a chemical research plant. While there, a gamma radiation accident blessed Samuel Sterns with incredible intelligence. Now too good for his old name, Sterns took on a new, much more ominous title: the Leader. 

    The Hulk's strength has no upper limit, and neither does the Leader's intelligence. To fully comprehend how intelligent the Leader is, it's best to just think of his more material opposite, the Hulk, and then just think, "The Leader is just as smart as Hulk is strong." The Leader has a photographic memory and can remember every detail of his life since his accident. He's a brilliant tactician and can predict the future with such accuracy that he's almost psychic. 

    The official Marvel website lists his intelligence as a 6, the same rating given to Reed Richards. 

    84 votes