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The Smartest Comic Book Supervillains Of All Time

March 29, 2021 1.4k votes 171 voters 14k views17 items

List RulesVote 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. 

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  • Hank McCoy is one of the smartest beings in the Marvel Universe. That simple fact is what makes the sheer idea of Dark Beast so terrifying. He's a being with all of McCoy's intelligence but none of the moral compass. 

    Dark Beast is from a universe where he never studied under Xavier. Instead, Dark Beast became a skilled geneticist working under Mister Sinister. He's responsible for the creation of his universe's Wolverine, and his own beastly appearance was a result of experimentation on himself. In one of his darker experiments, he turned all of the Power Pack siblings into a disgusting Cronenberg-style monster. 

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  • George Tarleton was an AIM technician chosen to be experimented on for a special project. In an attempt to create a human-computer, AIM scientists mutated Tarleton's brain and turned him into an incredibly intelligent being. The only problem was that his head was now too big for his body to hold up, so they had to create a special device to carry him around.

    This mental upgrade allowed Tarleton to take over AIM, and he dubbed himself M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing). 

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  • Photo: DC Comics

    Ozymandias, AKA Adrian Veidt, is known as the smartest man on the planet, and, surprisingly, that's no hyperbole.

    Ozymandias initially used his vast intelligence to become a costumed superhero, but after his retirement, he set a master plan into action. While his methods weren't necessarily morally upright, no one can argue with their end result. Veidt managed to end the threat of nuclear war and brought about world peace by creating a giant monster to act as a common enemy to humanity. 

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  • Photo: DC Comics

    Everyone knows the Joker, but few realize how intelligent he really is. Just like the greatest comedians in real life, he's a lot smarter than his silly antics would lead you to believe. Joker's intelligence isn't a hard argument to make, either. The Joker is able to keep Batman, the smartest man in the world, on his toes. That alone means he's a genius. 

    One of the most famous comics fans point to during discussions of Batman's intelligence is JLA: Tower of Babel. In this book, it's revealed Batman has contingency plans for all the other members of the Justice League, and although he's the least powerful, he could defeat all of them. In a more recent storyline, it was revealed Joker did the exact same thing with his Legion of Doom. Joker joined the Legion, but as he always does, he had ulterior motives. When the time came, he systematically took down his fellow leaguers. The thing about Joker is he's always in control, and the entire DC Universe should count themselves lucky Joker wants to continue playing his little games. In a recent series called Joker War, Joker decided he wanted to take down Batman instead of messing around, and he was able to lay siege to Gotham and swipe the entirety of the Wayne fortune. 

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