15 Times 'Genius' MCU Villains Were Outsmarted

List Rules
Vote up the MCU moments that villains should have put a little more thought into.

The smartest MCU villains are often outsmarted in the most mundane of ways. As it turns out, when a villain spends all their time dreaming of grand schemes of intergalactic domination, they can forget about the little things in life. And, then, heroes can exploit those little things to utterly destroy the villains and end their reigns of terror. (Luckily for these villains, just because they have been utterly destroyed doesn't mean they can't return to the land of the living.) 

Not even the most intelligent MCU villain dreaming of the most evil MCU plans can stand a chance against these clever heroes. Whether it is a sleight-of-hand technique that brings down the great Titan or a movie reference that ruins the day of an alien conqueror, it apparently doesn't take too much thinking to take down these genius villains. 


  • Doctor Strange Trapped Dormammu In A Time Loop
    Photo: Doctor Strange / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Dormammu is the supremely powerful ruler of the dark dimension. Yet, In Doctor Strange, Dormammu is defeated by a magic-wielder who had been studying for hardly a year. 

    Strange outsmarts Dormammu by trapping the powerful being in a time loop. Every time Dormammu slays Strange, time is reset. Dormammu eventually has no choice but to agree with Strange's demands to leave Earth. His powers are nothing compared to Doctor Strange's very annoying, yet clever, use of the Time Stone. 

    888 votes
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    759 VOTES

    Tony Stark Tricked His Captors Into Helping Him Build The Original Iron Man Suit

    Tony Stark Tricked His Captors Into Helping Him Build The Original Iron Man Suit
    Photo: Iron Man / Paramount Pictures

    Tony Stark begins his journey into becoming Iron Man after getting captured by a group of terrorists known as the Ten Rings. In exchange for Stark's freedom, the leader of the Ten Rings orders Stark to build a Jericho missile for the terrorists. 

    Instead, Stark works for days building the original Iron Man suit behind his captors' backs. Up until the point Stark blasts his way out of the cave he's trapped in, the Ten Rings members are none the wiser. 

    759 votes
  • Scarlet Witch Trapped Agatha Harkness With Runes After Agatha Used The Same Trap
    Photo: WandaVision / Disney+

    Scarlet Witch is the most naturally powerful witch in the MCU, but she's not the most knowledgeable. That position (at least with what audiences have been shown) goes to Agatha Harkness. Throughout the events depicted in WandaVision, Agatha manages to get close to Scarlet Witch in an attempt to manipulate the troubled woman and take her powers. However, as intelligent and knowledgeable as she is, Agatha slips up by giving Scarlet Witch a front-row seat to some of her spells. 

    As Agatha shows Scarlet Witch, when one witch casts her runes in a room, the other witch can't use any spells. Scarlet Witch later uses this same concept on a much greater scale by casting runes on the walls of her massive dome surrounding Westview. Thus, in what should be Agatha's moment of triumph, she is instead swiped of her magical abilities. 

    694 votes
  • Iron Man Stole The Infinity Stones Out Of Thanos's Hand
    Photo: Avengers: Endgame / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Thanos is without a doubt the most intelligent and driven villain in the MCU. In the films, Thanos manages to track down all of the Infinity Stones and rewrite all of existence to eliminate half of all life. Thanos achieves his goal, utterly defeating all of the world's heroes, and then retires. 

    To recover the lost lives, the Avengers resort to time travel. Even while taking such drastic measures, the Thanos of the past manages to outsmart them and makes his way to the current timeline, where he lays siege to the Avengers Compound. In the skirmish, Thanos recovers the Infinity Gauntlet and tries to snap out half the galaxy once again. He's only defeated because Iron Man deploys some clever sleight of hand. Stark makes it look like he's going for the gauntlet, but in reality, he swipes the gems off of it and performs a snap of his own, eliminating Thanos from the universe. 

    711 votes
  • Iron Man Exploited The Iron Monger's Design Flaws In Higher Atmosphere
    Photo: Iron Man / Paramount Pictures

    There are few people more conniving than Obadiah Stane. Stane was the business partner of Howard Stark who took over Stark Industries as interim CEO until Tony was old enough to grab the reins. Naturally, Stane doesn't like that Tony has taken over, so Stane decides to hire terrorists to eliminate Tony. After Tony makes it out alive and announces Stark Industries will no longer deal in arms, Stane manages to reverse engineer Stark's original Iron Man design in an effort to face off against the young Stark. 

    Stark is at a huge disadvantage without his arc reactor, but still, he manages to outsmart Stane. Stane didn't build his armor; he just stole Tony's designs, so he doesn't understand its flaws as well as Tony does. Thus, when Tony flies out into the upper atmosphere, Stane follows without realizing the extreme cold temperatures will freeze his suit, causing him to plummet back to Earth. 

    575 votes
  • Black Widow Infiltrated Alexander Goodwin Pierce's Endgame
    Photo: Captain America: The Winter Soldier / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Alexander Goodwin Pierce is, on the outside, an intelligent member of S.H.I.E.L.D. who sits on the World Security Council. In reality, Pierce secretly works for the sinister Hydra and is plotting to help the organization take over the world. 

    Just as Pierce managed to put on a false face and join organizations he secretly wants to burn down, Black Widow manages to sneak her way into a World Security Meeting through the use of a Photostatic Veil. This veil gives her the appearance of one of the security members and allows her to get close enough to Pierce to strike out in time to stop him from executing the Security Council members. 

    494 votes