The word superhero usually brings images of muscular people that are capable of incredible feats of strength. Characters like Thor, Captain America, Colossus, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Captain Marvel are usually the first to come to mind…and rightfully so. These characters are the pillars on which their respective teams were built. The problem, however, is that strength is only one metric by which superheroes are measured. Another, and often underrated, is intelligence.
Many of the greatest inventions, buildings, and advancements in the comic book universe could never have happened without intelligence. Think about it. The Baxter Building, the Blackbird, Arc Reactor technology, and most of the technological advancements in Wakanda couldn’t have happened.
Every superhero possesses some degree of intelligence. The question is, of them all, who possesses the most? I mean, who are the smartest superheroes in comics?
Shuri is just the first member of the Wakandan royal family to appear on this list. She is known to be a genius just like her brother, and is responsible for several groundbreaking discovers regarding vibranium.
Not only is she a world-class scientist on the rise, but she is also likewise a tactical genius and quite a skilled diplomat.
The last think that would have hit your mind when we’re talking about Superman is to take his intelligence into account, as he is mostly notable for being the strongest superhero in DC comics.
But it’s true. Superman landed himself on this list because of the Kryptonian physiology that gave him incredibly advanced brain structure. This means that Superman has both the ability and capacity to process information much faster than your average human being, or other superheroes. He might not have intelligence feats, but rest assured, Superman is crazy smart.
13. Bruce Banner
Without taking Hulk’s primitive personality into account, Bruce is known among the best nuclear physicists in the Marvel comic universe. He demonstrated his brilliance by easily reprogramming complex computer systems and infecting them with viruses that even Tony Stark couldn’t counteract. Bruce’s IQ was stated to be 160.
Peter Parker is the quiet type of genius. He excelled throughout his formal education and, from an early age, proved himself to be an extremely capable and talented inventor. He has been acknowledged by prestigious institutions like Horizon Labs and praised by brilliant minds like Hank Pym. Spider-Man’s IQ is stated to be 250
11. Barry Allen
Not only is Barry Allen among the fastest characters ever created in the world of comics, but he is also among the smartest.
Barry Allen’s IQ has never been officially stated in the comics, but we can assume that it’s anywhere between 130 and 160 due to his being classified as a genius. He is a highly accomplished scientist well-versed in chemistry, forensic pathology, pedagogy, computer operation, and mechanical engineering. He can, due to his powers, process information incredibly quickly.
10. Amadeus Cho
At the tender age of 15, Amadeus Cho entered an academic competition for gifted youngsters. His victory caught the attention of Pythagoras Dupree, the self-proclaimed 6th most intelligent person in the world. What nobody knew was that Dupree created the competition as a way to learn who else was as smart as him. After learning Amadeus was as smart as he was, Dupree set out to and successfully murdered his parents.
Now on the road, Cho befriended the Incredible Hulk. Over time, the two became exceptionally good friends. Their friendship was so strong that eventually, Amadeus used his nanotechnology to absorb the excess radiation from the Hulk. With nowhere to put it, he transferred it into his own body, turning himself into the Incredible Hulk.
Simply put, Amadeus Cho is one of the smartest superheroes in comics. This isn’t because he won an intelligence competition. No. Not even close. Amadeus Cho is one of the smartest superheroes in comics because he developed technology that enabled him to become the Hulk.
It should come as no surprise that Beast appeared on this list. Not only is he the brainchild behind most of the cool toys the X-Men have, but he’s also why the team occasionally receives good publicity.
At his heart, Beast is a world-leading geneticist. His specialty is, of course, mutation, and this plays an important role in everything he does. Beast is fascinated with how and why some people go through mutation in their teenage years, and some don’t. His fascination has led him to trial-run many experiments on himself…each with varying degrees of success. The most obvious of these caused his mutation to progress and transformed him from a man into the blue-furred X-Man we know him as today.
8. Hank Pym
Like Beast, Hank Pym is arguably the smartest member of the team he’s on. Hank Pym is an Avenger and, as an Avenger, has fought some of the vilest villains in history: Kang, Loki, Dr. Doom, Skrulls, Baron Zemo.
Hank is Ant-Man. As Ant-Man, he can shrink and grow to practically any size he wants. He’s able to do this through the use of his own very intelligent invention, Pym Particles. Although Hank Pym is intelligent beyond measure, he’s also done some less-than-intelligent things. I’m sure you’ve heard of Ultron, haven’t you?
7. The Atom
Shortly after we met Ray Palmer for the first time, we learned that he was experimenting to solve world problems such as famine. As a result of his experiments, he began using the matter of a dwarf star to shrink objects.
Once forced to use the matter on himself, Ray learned that he could shrink down and grow back to normal size without consequence. Unwilling to simply let the technology go to waste, he armed himself with it (and a super costume) and became The Atom.
Ray Palmer is a highly sought-after scientist in the DC Universe. He’s a member of numerous Justice League teams, has appeared on several television shows, and will probably end up appearing in the DCEU. He is Marvel’s equivalent of Ant-Man and, as such, one of the most intelligent characters in all of comics.
Although she first appeared as Batgirl, it wasn’t until her time as Oracle that we learned Barbara Gordon was one of the smartest superheroes in comics.
As Oracle, rather than being able to fight one crime at a time, she could fight an unlimited amount of crimes. This meant that she became the eyes and research station for nearly every hero in DC.
Oracle forced Barbara to rely on something other than her hands and feet….her brain. She suddenly began to tap into her expansive knowledge of science, her above-normal intelligence, her photographic memory, and most importantly, her connections that were scattered across the DC Universe.
Without any over-exaggeration, Barbara was the most important character in DC. And that very notion is the reason she easily makes this “smartest superheros in the comics” list.
5. Iron Man
While the real world looks for alternatives to oil, Tony Stark has already invented it. The Arc Reactor is what powers his Iron Man suit. However, it’s more than that. The Arc Reactor is also a viable and safe clean energy source.
Aside from solving the clean energy problem with his Arc Reactor technology, Tony Stark has also invented many of the Avengers planes, weapons, suits, and buildings. In addition, he has given the world the most advanced form of Artificial Intelligence that it has ever seen. To say that Tony Stark is only one of the smartest superheroes in comics is doing a massive disservice to the character.
Batman is the most prepared hero in DC Comics. This is so much that he practically has a way of beating every other character under the DC brand…heroes and villains alike. Yep. It’s true. He really does.
In the ‘Towel of Babel’ storyline, Ra’s al Ghul discovered a way to beat each member of the Justice League in battle. After discovering the way, he systematically used it to bring down the team.
When questions began to arise as to how this was possible, the team learned that he stole the plans from Batman. As I’m sure you can imagine, this caused a massive amount of friction between him and his fellow Justice League members.
Whether or not keeping a how-to guide on his teammates is a good idea is up for debate. What’s not up for debate is how intelligent it is to know the weaknesses of your enemies AND friends.
3. Mr. Terrific
Where do I even begin? Before he became Mr. Terrific, Michael Holt managed to snag 14 Ph.D.’s. That’s not a typo. 14 Ph.D.’s!
He had also become both an Olympic Gold Medalist and a multi-millionaire. How did he do this? Simple.
Michael Holt absorbs, comprehends, and uses every ounce of information that he learns quicker than he learns it. And this isn’t limited to textbook information. He has also mastered nearly every form of martial arts and therefore solidified himself as one of DC’s best fighters.
After the accidental death of his wife and unborn child, Michael Holt wanted to make more of his life. Realizing that he couldn’t fight crime without help, he developed a suit, transformed into Mr. Terrific, and took to the streets.
2. Black Panther
As the leader of Wakanda, T’Challa is the wealthiest person in all of Marvel Comics. Don’t for a second think that he inherited his wealth without putting in some work. Before he could assume the throne, T’Challa underwent many years of study. His studies led him to achieve doctorates in the following: Engineering, Economics, Physics, Political Science, Psychology.
If you’re keeping track, a simple count shows that he has five doctorates. Five!
If it weren’t for his duties as the leader of Wakanda, Black Panther might well be THE smartest superhero at Marvel.
1. Reed Richards
For many good reasons, many people claim that Reed Richards is the smartest superhero in comics. He’s the leader of the Fantastic Four, an invaluable member of the Illuminati, and always called upon when “big picture” thinking is required.
Reed Richards possesses multiple doctorates, a few of which come from Columbia and Harvard. Each of these has propelled him to do some amazing things. For example, he invented everything that makes the Baxter Building unique, created the many vehicles the Fantastic Four uses, and almost always devised a plan to thwart Dr. Doom.
Not including Reed Richards on this list of the smartest superheroes in comics would be like driving a car into a house…just plain dumb.
And that’s it. The smartest superheroes in comics. What do you think? Who would make your smartest superheroes in comics list?