Written by Thomas O’Connor A great mind can be a dangerous thing. Welcome to animated times.com, we’re counting down our Top 8 Smartest Super villains of all time. For this list we’re looking at a bunch of super villains who rely on their genius intellects rather than physical might to beat their opponents.
It’s pretty hard to beat the Incredible Hulk in the strength department, but this villain does not have to. While most people exposed to gamma rays or at least, the Marvel comics version of gamma rays develop incredible strength, Samuel Sterns was instead gifted super-intellect as a result of gamma exposure. In addition to being a super genius, he has powerful telekinetic and telepathic powers, including the ability to control others, bending them to his evil will. Naturally, he’s been a recurring foil for the Hulk and his allies, but Hulk’s raw strength always manages to overcome his foe’s superior brainpower, much to Sterns’s chagrin.
7. The Riddler
It’s often been speculated that if The Riddler weren’t so obsessed with games that hubristically show off his intelligence, constantly leaving clues and puzzles that lead his foes right to him if correctly solved, he’d be an almost unstoppable criminal mastermind. Regardless, he’s given Batman a run for his money more than a few times. One time, he even worked with the villain Hush in a scheme that nearly ended Batman once and for all. This is one villain you don’t want to underestimate.
6. Doctor Octopus
An eight-armed megalomaniac with a serious axe to grind, this classic Spider-Man foe is far more than just a dude with some metal appendages. Originally a genius physicist working for the U.S Atomic Research Center, the future villain invented an elaborate set of mechanical arms to help him handle hazardous materials. But an accident bonded the arms to his body and drove him insane, turning him into one of the Web-Head’s oldest foes. In addition to his arms, Doc Ock is a master planner and manipulator and even found a way to transfer his mind into Spidey’s body when he discovered he was dying of cancer, becoming the Superior Spider-Man.
On the surface, his villain is an altruistic, charismatic force for good. But underneath his veneer of respectability lurks a cold, calculating mind that is willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish what he deems to be the greater good. A natural-born genius, the hero turned villain is commonly believed to be the smartest man on the planet, and his knack for manipulation and problem solving certainly backs this up. His secret plan managed to end the Cold War and brought about world peace… at the cost of countless lives. How many supervillains have that kind of track record?
They say the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he did not exist, and Superman’s arch nemesis pulled a very similar trick. While we could talk about the classic villain’s scientific acumen, which has helped him craft mechanical super-suits and scores of other dangerous inventions, his greatest feat is how he spent years thwarting any attempt to reveal his evil to the public. Despite the best efforts of Superman and the Daily Planet, the vast majority of the public believed that the billionaire industrialist was one of the good guys he was even elected president of the United States. Alexander Luthor Jr, his son from an alternate time line, might even be smarter than his father.
You don’t get a name like that for nothing. Another classic Superman foe who uses brains rather than brawn when he goes up against the Man of Steel, this alien lifeform from the planet Colu is obsessed with the collection and cataloging of lifeforms from across the cosmos and his obsession has led him face to face with Superman on many occasion. Perhaps his most notorious feat, he once arrived on Krypton before it was destroyed, capturing and miniaturizing the city of Kandor for his collection. At least his descendant Brainiac-5, is a force for good, using his genius intellect as a member of the Legion of Superheroes.
2. The High Evolutionary
Genetic engineering is pretty tricky stuff, but this Marvel villain makes it look easy. Originally a geneticist from 1920s Earth, his controversial obsession with unlocking the secrets of the human genome resulted in his expulsion from Oxford. Rather than let this get him down, he eventually developed a machine that allowed him to accelerate his own evolution, extending his lifespan and granting him incredible powers. Since then, he’s used his incredible mind to advance his genetic research in new and sometimes terrifying ways. He’s even partly responsible for the creation of Adam Warlock, having gifted Warlock with a new name and the powerful Soul Gem after his re-birth.
Clifford DeVoe was a failed lawyer who bitterly ended his career in 1933. Realizing that many of the criminals he had encountered had the skills but not the brains to rule Gotham City’s underworld, he started a new career as the brain behind small-time villains. As the Thinker, he was defeated by the original Flash,his most recurrent foe. He always sought out new scientific devices to use and his most important was the “Thinking Cap”, a metal hat that could project mental force. The Thinker would use this device repeatedly over the years. The Thinker was a member of the Injustice Society, leading an army of prison escapees like the other members. In Plateau City, the police nab a shabbily dressed man who is trying to shoot the governor. They discover that this man is a dead ringer for the governor and also claims to be the real governor. The Flash arrives on the scene to overhear this, but moves on to confront the hoodlums attacking the city. The Thinker appears on the scene, firing a ray at the Crimson Comet, causing him to gain weight and crash through a roof. Recovering, the Flash speeds over the governor’s mansion, only to overhear the governor ordering all police forces to surrender. Flash enters his office and discovers the governor to be a dummy/machine, which flees through an open door. Flash attempts to warn the police that a phony governor put out the message, but the Thinker shows up and tells the Fastest Man Alive that he is speaking into a dead mic, then snares him with invisible wires.