For a villain to match the heroism and strength of a superhero in the DC Universe, they must be able to outsmart them. There are many supervillains with genius level intellect across all DC's comics and many of them have been extremely successful by using their brains rather than their muscles.
Over the years there have been hundreds of antagonists who have tried to thwart their heroes with incredibly evil and dastardly clever plans. As we can only pick 10 of the smartest DC villains in all of the Universe, here are the brainiest and wisest super-foes ranked from least to most intelligent!
The Joker is the archenemy of Batman, who is the world's greatest detective after all. Despite the fact that the clown prince of crime is clearly insane, he is also incredibly intelligent. To stand any chance against the caped crusader, Joker has to be one step ahead of him at all times.
The madness actually influences his plans in some ways. Along with all his schemes being incredibly well thought out, there is also a level of unpredictability that most heroes just can't prepare for. He's been a significant enough character that he's now an experienced leader and has even been a member of the Legion of Doom as one of their more intelligent team players. He is not quite a super genius like the other villains on this list but he is worthy of the number 10 spot.
Minerva was an archaeologist and the owner of two PhDs before being turned into the villainous Cheetah. While her abilities have allowed her to enter the upper echelon of evil-doers in the DC Universe, her mind has always made sure that's she's above the rest of the pack.
She's super strong, incredibly agile, and poses a genuine physical threat to the likes of Wonder Woman, but her brain is one of her most useful assets. She's a capable leader but often finds herself in evil teams; she's indispensable when it comes to villainous plans though and is incredibly versatile in her knowledge. Her background in archaeology and the source of her powers means that's she also well versed in some of the magical and mythical artifacts present in the comics.
8 VANDAL SAVAGE
The time-traveling and immortal madman has a lot more going for him than just his never-aging appearance. The man was made into a god after colliding with a meteorite that granted him abilities, including super intelligence. He becomes part of the very nature of the multiverse and indeed the story of Earth, as he's been a very significant influence on human history.
One thing that puts Savage at an advantage compared to many of Earth's heroes is his experience, as he has learned many crucial lessons over his lifetime. His immortality grants him the ability to constantly grow while witnessing the births and deaths of countless civilizations. He's not to be taken lightly and is a formidable tactical opponent.
Sinestro, the founder of the Yellow Lantern Corps, is the archenemy of Hal Jordon and the Green Lanterns. His intelligence isn't a superpower but simply a part of the character. Sinestro is nearly always a step ahead of everyone else, with his vast wisdom often outwitting his opponents.
He's a natural born leader and the power of his mind allows him to create constructs from his yellow ring that are far superior to some of the green constructs produced by his enemies. His ability to retain information is crucial to his success and he learns a lesson from his every failure. While not a mad scientist or a super genius, he's just an intellectual alien who fears his own defeat.
It's no secret that Barry Allen is really intelligent. A forensic scientist by trade and a superhero that relies just as much on his mind as he does his super speed, the Flash is a character that values his own IQ. If there's going to be a villain that can stand up against that then it must be another super genius.
Eobard Thawne is a very clever man. He's a scientist and specializes in the speed force and all of the issues and abilities that come with having super speed. He is constantly striving to improve his own powers through science and is clever enough to invent a lot of technology capable of combating the scarlet speedster. Not only this, he understands time travel on a high level and his super speed allows him to learn new information incredibly quickly. Furthermore, Eobard is from the future, meaning he has an understanding of science not present in our time.
5 DOCTOR SIVANA
The Marvel family have their own supervillain and we're not talking about the competition owned by Disney. No, DC's own Marvel Family, lead by Shazam, has done battle with the evil Doctor Sivana for a number of years. He's a mad scientist in the truest of sense and has outwitted these heroes more times than we can count.
With a long and storied history in the comics, Sivana has developed from just a lab technician in a white coat to an expert in magic. He's studied it for some time and can actually perform some of the mystical arts with his left eye. He learned a few spells over the years but his research is dedicated to stopping Shazam at all costs. At some point, the good doctor actually managed to break down the mythological on a mathematical level, showing the nature of his intellect.
As the Watchmen series is being woven into the DC Universe much more heavily than before, Ozymandias deserves to be on this list as one of the smartest villains in the multiverse. He's often referred to as the smartest man on Earth and this isn't really disputed by anyone.
Adrian Veidt is a conqueror or Emperor of sorts and wants to mold the world into his way of thinking. He has built a criminal empire while using his enormous resources and power to shift the whole world towards something far more peaceful. His intelligence is key to his success and ultimate victory and his tactical abilities help to keep the heroes of Earth away from his master plan.
Darkseid is a god in every sense of the word. He has powers and abilities that only a deity should possess. The villain rules through his galactic empire that he forged through might and wisdom. He is a threat not only to the Justice League but the entire DC Universe and is one of the ultimate enemies of Earth's heroes.
Whilst his powers are ridiculously strong and unlimited, Darkseid is truly dangerous when he is thinking. Darkseid's abilities as a leader and as a key protagonist are from his tactical abilities and his genius level intellect. He's one of the smartest beings in the Universe and can easily outmaneuver many of the heroes of Earth due to his cosmic knowledge and experience over his years of conquering.
2 LEX LUTHOR
On Earth 1, it's more or less agreed that Lex Luthor is the smartest man in existence. He's been a mainstay of Superman's rogues gallery for most of the character's history and battles the man of steel with his brain rather than through any powers. All of his abilities come from his intelligence, with Luthor scientifically understanding his enemies before he can face them.
He has used Kryptonite many times to face the Kryptonian, inventing new and lethal ways to utilize the substance. He's created many battle suits that allow him to survive a fight with a god and is the leader of the Legion of Doom, who has been responsible for some of DC's most criminal activities. Recently, Luthor has also been harnessing the energies of the multiverse itself, finding power in studying the source code and all of existence.
There's no being, cosmic or Earthly, that is more intelligent, or more capable of higher thought than Brainiac. The villain has been a thorn in the side of the Justice League for years and has an obsession with studying and collecting all of the life in the universe. Brainiac is essentially a supercomputer and the character's many iterations, whether they be from the multiverse or from his own family, are all just as brainy.
His source of power comes from his mind, which Brainiac uses to manipulate events and rule over conquered planets. He can process and store infinite amounts of information in an instant and there appear to be very little limits to his capabilities. Only Luthor can actually be a match be Brainiac's mind but even he is still inferior to the mind of a biological machine.