Tony Stark is one of the premiere geniuses of the Marvel Universe. By the time he was in his twenties he was already the head of a multi-billion dollar company that made most of its money off his own inventions. But that was just the beginning, as he would go on to create the Iron Man armor, one of the single most impressive (and dangerous) pieces of technology humanity has ever made...and that was just while he was trapped in a cave (with a box of scraps).
Still, the Marvel Universe is full of geniuses of all stripes, and there’s more than a single kind of intelligence. While everyone knows characters like Reed Richards and Doctor Doom are smarter than Tony, there are plenty of others out there who surpass him as well. Some you may never have even heard of.
10 BLACK PANTHER
When people think of T’Challa, they usually don’t think about his intelligence, or think about him being incredibly smart. Mostly because he’s great at literally everything else, so it almost seems unfair that he’s a genius as well. But sometimes life is unfair, and so is the King of Wakanda. His nation is the most advanced in the world thanks to their access to vibranium, and as the head of the country he was trained in all of the sciences from the very beginning. T’Challa has both outmaneuvered Stark before and been on the same team as him in the Illuminati, a group of men considered to be the most intelligent in their field.
9 PROFESSOR XAVIER
While people tend to acknowledge Xavier’s intelligence, they mostly do so in relation to his powers as a telepath, which are almost unmatched. However, Xavier was a genius long before people knew about his X-Gene. He’s gained doctorates in multiple fields from genetics (naturally), biophysics, psychology, and anthropology. He’s also spent several years leading the X-Men, making him a genius tactician. He’s so smart he was invited to be a member of the Illuminati, a group of humans who were in charge of watching over the Infinity Gems. Each gem was given to a different person to be the guardian over, with Charles being granted the Mind Gem, something which could make him even smarter, if he chose.
8 VALERIA RICHARDS
Children are meant to surpass their parents. But when one of your parents is Reed Richards, the smartest man in the world, it raises questions as to whether the goal has been set too high. Valeria doesn’t seem to be concerned about this however, as even at her young age she’s already proven to be roughly on her father’s level (and far surpassing his contemporary Tony Stark in the process) in terms of intelligence, having learned everything about what he’s written and building on it. Though she may not have the ability to manipulate reality like her brother, she was certainly able to help him recreate it.
7 AMADEUS CHO
Amadeus was once described as the “seventh most intelligent person in the world”. While one might assume Tony Stark would rank within the first six, that might be moving just a little too fast. Cho is scary smart, being complimented by a number of people who might not even consider Stark worth notice.
He’s been referred to as smarter than some immortals by one of the Eternals, and been considered to be smarter than both Athena and Hephaestus. Probably most interesting is Cho once proved capable of removing the power of the Hulk from Bruce Banner, ensuring he would have a normal life, while he not only took the power, but managed to control it for some time.
6 HANK PYM
People usually associate Hank with the worst sides of him. His histrionics and the fact that he once created a robot which is still one of the greatest villains the Avengers have ever faced. But despite the negatives, Hank’s still incredibly smart. He’s gotten doctorates in biochemistry and nanotechnology, discovering the Pym particles which allow him to shrink or grow. He was also once pronounced as the Scientist Supreme by Eternity, largely because Hank always seeks to make the impossible possible. He’s found ways to capture the gods themselves, and once set the Avengers up in a pocket dimension containing an Infinite Avengers Mansion.
Admittedly, people rarely think about David Alleyne, or Prodigy, much at all. The character was introduced only a few years before M-Day, which de-powered a number of mutants, including Prodigy himself. Prodigy’s initial mutant ability involved him being able to absorb the knowledge of anyone within his range, but forgetting it if they were somehow taken out of his range. But after he lost his powers, the Stepford Cuckoos took away the mental block causing that limitation, allowing him to remember the knowledge of everyone he’d met—including geniuses like Beast and Professor Xavier. He’s got more untapped knowledge than most other humans could dream of.
4 NADIA PYM
While Tony Stark spent much of his teenage years drinking and trying to impress every woman within earshot, Nadia has spent her entire life honing all of her abilities. Trained by the Red Room, the same agents responsible for Natasha Romanov, it didn’t escape them that they had the daughter of Hank Pym.
Speaking of Hank, she’s already mastered all of her father’s tech and using Pym particles to traverse the multiverse. More recently she’s been taking after her mentor Janet Van Dyne, running G.I.R.L. to try and discover genius young women and give them a place to showcase their abilities, the same way Janet once brought more women superheroes to prominence in the Avengers.
3 THE BLUE MARVEL
Adam Brashear was already a genius when he went into the study of anti-matter, attempting to discover an unlimited and clean energy source. But when his research went bad, both he and his close friend found themselves subjected to energies which transformed them forever. In that accident he was also gifted with an enhanced mental perception which is better than any human’s. And most of his time is spent at the bottom of the ocean, working on technology which surpasses most inventions Iron Man’s ever thought of, nevermind actually been capable of building.
2 BRUCE BANNER
Bruce should probably be spoken of in the same breath as Tony Stark and Reed Richards, but isn’t because of a certain Green Guy that keeps him from ever actually getting to do whatever he wants. He’s been called the fourth smartest person on the planet by Norman Osborn, and even spent some time working alongside SHIELD to aid in his legacy. His first invention for them involved creating a purification unit which could eliminate all waterborne disease. Banner desires to be a true visionary in science, discovering what he doesn’t know while Tony settles for building forward from what he does.
1 LUNELLA LAFEYETTE
It’s been suggested by someone else on this list that Lunella Lafeyette is the smartest human being on the planet. She’s supposed to be an Inhuman, with a connection with her dinosaur that allows her to trade consciousnesses with it, but people rarely ever think about that. What people do think about is that she’s nine years old and has already solved a puzzle by Bruce Banner which was made to be literally impossible to figure out. Not only that, but she’s invented her own battle armor with customized equipment to aid in her adventures. None of this should be especially surprising: at some point or another we’ve all been convinced of an adolescent kid being smarter than most adults.