A lot of characters in the MCU might solve problems through punching, but there are also a lot of intellectuals in the cinematic universe. While the tough guys like Thor and Hulk are often needed to save the day, sometimes it comes down to using a bit of brainpower.
Some of the smartest characters in the MCU are the heroes who use their wisdom and strength to fight evil. Other characters are the minds behind the heroes who provide them with all the fancy gadgets needed to save the world. But all these characters prove brains are as important as muscles at times. Here are the smartest characters in the MCU.
10 Arnim Zola
Arnim Zola is the only villain to appear on this list and he very much earns his place. Zola was introduced as the cowardly but brilliant scientist working for Red Skull. In this position, he managed to successfully harness the power of the Tesseract to make weapons.
After surrendering to S.H.I.E.L.D., Zola switched sides to work for them. However, he was secretly infiltrating the intelligence agency and helping rebuild Hydra from within. Most impressively, when dying, Zola found a way to successfully transfer his consciousness into a computer system, keeping him "alive" for decades.
9 Peter Parker
This high school kid from Queens might not look like one of the smartest people in the world, but looks can be deceiving. Aside from being a top student, Peter has used his intelligence to make Spider-Man an even greater hero.
He developed the amazing web-shooters himself which are ground-breaking technology. And while he might be one of the youngest Avengers, he is able to keep up with the rest of them in terms of the complex scientific situations they find themselves in. His giddiness over the potential of a multiverse shows what a nerd he is – in a good way.
Nebula may have started out as a villain and follower of Thanos, but luckily, she is now using her skills for good. She has already proven herself a valuable ally to the Guardians and Avengers not only as a fearsome warrior but also as a brilliant mechanic.
Nebula has previously been seen to have a strong knowledge of gadgetry, likely due to her many cybernetic enhancements. In Avengers: Endgame, we see she is equal to Tony Stark as they work to repair their ship and return to Earth.
7 Stephen Strange
Though many of the smartest heroes in the MCU focus on subjects that feel very comic book-esque, Stephen Strange's expertise is much more grounded in reality. Long before he became a master of the mystic arts, Strange was the top surgeon in the world.
Though he might not have been designing state-of-the-art weaponry or studying quantum physics, becoming a successful surgeon requires years of practice, study, and an exceptional mind. Strange then too the same path to become Sorcerer Supreme.
6 Jane Foster
The relationship between Thor and Jane foster is very much one of brawns and brains. Though he might be the all-powerful God of Thunder, she is one of the greatest scientific minds on Earth. It was her study of cosmic anomalies that led to her discovering Thor and the world of Asgard.
Her research is so extensive that S.H.I.E.L.D. actually confiscates her material for discovering too much and also so they can learn from her work. We will see where her scientific career has taken her when she makes her return to the MCU in Thor: Love and Thunder.
5 Hank Pym
Though Captain America might have predated him by a number of years, Hank Pym is actually one of Earth's very first superheroes. As the first Ant-Man, Pym worked with S.H.I.E.L.D. and managed to create the Pym Particles which allow humans to shrink down to nearly imperceptible size.
Not only is this technology astonishing, but also way ahead of its time. While other characters in the MCU have achieved mind-blowing things, Pym accomplished this in the 70s. Since then, he has continued to perfect the technology as well as build a quantum tunnel to travel to the Quantum Realm.
4 Rocket Raccoon
Rocket is one of the most interesting characters in the MCU. His tragic origins have yet to be revealed, but however he was created, it resulted in an angry, violent and brilliant creature. Though he can be somewhat unstable, Rocket is certainly the brains of the Guardians and held his own with the Avengers as well.
Rocket's expertise is designing and building weapons, but his knowledge extends to a number of areas. He is a pivotal contributor in building the time machine in Endgame and even helps to create a new gauntlet to hold the Infinity Stones.
3 Bruce Banner
Bruce Banner probably sees his intelligence as something of a curse. Though he is a brilliant expert in the field of gamma research, that is what turned him into the Hulk in the first place. But even with that setback, Banner is always at the center of the Avengers' next scientific endeavor.
As one of the so-called "science bros", Banner is usually side-by-side with Tony Stark working on something. Whether it be researching Loki's scepter, creating Ultron, or building the time machine, Banner's intelligence is as big of an asset as the Hulk's strength.
2 Tony Stark
The first hero we meet in the MCU is also one of the smartest characters in the MCU. That seems fitting as he is one of the only heroes who has used only his knowledge to build himself into a hero. Though he is rich and successful, Tony seems to love challenging his mind.
However, it is when he is captured by terrorists when he discovers the true potential of his knowledge. He has continued to build Iron Man suits, each one improving on the last. He successful fixed the Extremis formula, discovered a new element, solved time travel and too many other feats of intelligence to name.
Shuri might not be the one wearing the Black Panther suit, but she arguably plays as big a role in protecting Wakanda. The fact that this young girl is the head of the scientific division of Wakanda should speak to her talents. And the things she has accomplished proves she is more than up for the challenge.
Using Vibranium, Shuri has been able to create an entire society that functions through technology far beyond anything else on the planet. She has redesigned the Black Panther suit and gadgetry to make them more efficient. She also outsmarts even Bruce Banner in finding a way to separate Vision from the Mind Stone.