It feels good to be bad especially if you can get away with it. Many villains certainly have in the Marvel universe but it's not always raw power that lets them win. In fact, some of the most dangerous supervillains in the Marvel universe utilize their brains and not their brawns. After all, there's always the bigger and more powerful fish, and outsmarting them is what makes a villain stay on top of the food chain.
Just as there is an honors list for the most intelligent Marvel superheroes, there's also a hierarchy for the biggest and baddest brain in Marvel. Because what truly makes a villain diabolical is their plans and how they carry them out. For that, you need a brain to match that of your self-righteous superhero arch-nemesis. Here are 10 of the smartest villains in the Marvel that ought to give superheroes more than a headache.
10 DOCTOR OCTOPUS
Otto Octavius is a genius who, unlike other geniuses, got the short end of the stick in life. He had an abusive father and a possessive mother, both of whom led to his feelings of deep hatred. While his poor parental relationships led to his becoming the monster that is Doctor Octopus, he still was a genius who simply wanted to continue his experiments.
Unfortunately, his experiments involved nuclear energy-- in populated cities, adding to the list of Spiderman's problems. Still, Otto proved that he is capable of utilizing his mechanical arms and genius intellect to get what he wants. His expertise in various fields of science proved too much for Spiderman to handle, especially when he started engineering weapons of mass destruction.
9 GREEN GOBLIN
It seems Spiderman's villains have a penchant for being smarter than him. Green Goblin a.k.a. Norman Osborne, his arch-nemesis, is no exception. Osborne is a genius businessman whose company specializes in weapons. He's pretty much a Tony Stark except less innovative and is evil. Also, like Iron Man, Osborn is self-made superhuman.
Past his embarrassing choice of costume or supervillain persona, Green Goblin has proven that he deserves even the respect of Avengers. At one time, he even initiated the Dark Avengers, which is his own Avenger initiative. Beyond that, he's proven to be more than a challenge to Spiderman and some of their fights even result in a draw.
8 KANG THE CONQUEROR
Kang the Conqueror is what happens when a man from the future got bored and tried to do stuff with a time machine. Nathaniel Richards a.k.a. Kang was from the 30th century in a different reality. He went to the modern era in order to conquer the Earth because why not? He'd pretty much be a god in there, not just a normal being where he's from.
Since he's basically from the future, he had the unfair advantage and even brought some of his own stuff to easily conquer the modern age. He also has this annoying logic of sending others back to a timeline where they belonged (oh, the irony). As a result, he sent Captain America back to the 1940s whence he came. Genius.
7 MISTER SINISTER
Nathaniel Essex a.k.a. Mister Sinister is a man who loved to play God. He was already considered as the most intelligent person of his generation but his obsession was all about evolution, having lived alongside great minds like Charles Darwin. For his preferred field of science, mutants played a significant role.
Essex eventually unlocked the secret to long life through his forbidden research and Celestial technology. He even went as far as being able to create and give superpowers on a whim. He has also proven to be capable of manipulating others through perfect clones of individuals-- even of himself.
6 THE LEADER
The Hulk's arch-nemesis which, surprisingly, is the exact opposite of him. The Leader is by no means strong. Moreover, his only advantage against the Hulk is his Gamma radiation-fueled intellect. This, however, proved more than a match for the green rage monster. His Gamma-ray exposure basically made his brain oversized and a supercomputer from the future.
Using his literal mega mind, The Leader can store every single detail of information for analysis. He uses such a skill to predict outcomes before incidents even happen. As such, he is almost always one step ahead of his enemies. When not hatching evil genius plans, he is also busy inventing devices that can help him defeat the Hulk and other stronger and smarter enemies.
Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing or M.O.D.O.K. is an experiment that went wrong (that should be easy to see). He was supposed to be a computing machine first and foremost, made for understanding the unknown for a lot of scientists. Originally, he was a normal human named George Tarleton who agreed to be turned into an organic computer, because nothing could truly go wrong with that.
After turning to M.O.D.O.K., Tarleton quickly murdered all his colleagues and declared himself "Scientist Supreme." M.O.D.O.K.'s intellectual prowess is comparable to The Leader's and he can also predict what others would do based on his deductive skills. He is also able to create Androids to deceive others among other inventions.
Ultron is what would happen if the very first information an A.I. learned from human beings is through Reddit or 4chan. It was Hank Pym or Tony Stark (in the MCU) who introduced Ultron to the world as a replacement for the Avengers. However, the sentient A.I. robot learned too fast and quickly concluded that humans are beneath him.
Time and again, Ultron has outsmarted the Avengers with his intricate plans for the world. Ultron, fortunately, had to be nipped in the bud by the Avengers. Still, had he lived and learned a lot more, he probably would have been unstoppable; Earth, or probably even other planets, quickly would have become Ultron's robot utopia devoid of organic life.
3 HIGH EVOLUTIONARY
This guy's plain weird in his motivations. In some cases, he helps superheroes and in others, he can appear evil. That goes to show how our feeble human minds cannot comprehend the High Evolutionary's genius. For him, there is no morality; there are only his goals. Often, High Evolutionary appears as a neutral opportunist.
What makes him so high up in this list, however, is his progress. He was once just a regular man named Herbert Wyndham who was inspired by Nathaniel Essex' works. So he did his own evolutionary experiments and with the help of Essex' secrets, he ascended into godhood. No kidding, he literally evolved into Celestial levels of omnipotence.
Moreover, he can evolve his own genomes to become as intelligent as possible. With such knowledge and capability, High Evolutionary was able to create life and matter as well as manipulate them into any form. To think he was just a mere human once. Thank goodness he's not as evil as the next two villains.
The Mad Titan we're all familiar with right now. Thanos was born out of violence and the quest for supremacy, though that's not necessarily his motivation. It's not Thanos' strength which is his greatest weapon-- it's actually his super-genius. Through his intellect and age, he was able to acquire the Infinity Gems/Stones and made even Celestials bow to him.
Apart from being a scientific and tactical genius, he is also a brilliant inventor. He was able to make a chair that lets him travel time, space, and even different dimensions. Because when you're a tyrant and you want to make yourself a throne, it may as well be the best ever. The Infinity Gauntlet and the Gems/Stones were probably just icing on the cake compared to what Thanos can do without them.
1 DOCTOR DOOM
If there was one person more arrogant or ambitious than Thanos, it would be Victor von Doom a.k.a. Doctor Doom. There is nothing Dr. Doom cannot do if he sets his mind into it, he can even stop time. He rivals Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) in terms of intelligence, created inventions too advanced even for the Avengers, mastered sorcery to rival Dr. Strange, and even runs his own country.
Dr. Doom is a genius in every field or discipline he dabbles in. As for his achievements in the biggest bad guy contest, Doom has actually defeated Thanos, Galactus, and the Celestials. It doesn't really matter how powerful a being in the universe is, Dr. Doom can steal that power whether by sorcery or science. The most amazing part? He's just a human with vast intelligence.