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How High Is Tony Stark's IQ?

We all know that Anthony Stark is a very, very smart man. He famously built a mini arc reactor — a near-limitless source of clean energy — in a cave, with a box of scraps. He created or co-created numerous cutting-edge technologies, including artificial intelligences (one of which nearly destroyed the world, but that's neither here nor there), the ultra-advanced virtual reality system known as B.A.R.F. (with an assist from ex-Stark Industries employee Quentin Beck), and of course, the signature electromechanical suits of armor which enabled him to become Iron Man, by any reasonable measure the greatest hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Stark is a guy with smarts to spare, and in the MCU and the world of Marvel comics, he's considered to have few intellectual peers. But inquiring fans want to know: just how smart is he? As in, how would he score on an IQ test? Well, there's an answer to that, one that is interesting to consider in comparison with other famously intelligent figures, both real and fictional.

First, it must be said that Mighty Marvel does not assign IQ scores to their characters. To get an idea of Stark's IQ, we consulted the Alpha High IQ Society, which keeps a handy database of the estimated IQ scores of famous individuals and characters. Their assessment: Tony Stark has an IQ in the neighborhood of 270, which in practical terms is pretty much off the scale.

To put that score in perspective, consider that it lines up with the highest one ever recorded in our humble, superhero-less universe. The record belongs to a man named William James Sidis, an American from New York City who was born in 1898. Sidis was, of course, prodigiously gifted; he had learned seven languages by the age of five, and at 11, he was granted admission to Harvard. Unfortunately, Sidis was apparently a little too smart; he reportedly struggled in college (as do many highly intelligent individuals), and eventually moved to Texas and became a teacher. A failed political career left him destitute, and he died broke in 1944, at the age of 46.

Sidis was estimated to possess an IQ between 250 and 300 — quite a unique case, as scores exceeding 200 are very rare. The Alpha High IQ Society lists only five other individuals known to have breached the mark: mathematician Terence Tao (225-230), onetime world record holder Marilyn Vos Savant (228), astronomy professor Christopher Hirata (225), Korean professor and researcher Kim Ung-Yong (210), and engineer and inventor Edith Stern (above 200). 

We can also get some insight as to how insanely brilliant Stark is by examining the IQ scores of a few famously brainy figures. There's Hungarian-American physicist and polymath John Von Neumann (190); father of modern computing Alan Turing (185); Microsoft founder Bill Gates (160); theoretical physicist and famous ultra-brain Albert Einstein (160); and physicist Stephen Hawking (160). Incidentally, TV and film star Ashton Kutcher — who famously portrayed the intellectually limited Michael Kelso on That '70s Show — has also been credited with a score of 160, so just let that sink in for a moment.

It's safe to say that if Tony Stark existed in our world, he would be one of the very smartest people who ever lived, if not the smartest. But, how does he stack up against other super-intelligent denizens of the Marvel universe?

Well, again, it's an inexact measurement. We can say, however, that Stark is generally considered to among the top five brains in all of Marvel lore. Others jostling for a spot on the list: Bruce Banner, a master of multiple scientific disciplines and the highest authority on gamma radiation; Hank McCoy, the X-Man known as Beast, who has unparalleled knowledge of human (and mutant) physiology; Hank Pym, inventor of Pym Particles and (in the comics, anyway) the man solely responsible for the creation of the artificial intelligence known as Ultron; and T'Challa, the Black Panther, whose knowledge of vibranium and its properties knows no equal.

Most analyses, however, agree that Stark will forever be kept out of the top spot by one man: Reed Richards, also known as Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four. If you've ever wondered how Marvel's First Family are able to afford all of their crazily advanced technology and reside in a giant skyscraper smack in the middle of New York City, it's because Richards is the holder of multiple patents which ensure that the team will always have all the funding it will ever need. He's the Marvel universe's foremost expert in aerospace engineering, temporal physics, and travel between dimensions — and, because his brain is able to physically change its composition and properties just as his body is, there's literally no upper limit to his intelligence.

Well, there's certainly no shame in losing a battle of smarts to a man with an actual elastic brain. Tony Stark will always be one of the most famous super-geniuses in all of popular culture; it's just too bad that he won't be around to geek out with Richards when the Fantastic Four inevitably arrives in the MCU.