Whether they blind you with science or blind you for discovering their hidden lair, the Big Brains of fiction continue to amaze and astound generations of fans. Some use their talents for good, others - like the Incredible Hulk's arch nemesis The Leader (right) - use their talents for evil, but they all have amazing intellect and abilities that frequently lead to them, to well ... having explain their amazing intellect and abilities to the rest of us knuckleheads. <p>Here are 10 of our favorite mental giants from the expanse of pop culture.
One of your prototypical mad loner geniuses, Captain Nemo exists in a number of incarnations. However, from the original literary anti-hero by Jules Verne to the abject bad-ass of the version found in Alan Moore's cult comic book series <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/php/multimedia/album.php?aid=27284><b>The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen</b></a>, Nemo's always been depicted as having a knack for invention, nautical and otherwise. <p>Apart from his crowning achievement, The Nautlius, he's been shown to have creating diving suits and other contraptions far before their actual time. And of course, there's that harpoon launcher from <b>League</b>. Can't beat that.
Though the theme song tells us that one is a genius and the other's insane, it's always been pretty clear that The Brain is both. Able to devise a complex scheme every night, The Brain only gets defeated in his quest for world domination by circumstance. Well, and Pinky. <p>One of the all time greatest Brain moments came in Opportunity Knox, a short from an October 1993 episode of <b>Animaniacs</b>. Brain's plan to take over Fort Knox for its gold goes smoothly, until he and Pinky realize that they can't carry out the heavy gold. They're mice.
Granted, Science Officer/First Officer Mr. Spock is a genius on his own. However, add the storied medical expertise of Leonard McCoy, MD, and Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, and you have a triad of genius! <p>Each man could be counted as the best in his field, and one would invariably have to do something previously unheard of in nearly every classic <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/topic/star-trek><b>Star Trek</b></a> episode. <p>Bonus Genius Points go to Scotty; he's the trailblazer of the work philosophy that says you should always inflate your completion-time estimates. <p>Of course, they were all also smart enough to work out <b>Next Generation</b> appearances, too.
He's brilliant. He's angry. He's a toddler. Though he's mellowed a bit after seeing the futility of many of his finest schemes thwarted, few characters say Mad Genius like <b>The Family Guy</b>'s Stewie. The little guy with a football-shaped head has a vocabulary beyond his years and an accent beyond his continent. Whether he's building gadget after gadget in attempts to off his mother or take over the world, Stewie's carved out a presence for those that like their geniuses evil and their humor random.
The Man of Bronze could do just about anything. He's a surgeon, he's a physicist, he's an inventor, and he's a likely a picker, grinner, lover and sinner. <p>Though modern audiences don't know Doc as well, he starred in 181 novels and has been adapted into other media, including many comics and a 1976 film with Ron Ely as Doc. Next, he'll be appearing in a DC Comics title by writer Brian Azzarello. The Doc is in again!
Remember that line from the 2008 feature film? You've been called the Da Vinci of the 21st Century. Ridiculous; I don't paint. That's Tony Stark in a nutshell: irreverent smartass and the most brilliant guy in almost any room. He's invented a number of devices in service to the world, but frankly, none cooler than the ever evolving <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/php/multimedia/album.php?aid=30657>Iron Man armor</a>. <p>With <b>Iron Man 2</b> set for multiplexes next year, you can bet that a few more brilliant ideas will get to shine.
Detective. Scientist. Strategist. Billionaire playboy that rarely has to really ever go to his day job. <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/topic/batman>Batman</a>'s another guy like Doc Savage that can do literally anything that the situation requires. The true measure of his genius occurs in two regular situations. #1) The super-powered pantheon of the Justice League almost always defers to his judgment. And #2) He's a nocturnal crimefighter dressed entirely in dark colors that has a sidekick dressed entirely in bright colors. That seems pretty damn smart to us.
The self-proclaimed greatest criminal mind of all time took a loooong time to figure out that <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/topic/superman>Superman</a> was Clark Kent, but don't let that fool you. Lex Luthor is 100% genius. <p>Whether beating cancer by cloning himself, faking his death, and pretending to be his own son, or whether he's making deals with alien warlords to stay alive during interstellar conflict, or whether he's just seizing any opportunity that he can, Lex is equally adept at surviving as he is at inventing. <p>It's unfortunate that Movie Lex only seems to be about perpetrating land swindles. Comics Lex got himself elected President of the United States. Sure, his presidency was taken down by Superman and Batman, but that's genius in itself; it only took a couple of reporters to bag Nixon.
The poster child for geniuses that lack social skills, Reed Richards of Marvel Comics' <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/top10-fantastic-four.html>Fantastic Four</a> is the stretchy version of Sheldon from <b>The Big Bang Theory</b>. Put him in his lab and he can tend to forget the world around him even his wife can be invisible to him. <p>However, the list of Reed's fictional accomplishments is almost unparalleled. Consider: Unstable molecules, the Fantasticar, the Pogo Plane, the portal to the Negative Zone, H.E.R.B.I.E. (okay, maybe not H.E.R.B.I.E.) . . . it's, well, fantastic. And yes, that's exactly the kind of pun that Reed would make. Genius does not always equal comedic genius.
It's pretty obvious that few characters in any fictional realm touch the sheer intelligence and analytical skill of the Great Detective. His only real competition is his rival Moriarty. The two were so evenly matched in the mind department that Holmes was only able to defeat his greatest enemy in physical confrontation at Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. <p>Of course, Sherlock always said that his brother Mycroft was smarter, but it's hard to dispute the brilliance of the more popular Holmes. A whole new generation will see the big brain of Britain in action this year when <b>Sherlock Holmes</b> hits theaters starring Robert Downey Jr. We just hope they aren't wondering when he's going to put on the iron suit.