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  1. #1
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    Default Superman's intelligence

    How smart and intelligent should Superman be?

    Personally I believe he should legitimately have a genius IQ on par with Luthor being the son of an incredible scientist from one of the most advanced civilizations in the universe.

    When comparing him to Batman, I say Superman is smarter in the more mathematical, quantitative, scientific discovery aspect while Bruce is smarter at the more abstract or puzzle solving/pattern deduction concept of intelligence.

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    Ultimate Member Vordan's Avatar
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    Intelligent enough to understand the super science of the DCU, but his personality is just more interested in the humanities, so he doesn’t have much interest in pushing the super science beyond what he needs to solve immediate problems. That’s my take.
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    If Superman were the sole superhero of his world (with the exception of maybe Supergirl), he would certainly be on par with Luthor in re to intelligence. There are two drawbacks to this, though. The first is that he's that much closer to being what his detractors claim him to be: too perfect. The second is that in a shared universe, everyone else kind of becomes redundant and useless if this is the case (kind of like they were in the Snyder cut). This is a similar complaint I have about several posters on the WW boards who seem to want WW to be the most skilled and the most powerful among other things. Again, in a world where she's the sole superhero, sure. But in a shared universe, everyone else just becomes redundant (which I have a feeling some wouldn't mind too much, but we gotta consider other fandoms, here).

    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    Intelligent enough to understand the super science of the DCU, but his personality is just more interested in the humanities, so he doesnít have much interest in pushing the super science beyond what he needs to solve immediate problems. Thatís my take.
    This is also a good point. He has stated in the past that he kind of sees superheroes as humanity's safety net and that they have to find their own way.

    Also, I kinda just like what Johns put out there in Doomsday Clock - that Luthor and Batman are the smartest people in the DCU. I think there's something just poetic about the most powerful man on Earth having one of the two smartest men on Earth being one of his closest friends and the other being his worst enemy.

    Although I'd probably count The Atom as another one of the smartest people on the planet, too.
    Last edited by phonogram12; Yesterday at 04:55 PM.
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    Extraordinary Member marhawkman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    Intelligent enough to understand the super science of the DCU, but his personality is just more interested in the humanities, so he doesn’t have much interest in pushing the super science beyond what he needs to solve immediate problems. That’s my take.
    He has shown that he is a genius beyond what most people can fathom. He's done things even Lex can't manage to pull off. One of the more amusing things that occurred to me over the years is that Clark does things as a reporter that another person would need days to do... in only a few minutes.

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member Johnny Thunders!'s Avatar
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    Supermanís intelligence should match his other abilities. He should be be able to process the information he receives from his senses with super speed. He has a bat computer in his head. His mind should be just like his other organs, it works way more efficiently and is able to do things beyond human limits.
    Last edited by Johnny Thunders!; Yesterday at 05:48 PM.

  6. #6
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Clark's the son of the most talented scientist on a world full of highly intelligent, advanced people (who in many versions, liked to tinker with genetics and made sure everyone had a role and place, often associated with what their House was known for). His raw IQ should make most humans feel entirely inadequate. Lex and Mr. Terrific and a few other big brains should rival or surpass him, but.....just to put it into perspective; Power Girl learned, in Kryptonian high school, stuff that it took Michael Holt (with all his different degrees) months of research to figure out. They're a smart people, Kryptonians. Sure, Terrific had to do the work himself while PG didn't, but I didn't understand the theory of relativity in high school despite not having to do the fundamental discovery work.

    But two things add really interesting wrinkles to this.

    First; Clark definitely dips his toe into the hard sciences of physics, engineering, chemistry, etc., but they're not where his heart is. He's a sociologist and philosopher. He knows his way around a lab, but he finds the problems of people more complex, compelling, and challenging than he does some tricky bit of research in the Fortress.

    Secondly, his education. Clark has a wildly uneven educational background. Most of what he knows, he learned on earth from earthlings. He learned the same stuff we did in school, and while he certainly did his own independent studies, he'd still be limited by what *we* know. But he also has these experiences with technology/knowledge well beyond our own; stuff in the Fortress, alien invaders, the 31st century, etc. That stuff opens him up to all kinds of things earthlings haven't even theorized yet. Clark has a relatively grounded base of education (which negates a lot of his IQ in a lot of ways), offset by these narrow but deep dives into all manner of odd bits and pieces of scientific inquiry.

    Clark's the kind of guy who might know how to build a time sphere, because he helped Brainy repair one in the 31st century, but wouldn't know how to build something far less complex, like a force field or something.

    As for Clark's IQ making all the other heroes redundant, I don't think that's true at all. That argument has never made any sense to me. But if it's true? Then maybe those other heroes need to step up their game. Maybe we shouldn't expect Clark to be less, because so few can keep up with him. Maybe we should ask that those who'd stand with him actually be capable of it. Maybe Superman wouldn't make everyone redundant if they didn't suck!
    "We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe."

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  7. #7
    Incredible Member magha_regulus's Avatar
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    Super intelligence is critical to the character to me. I always go back to the intention that Kryptonians are all super intelligent and as a species far more intelligent than human beings. Kryptonian children being able to do calculus at 3 like Siegel and Shuster intended is what I prefer. Superman is like the Tarzan of Kryptonians. He didn't have the benefit of growing up in Kryptonian society so other Kryptonians like Supergirl and Zod should be more learned than him having had the benefit of the Kryptonian educational system. That being said his innate Kryptonian intellect along with his experience using his powers would almost make up for the lack of education (beyond what Jor-El would send him with).

    Humans can't truly comprehend high numbers in the billions with our brain. A Kryptonian on Krypton, without superpowers from the yellow sun, very likely could due to their evolution.

    The super-intellect is important because it is one of the innate "powers" of Kryptonians on Krypton.

    Any Kryptonian that finds their way to Earth should automatically qualify as one of the smartest people on the planet. I can agree with the original poster about the distinction between the application of Superman and Batman's intelligence.

    Superman is a tinkerer. Inventing things is a hobby for him and solving scientific problems is fun for him.

    If I had control over editorial or narrative decisions, I'd lean into Superman's inventiveness a lot more. Krypto should have a device that would enable him to talk. Superman would have things like telepathic headbands, ray "guns" or super-nanites that can heal injured victims. He already has his armada of Superman Robots that have all of his powers. I hate the writers never seem to remember those. That new Batman story where Superman is missing and Batman has to fend off an alien invasion should be kinda pointless (I'll still give it a chance though).

    In my mind Luthor is as smart as a genius level Kryptonian like Jax-Ur or Jor-El and it is a huge deal. I see Mr. Terriffic as intelligent as an average Kryptonian, but also without the benefit of Kryptonian education. Batman I don't see as being as intelligent as an average Kryptonian but he's definitely still a super genius by human standards.

    Coluans are more intelligent than Kryptonians and Brainiac should be the most intelligent among them. Jor-El would have a Luthor-like genius by Kryptonian standards and would be able to challenge Brainiac.

    Out of all of the writers of modern Superman comics I feel like Grant Morisson has the best appreciation for the role of Super Intelligence in the mythos. Superman can't just be all brawn. His mind has to also play a part in both his approach to solving problems as well as in what problems he should tackle.

    Superintelligence is why Zod should be absolutely terrifying. Zod should be depicted as an intergalactic threat. Applying Kryptonian super-intelligence to the pursuit of war and conquest would make Zod and the other Phantom Zoners truly terrible threats to the entire universe.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by yolo_dude View Post
    How smart and intelligent should Superman be?

    Personally I believe he should legitimately have a genius IQ on par with Luthor being the son of an incredible scientist from one of the most advanced civilizations in the universe.

    When comparing him to Batman, I say Superman is smarter in the more mathematical, quantitative, scientific discovery aspect while Bruce is smarter at the more abstract or puzzle solving/pattern deduction concept of intelligence.
    I've never bought the idea that Superman should be smarter because he came from a race with advanced science or because he was the son of Jor-El. I doubt the son of a human genius has any greater or lesser chance of having high intellect . And i don't think someone born in our era of computers, rockets and atomic physics would somehow exceed if dropped at a young age in some past era, I'm not arguing against Clark being intelligent, just saying it shouldn't be the result of anything that happened on Krypton (including being from the El family).

    I'd instead say that a kid whose senses took in more information than any other person. Someone who could examine things microscopically without any equipment. Or who has to keep track of things while moving at superhuman speed. I'd say those things would give Clark one heck of an advantage over the next guy in learning how the world works and learning it rapidly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marhawkman View Post
    He has shown that he is a genius beyond what most people can fathom. He's done things even Lex can't manage to pull off. One of the more amusing things that occurred to me over the years is that Clark does things as a reporter that another person would need days to do... in only a few minutes.
    Yes. Kryptonians are supposed to be sort of like humans after ages more evolution had taken place, sort of humanity perfected. Which means they all should be vastly more intelligent than any human. And their science and tech should largely be beyond even humans like Luthor or Mr. Terrific.

    Does it make Kryptonians too perfect? Given that they still managed to lose their planet, I'd think not. Besides, having raw intelligence and having the knowledge and experience to make it useful are two different things. It's not unreasonable to think that Superman may be far more intelligent than any human and still not know how much of Kryptonian tech works; much like even most highly intelligent real people might not be able to tell you how smart phones work, or how an MRI works.

  10. #10
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    Not as smart as he was pre-crisis with super brain; smarter than he was post-crisis when he can't think of a way to get Green Arrow out of an exploding plane. I see him as having not his IQ "supercharged" but the neural pathways; etc, that allows him to think faster and strategize better.

  11. #11
    Ultimate Member Robotman's Avatar
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    He should definitely have super intelligence. Heís an alien from an advanced race of beings. Like The Flash, Supermanís brain would have to work at super speed. He should be able to process information way faster than an average human.

    Not just things like science but also language. Superman should be fluent in pretty much every earth language. In season 1 of Superman and Lois, Supes is in Latin American stopping a bank robbery and can speak fluent Spanish when addressing a police officer. I loved seeing that.

    Supermanís intelligence should be on full display anytime the Fortress of Solitude is explored, like in the Silver Age or All Star Superman. He creates Superman robots, experiments with alien weapons, makes Super powers serum, etc.
    Last edited by Robotman; Today at 02:21 AM.

  12. #12
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    This example isn't Superman; it's Supergirl and Power Girl, but in one Robinson issue of JLA Mr. Terrific showed the two a schematic of a super-science fantasy device he'd spent days designing and asked them if they knew what it did and how, and they both instantly did and could build it for him at super speed. He seemed quite impressed. And it seemed a fairly standard thing for Kryptonians, so I'd assume Superman could do such a thing as well. Instantly grasping the purpose and design aspects of the best Mr. Terrific could come up with suggests that Kryptonians are indeed much smarter as a base than humans, at least to me.

  13. #13
    Incredible Member magha_regulus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by achilles View Post
    This example isn't Superman; it's Supergirl and Power Girl, but in one Robinson issue of JLA Mr. Terrific showed the two a schematic of a super-science fantasy device he'd spent days designing and asked them if they knew what it did and how, and they both instantly did and could build it for him at super speed. He seemed quite impressed. And it seemed a fairly standard thing for Kryptonians, so I'd assume Superman could do such a thing as well. Instantly grasping the purpose and design aspects of the best Mr. Terrific could come up with suggests that Kryptonians are indeed much smarter as a base than humans, at least to me.
    This is a great example

  14. #14
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    Classic Superman:

    1) Comes from a super-advanced science-based culture.

    2) Has total recall.

    3) Is super-fast and thus perceives everything at a faster pace (his computing speed is phenomenal).

    4) Has an invulnerable brain (just like the rest of him) that won't suffer damage to its cognitive processes.

    5) Has super-senses that give more information about his reality than regular humans.

    6) Travels through time and space and witnesses more (learns more) than any of us could do in our lifetime.

    7) Has access to futuristic technology and friendships with super-advanced people.
    What the heart really wants is whiz-bang!

  15. #15
    Astonishing Member Johnny Thunders!'s Avatar
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    I think this always comes back to the question of "Should Superman". "Should Superman be as fast as flash, smart as Batman, fly as well as Hawkman, be as Alien as Jonn Jonzz." It always comes back to the idea that Classic Superman does too much and shouldn't take up any of his successors gigs. I always side on more is better but I am succumbing to old age as I type. In my mind, of course he should do all those things and to the Nth degree. No one ever says to Batman, "You can't be the Worlds Greatest Detective, that's Detective Chimps whole deal!"

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