Many people tend to compare the strength of different characters, but what about someone's intellect?
There are a few contenders when it comes to those who rank the highest.
For one, there's the famous Tony Stark, whose technology has done quite a lot in the MCU—both good and bad. Then, there's Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner. While his work wasn't so widespread, his knowledge helped the Avengers get time travel figured out, which was quite an important achievement.
Then there's Tom Holland's Peter Parker. Though, for better or worse, his genius-level intellect hasn't been focused on all that much in his various adventures. However, Spider-Man: No Way Home did have a few important moments in this regard, such as the hero tricking Doctor Strange in the mirror dimension and all three Spideys putting their brains together to cure their former villains.
Though, there is someone else entirely supposedly at the top of the intellect list. Previously, the Russo Bros. confirmed that Letitia Wright's Shuri was the smartest person audiences had met in the MCU—with Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War showcasing multiple reasons why.
Marvel Has a New Genius in Town
In an interview with Gizmodo, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Executive Producer Nate Moore talked about why it was important to introduce Dominque Thorne's Riri Williams to the MCU and how her genius intellect compares to other already established characters.
He noted that they thought she was important to the story for several reasons, including how Riri has "experienced loss" and that her, an American, encountering Wakanda as she does in the film showcases a uniquely different point of view than Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger:
“Il think it was important to introduce her here because, a couple of things... she’s a character, thematically, who has experienced loss in her path with her stepfather passing away. We love the idea of of her as a African American woman in America, sort of encountering Wakanda. She has a different point of view than Killmonger but there’s a similar notion of seeing something that maybe had been lost.
Moore continued to elaborate, noting that Riri "is potentially as smart as Shuri:"
"And we love the idea of a woman who is potentially as smart as Shuri, but has such a different experience with that intelligence. And I think that made her kind of undeniable as part of the fabric of the movie.”
Formerly, in an interview with Wired, Joe Russo confirmed Shuri was the smarted person in the MCU (at least, that fans have encountered so far):
“Shuri is the smartest person in the Marvel Universe. She is the sister of T’Challa, a princess of Wakanda, and she is the brains behind Wakanda’s incredibly advanced technology."
While speaking with Entertainment Weekly about Shuri and her intellect in early October, Letitia Wright noted how the world hasn't seen "a young Black woman who's a princess... and also a scientist:"
“We haven’t seen that on a major scale, where there’s a young Black woman who’s a princess, and she’s also a scientist... I have this feeling of pride when a young woman comes up to me and says, 'Hey, you made me feel smart in school, and you made me feel like I can be in technology alongside a man, and I feel empowered.' That has changed my life forever.”
Watch Out World, Riri Williams Has Arrived
Discussing how different characters vary in strength, intellect, or other qualities is a staple topic within the comic book fan community. Though, hard facts in this arena can be hard to come by.
Why? Well, the answer is simple: the answer can shift depending on who might be writing the characters and what any hypothetical situation may call for.
Shuri may be more intelligent on paper than Tony Stark, but he's likely to be more adept in certain areas and vice versa. The same would go for Riri compared to the other contenders for the smartest character.
As for Riri Williams, the MCU is all the better for having another genius to play around with. Hopefully, she'll be able to interact with the other genius' in the Marvel Cinematic Universe sooner rather than later.
After all, just based on the brief clips available from Wakanda Forever, it seems that scenes between her and Peter Parker would be phenomenal. Then, of course, there's the upcoming introduction of characters like Reed Richards or Victor Von Doom—both of which could easily give Riri a run for her money.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11, while Ironheart is currently set to hit Disney+ sometime next summer.