Lex Luthor increased Brainiac from a tenth level to a twelfth-level intellect. What level intellect does Superman have?

  • Brute-level intellect!
    – Möoz
    Aug 5 '18 at 22:48

Given Superman's/Kal-El's parents being considered as 8th level intellects, Superman must at least possess the POTENTIAL to be an 8th level intellect and even untrained would still likely possess the intellectual capacity to be one of the most intelligent beings living on the DCnU Earth.

The DC Universe has never really known how to address their descriptions of intellectual capacity in an objective level. The DCnU is littered with a variety of geniuses at varying levels of intellectual capacity and development.

One such measuring tool was the use of the "genius levels of intellect" scale rated from one to twelve, with twelve being the maximum. Yes, there are rumors of a 16th level intellect but canon writings only take the scale to 12. Given the difficulties in determining how such intellects are rated:

  • There is no objective scale that has been clearly determined
  • The five known measures are still highly subjective

The five markers set down by DC in the previous continuities of the DC Universe were:

  • Highest level of genius intellect currently defined is a 12th level intellect.
    • this has been displayed as the ability to consciously have 12 simultaneous thought processes at a genius level of intellect being performed concurrently. Intellectual capacity at that level is capable of developing sciences and concepts beyond the comprehensions of even other known geniuses and associated with the potential to master an unlimited number of disciplines. Such intellects are capable of memorizing entire libraries of information, multitasking and building entire mental simulations with the speed and accuracy of supercomputers. It has been hinted, however, that intellects at a level greater than ten are inherently unstable and prone to erratic behavior.
    • Brainiac 5 of the Legion of Superheroes, and the original planetary computing machine Brainiac are considered to be at this level.
  • The entire 31st century Earth's population is considered to be at a 9th level of intellect.
  • The scientist Jor-El of Krypton was individually considered at the 8th level of intellect.
  • The average citizen of Colu is individually considered to be at the 8th level of intellect.
  • The entire 21st century Earth's population is considered to be at a 6th level of intellect.
  • One last marker: Lex Luthor has been estimated of being a 8-9th level intellect and the smartest human on the DC Earth.

Given these ratings and the recent reveal that Jor-El is at least an 8th level intellect and considered by "The Collector" to be Krypton's leading scientific mind, and Lara was also considered a first rate scientist on Krypton, this means Kal-El has the genetic potential to be considered a genius of that order. Assuredly with his mind's enhancement under a yellow sun, he is certain capable of being one of the most intelligent beings on the DC Earth. His greatest weakness is likely a lack of significant exposure to information and education to challenge his intellect to achieve its greatest state.

This page clipped from Action Comics #3, page 4 is shown quoting Jor-El's considerable intellectual capacity.

Action Comics #3, page 4

You can also see: "Does Superman's super-speed affect his thinking" for further ideas on the subject of Superman's intellectual capacity.

  • 2
    If the average Earthling is a 6th level, that doesn't say much for the 6th level.
    – Omegacron
    Feb 17 '15 at 20:04
  • 1
    @Omegacron I took that to mean that the combined intellect of everyone on Earth was a 6th level intelligence. After further thought, that means that a lot of people would have negative intelligence, since at least one person (Lex Luthor) has intelligence above 6th level...
    – KSmarts
    Feb 17 '15 at 20:47
  • 3
    Based on the average Internet forum, negative intelligence may not be that far off.
    – Omegacron
    Feb 17 '15 at 21:18
  • In fact Grax was a twentieth level intellect, that I think appeared in at least two stories, see supermanica.superman.nu/index.php/Grax
    – user66716
    Jul 2 '17 at 9:46

DC Adventures Heroes Handbook cover

DC Adventures is an officially licensed RPG based upon DC comics. It is based upon a heavily modified version of the D20 system. One of the modifications is the ability scores - D20 has ability scores (which range from 3-18 for a normal human, average is 10) and ability modifiers (calculated as (ability score - 10)/2, rounding down).

DC Adventures (also known as Mutants and Masterminds 3rd edition) instead uses your modifier as your ability score, to better handle characters with enormous abilities (the D20 system has an unnecessary level of detail for stories where characters routinely lift tanks or throw others for miles).

In the DC Adventures Heroe's Handbook there are stats for Superman and Braniac. The stats in the books are for the 'iconic' versions of the characters, essentially the core character. They include notes for modifications for different versions (such as Aquaman with the harpoon hand, or when he heavily used magic).

In that book, Braniac is given an Intellect score (replaces the D20 'Intelligence' score) of 12.

Superman's Intellect is given as a 2. (His strength, on the other hand, is 19)

For comparison, Batman has an 8 Intellect, and Lex Luthor has an 11.

An average human, in DCA, has a 0 Intellect. Superman is about 10% smarter than an average human (your score is added to a D20 roll for checks related to that ability, so Superman will succeed roughly 10% more often than an average person). Batman is 40% more likely to pass an Intellect check than an average person, and Lex Luthor is 55% more likely. Braniac just beats him by being 60% more likely to pass that same check.

The game is officially licensed and the material was approved by DC, who paid close attention to the character builds, so it's as close to an official word as we will get.

  • More clearly it seems to wildly underestimate Brainiac's. It's not all that uncommon an effect in RPGs, I don't think it's reasonable to assume that DC is unusually good at making the outcomes from its system reflect its hand-crafted background material. Jul 12 '14 at 20:19
  • 3
    @SteveJessop: That's just his raw Intellect, without considering his super powers. He also has Quickness 10 (limited to Mental things) which lets him think roughly 1200 times faster than a 'normal' person. So he can make 1200 Intellect checks (each 60% more likely to succeed than a normal person's) in the time it takes an average person to make one.
    – Jeff
    Jul 13 '14 at 14:42
  • 1
    As it's D20 based, that means he could Take-20 on those checks (taking twenty times the normal time required) if there is no consequence for failure other than failing itself. Those 1200 checks become 60 discrete tasks, all of which he automatically counts has 20 on the die.
    – T.J.L.
    Dec 18 '15 at 16:43
  • 1
    @T.J.L.: Indeed. Brainiac also has Expertise (essentially, a combination of Knowledge/Profession/Craft) in History and Known Space with +11 bonuses to each (total +23). So for a pure Int check, he can take 20 as a free action to get a 32 ('Heroic' difficulty) to come up with solutions or remember facts. If he can apply one of his Expertise skills (or his similarly-bonused Technology skill) the result is instead a 43 ('Nigh-Impossible' difficulty). So he can solve nearly-impossible problems ~60 times per second.
    – Jeff
    Dec 18 '15 at 16:53

In the finale of Season Two of "Justice League Unlimited" Lex Luthor states that he is "overqualified" to pass a obstacle requiring a '12th level' intellect...

Quoting from Wikipedia;

The Source Wall appears in the final episode of Justice League Unlimited, "Destroyer". Metron takes Lex Luthor there to find the Anti-Life Equation. Metron himself is unwilling or unable to take him any further, and warns Luthor that only a "twelfth-level intellect" has a slightest hope of surviving such an experience. Luthor dryly states that he is overqualified then leaps into the wall. He is seemingly correct, as shortly after, he appears again on Earth in possession of the Anti-Life Equation. Dwayne McDuffie when asked what happened to Lex Luthor and Darkseid when they seemingly exploded from the Anti-Life Equation stated that they were fused with the wall, as all living things that solve the equation are. As a subtle homage to Jack Kirby, Galactus image can be seen on the wall.

Superman-Prime also manages to pass a Source Wall (albeit by destroying it) which would suggest that by definition he has also at least a level 12 intellect;

  • This is not an answer to what intellect level Superman has. Therefore it is not helpful. I'm not sure what "they prove I" means, but it doesn't sound like a helpful addition. The bits about Lex and Brainiac only further distract from the question. I also wanted to edit your post but was not quite sure what you were trying to say. Jan 4 '14 at 17:35

The reason that much of this information is muddled is that it combines PreCrisis and PostCrisis versions of Superman, Lex, etc. In the PreCrisis continuity, Superman and Lex were both 9th Level. The Post-Crisis Superman was not much smarter than the average human.

  • 1
    Welcome to the stack exchange. If you could add some examples with links, it would improve your answer.
    – sfhq_sf
    Jun 29 '16 at 15:51

Superman only does not reach brainiac and lex level of intelligence(but is capable of lexs and even more) because he does not really study or make findings , well as u sud know superman brain is capable of great feats he could read billions of world and assimilate without problem and tell u every bit of it any time. Again superman brain is much more advanced than lex(es) ,he is just human while superman brain is capable of much more. If superman had studied like lex he would have being one of the most intelligent beings, but he spends time on ...... U all know. So i would rate superman on the intellectual he is capable of and not is intelligence 90% upwards and brainiac intelligence (well thats because he is a computer and contains many database of galaxies aliens ...name it) 95% upward. Lex well just a genius and for that he is going to also have a slighlty different brain(not in structure)a 80% upwards he is just human. This sud clear it up with all the explanation. By, Akala Ayodeji.

  • 1
    This could be much improved if you gave some references for these assertions.
    – Valorum
    Dec 4 '14 at 20:03
  • 5
    Also, punctuation and grammar.
    – Valorum
    Dec 4 '14 at 20:04

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