A Female Super Genius?

I have sort of been over this topic before, but as a woman studying science this one is always of interest to me.  It is often debated because of various chracters in the Marvel universe claiming to be the 7th smartest individual on Earth (I think that is what Amadeus Cho claims to be?) but without Marvel creating its own list of who is smartest it is hard to make such a list.  The fact that such intelligent people are trying to quantify intelligence is contradictory, because no intelligent person would attempt to do this, as intelligence is multifaceted and very complex.  Is Beethoven's genius of being able to compose complex symphonies in his head without being able to hear them (this being after he had gone deaf) comparable to Rutherford, an expert in chemistry and physics?  Not at all.  What is strange out of such a ranking though, is that a female character is never considered for the top ten.  This is different in DC which doesn't have a top ten per se, but even there where most would say Barbara Gordon would be one of the most intelligent, she is not really a scientist (though maybe could be considered a computer scientist).  It should not be news anymore that women are breaking down doors in terms of scientific achievement.  Just yesterday the winners of the inaugural Google Science Project Awards were given out and the winners in the categories of 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18 were all girls (they got trophies made out of Lego).  They won the recognition with projects dealing with such scientific concepts as heterocyclic amines, AMPK and cisplatin resistance, and airborne particulate matter (which even as a soon to be fourth year science student I can't say that I know very much about any except the third).   
 

 

Marvel Comics was revolutionary in the 1960s as it made it cool to not be cool.  The new breed of heroes were portrayed as either science geeks, outsiders or both and fans came to them in flocks to find someone they could better relate to than a multi-billionaire vigilante, an alien from a distant planet or an Amazon warrior.  In efforts to continually re-imagine themselves are comic book companies not missing an excellent opportunity (especially in the light of an increasing role of women in science and an increasing readership of comics by girls and women) to create a woman super-genius character?   
42 Comments
42 Comments
Posted by jloneblackheart

Valeria Richards. She's supposedly as smart or Smarter than Reed, who is probably #1 on that Marvel list (at least top three).

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Edited by fodigg

Good point. The only respected female scientists I can think of are X-Men characters: 
 
Moira MacTaggert 
Dr. Kavita Rao 
 
While both are respected for their work, neither are superheroes or considered "geniuses" in the same way as scientists/engineers/inventors such as Hank Pym, Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Peter Parker, Dr. Doom, Forge, Madison Jeffries, The Mad Thinker, Maestro, Amadeus Cho, Mastermind Excello, etc. 
 
The closest example we have is probably Ultimate Sue Storm, whose scientific ability was boosted to be about equal to Reed's. There's also Val Richards, but how much she's super-smart and how much she's just "prophetic" is still up in the air, and again, she's not actually a superhero (yet). I'm sure there are female scientists in Wakanda, but Shuri doesn't strike me as a genius even though she uses some high-tech gear.

Edited by crazy8504

while you are right about the whole female intelligent not being ranked in the top ten a lot of the female characters in Marvel are consider highly intelligent like Sage has a computer mind to do complex thinking and reason not to mention read and understand some ones DNA.. the  step ford sister and Emma frost are consider highly intelligent due to there highly advance brains it seems that telepaths are always smart ass SOB. I would also throw in monet st. croix AKA M as a intelligent woman but not genius so I guess that didn't help.  sue storm and of course the offspring of two spring of genius Val Richard as she once say when she found the crystal palace "Both my parents were genius's it was only a matter until I found this place."    was always consider a genius and that's how she met Reed was because they were in the same areas of study. Marvel doesn't always make the female characters dumb blonds shadow cat was a computer expert , but you are right normally its not woman who create the gadget or suddenly come up with the stroke of genius that saves everybody.  That's probably due to fact that males are writing the story and never think about using a woman for her intellect.

 It sounds like you have an idea for a new character a female tony stark (which technically did exist in one of the exile comics with that whole moon star thing I believe it was, it was a brief story.)

Posted by fodigg
@crazy8504: Sage is a good example, but still not--I believe--considered "genius"-level.
Posted by Wattup

Holy guacamole...I can't believe no one's ever done a female version of Lex Luthor before!
 
Barbara Gordon would be another character who is very smart.

Posted by CATPANEXE

While not super-powered, I was taken by the recent character Dr.Sofia Di Cosimo who appeared in Incredible Hulks for fitting this archetype.
Emma Frost is intended to be one, but it's not really played upon enough, though that just falls in the saying " A character is only as intelligent
as the person writing them at the time ".

Posted by Loki9876

monica rapaccini

Posted by SC

They are around, but unfortunately like most characters that have a certain unique quality or qualities that defy the norm, readers/fans, and writers (or in the reverse order depending on who you like to blame) aren't embraced or usually only set up in a supporting capacity (but that would apply to most new smart male characters as well) like to add to the list of smart female characters mentioned by other's I'll mention Alyssa Moy-Castle, who was said to be relatively on par or near enough to Reed in smarts. The problem though, is that intelligence as far as comics go, is as you allude to, somewhat of a gimmick. People aren't as obsessed about as they are about strength and some supposed magical linear quality that either possess or can be quantified as and so you get someone creating a list of the most intelligent characters on the basis of who is well known, and who appears smart. Which is of course the most logical and true way of actually measuring, and discerning intelligence.. (oh wait, no lol, no its not) now usually you just have to worry about one writer applying their understanding and definition of intelligence onto the character they happen to be writing, but as soon as one starts trying to make lists, such lists can become sort of an in joke. Now lists can also be fun as well. There are certain narratives we can identify to create loose categories as far as intelligence brackets, but we get a much heavier handed approach. Sort of again, under the guise of its fun and its comics. Except for a lot of people, accuracy is fun, and seeing smart characters act dumb (which isn't exclusive to them ranking each other based on memories that seem to miss out 90 of their narrative lives) can break the aesthetic distance very abruptly.  
 
So anyway, am looking forward for a push for more unique and interesting characters, which would include intelligent (significantly intelligent) female superheroes (and villains) and of mixed race and... even if i have to make them myself. Then as for lists... well I am a fan of accuracy, that's more fun for me, than familiarity, so I eagerly await the day a smart character dismisses that plot device on panel, thoroughly. Maybe it can be a female genius? 

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Posted by Despair

What about M? She is supposed to be on super-level with nearly everything and I think she is pretty smart, too.
 
And what was the name of the woman who invented the Extremis "virus"? Tony Stark admitted not being completely able to comprehend her work.

Edited by CATPANEXE
Posted by SC
@Despair said:
What about M? She is supposed to be on super-level with nearly everything and I think she is pretty smart, too.  And what was the name of the woman who invented the Extremis "virus"? Tony Stark admitted not being completely able to comprehend her work.
 
Maya Hansen, great choice! As is Monet. 
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Posted by Renee
Willow! She's a genius, a powerful witch and an awesome character. She's been the brains of the Scoobies since tenth grade.
Posted by cosmo111687

Dr. Pamela Isley is one that is often over-looked.

Posted by fodigg

In PMs, @crazy8504: and I got to talking about this topic for DC characters. I thought I'd copy my thoughts over here as well: 
 --- 
 
Well, the one character that DC has that is a good example for this is Oracle, who I think is a really emotionally strong, tough, intelligent character. I mean, someone Batman trusts to order him around in the field would have to be. The downside, of course, is that to become Oracle she had to suffer through her blatant victimization. When an editor is laughingly approving of such a thing with the words "cripple the bitch," it doesn't say much for trying to create strong female characters. :( 
  

Alan Moore, the writer responsible for the story arc that led to Batgirl's shattered spine, provides some insight into the editorial perspective behind the decision. As he told the industry magazine Wizard

“I asked DC if they had any problem with me crippling Barbara Gordon—who was Batgirl at the time—and if I remember, I spoke to Len Wein, who was our editor on the project, and he said, ‘Hold on to the phone, I’m just going to walk down the hall and I’m going to ask [former DC Executive Editorial Director] Dick Giordano if it’s alright,’ and there was a brief period where I was put on hold and then, as I remember it, Len got back onto the phone and said, ‘Yeah, okay, cripple the bitch.’”

Posted by Amegashita
Posted by Alpha
Edited by Despair
Komodo. She managed to perfect Connor's Lizard formula, athing that even pretty smart Spider Man with the help of eminent authority on bio-chemistry and genetics Connors had not managed.
Posted by Wildbobbycarter

cant think of any at the moment maybe there's none...?

Posted by Dracade102

Lady Loki...(?)

Posted by forsake
Posted by lannister

I don't know much about her, but Professor Q seams to be a real genius...and her powers are awesome.

I'd really like to see more female genius with proeminent roles, and with a focus on their intellectual ability. Let's see how they will andle Valeria Richards in the future.

Posted by Squares

Off the top of my head, there's Alyssa Moy and Valeria Richards (I'd link the pages but can't seem to do that properly right now :P). Shadowcat isn't a supergenius, just the regular kind (the Handbook to the Marvel Universe lists her as having an intelligence of 5; a roughly average score is 2).

Posted by Teerack
Edited by lady_toyano

The Engineer while she was a part of the Authority (NOT DC REBOOT STORMWATCH) was a genius. She created nanite technology that replaced her bloodstream and could also be used to duplicate herself and create weapons. She was in love with her tech, and so brilliant. I weep at how her character was slaughtered and origins changed to alien abduction instead of reviling in all of her genius.

With the DC Reboot though, Stormwatch has Jennifer Quantum and she's the new century baby. She is a reality warping quantum physicist child.

There both from the same team at different times though. I was just having this convo with a friend when discussing the Secret Avengers team rooster and how it could be more appealing and not look so much like a patriarchal dictatorship of rich dudes making decisions. We were trying to come up with genius women who had the capability to be offensive characters on the battelfield as well in Marvel. Pretty slim pickings.

Edited by citizenx

Probably because no one is sure what a woman super genius is supposed to look like. Women usually don't act in way that reveal their intelligence level. For instance, making claims that are directly contradicted by modern psychometric such as that intelligence isn't something that can be compared between people (It is, as IQ is representative of the g factor - the correlation between a person's performance on one test of mental ability and all others).

Women's concealment of their intelligence level isn't limited to not bragging about it either - the mentality of not wanting them to be competitive (lack of testosterone perhaps?) prevents them from excelling far beyond the current state of knowledge in any field. This is something that allows non geniuses to recognize genius in others - the ability to do what no one else can do. In order to redefine understanding in a field, or create a completely new field of understanding, you first have to have the "audacity" to believe that you can.

This argument also has some scientific support, as although average IQ is similar between men and women, the std deviations are not the same. That means that less women are far away from the average than men, which means less female super geniuses.

If you fancy yourself a female supergenius, perhaps you should give them a prototype by example in what you accomplish in your own life.

Edited by fodigg

@citizenx said:

Probably because no one is sure what a woman super genius is supposed to look like. Women usually don't act in way that reveal their intelligence level. For instance, making claims that are directly contradicted by modern psychometric such as that intelligence isn't something that can be compared between people (It is, as IQ is representative of the g factor - the correlation between a person's performance on one test of mental ability and all others).

Women's concealment of their intelligence level isn't limited to not bragging about it either - the mentality of not wanting them to be competitive (lack of testosterone perhaps?) prevents them from excelling far beyond the current state of knowledge in any field. This is something that allows non geniuses to recognize genius in others - the ability to do what no one else can do. In order to redefine understanding in a field, or create a completely new field of understanding, you first have to have the "audacity" to believe that you can.

This argument also has some scientific support, as although average IQ is similar between men and women, the std deviations are not the same. That means that less women are far away from the average than men, which means less female super geniuses.

If you fancy yourself a female supergenius, perhaps you should give them a prototype by example in what you accomplish in your own life.

So you're saying "cream rises to the top" and women—while not necessarily intellectually inferior—are still biologically limited in such a way that they cannot or are not naturally competitive in scientific and mathematical fields?

Why, that's just nonsense.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@citizenx: I am no super genius, but as I made clear above, this particular national competition had three winners, all of whom were female. There is no reason to think that a woman could therefore not be a genius to the level of Reed Richards, Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne.

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Posted by Strider92

Jenny Quantum

Posted by RazzaTazz
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Posted by Strider92

@razzatazz: That I will agree with. However she is definitely smarter than Reed given what she does consistently off the top of her head.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@strider92: Isnt she more power based? Like she isnt actually that smart from hard work, she has those abilities as powers?

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Posted by Strider92

@razzatazz: She does have powers but IIRC its her intelligence that allows her to effectively use them.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@strider92: Oh Ok, I havent read that much of Stormwatch

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Edited by Jorgevy

@jloneblackheart said:

Valeria Richards. She's supposedly as smart or Smarter than Reed, who is probably #1 on that Marvel list (at least top three).

as soon as I saw the title I thought of her. and Im not even a Fantastic Four fan, so that oughta count for something

On the OP:

yeah we totally should get more girl geniuses, because from what i see and also statistics, most classes have better girl students than boy students.

I dont know girls are just hardworking and boys are slackers. but that's my view

I asked some other person and he disagreed:

"girls are dumb"

-Zack, 8 year old student

so i dont know, it's not that girls or boys are smarter than each other, but I think girls just take these opportunities better because they seem to still be affected by the social and physical stigma of being considered "weaker", thus they transfer their motivation and power to intelectual prowess. i donno

PS: although i gotta admit men are in general emotionally smarter than women, but that's another topic. and being emotionally smarter doesnt mean it's better, because it has it's downsides which women in general suffer from less, thus being more efficient. it's complicated

Posted by Strider92

@razzatazz: Ultimate Susan Storm is also very smart. Smarter than he 616 counter-part. I think Ultimate Reed openly admitted she was smarter than him at one point.

Posted by RedQueen

@jloneblackheart said:

Valeria Richards. She's supposedly as smart or Smarter than Reed, who is probably #1 on that Marvel list (at least top three).


First one I thought of.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@jorgevy said:

@jloneblackheart said:

Valeria Richards. She's supposedly as smart or Smarter than Reed, who is probably #1 on that Marvel list (at least top three).

as soon as I saw the title I thought of her. and Im not even a Fantastic Four fan, so that oughta count for something

On the OP:

yeah we totally should get more girl geniuses, because from what i see and also statistics, most classes have better girl students than boy students.

I dont know girls are just hardworking and boys are slackers. but that's my view

I asked some other person and he disagreed:

"girls are dumb"

-Zack, 8 year old student

so i dont know, it's not that girls or boys are smarter than each other, but I think girls just take these opportunities better because they seem to still be affected by the social and physical stigma of being considered "weaker", thus they transfer their motivation and power to intelectual prowess. i donno

That being the case there should probably be at least one such prominent character in comics though ...

@razzatazz: Ultimate Susan Storm is also very smart. Smarter than he 616 counter-part. I think Ultimate Reed openly admitted she was smarter than him at one point.

I agree that there are some out there, but that it requires some effort to identify them is what I mean. Ask someone about male super geniuses and it is easy to answer, female not so much.

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Posted by Jorgevy

That being the case there should probably be at least one such prominent character in comics though ...

yeah, there should be. Valeria has the problem every kid in comics has, if the adults don't grow old, they don't really grow old either and don't get the spotlight.

Jenny Quantum is very important in her whole shabang but that was before the New 52 merge. we will see how DC handles her now, but I doubt it will make her that important

what always confuses me is; Batman is a super genius, Superman has been showed several times as a genius too, because of his whole Kryptonian thing, but what about Wonder Woman? she's the only one of the Trinity that was never shown to be intelectually above all else. I think that's a big mistake

Posted by Strider92


I agree that there are some out there, but that it requires some effort to identify them is what I mean. Ask someone about male super geniuses and it is easy to answer, female not so much.

True can't argue with that.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@jorgevy: They have shown that for Wonder Woman just not as much, I would have to hunt for the issue (though I am thinking it is WW volume 2 #170) where it sort of shows a day in the life feature where she is shown taking part in some scientific studies.

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Edited by Jorgevy

@razzatazz: oh... Id love to see more of that. I love her mystical side but Id love her to see her on the science side, maybe build her own invisible jet or atleast repair it and enhance it