The wheel, the light bulb, the radio, the personal computer, and the cell phone. All are inventions that utterly transformed life on Earth. All were created by a person who had the idea and the know-how to birth a completely new concept into reality. Inventor is an occupation we don’t often hear about but one that has the potential to change everything. They are people who think outside the box and turn what was once thought of as science-fiction into reality. The Marvel Universe has a number of inventors who dabble in fantastically fictional innovations. In honor of National Inventor’s Day, we’re going to take a look at the top six ingenious inventors of the Marvel Universe! Adjust your goggles and throw the switch, because we’re bringing this baby to life!
If you’re going to talk about inventors in the classic 616 Marvel Universe you might as well start with the biggest brain of them all. That’s right, True Believers, Reed Richards himself, the leader of the Fantastic Four! Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1961 in The Fantastic Four #1, Reed was established as the smartest human on Earth, a title he would later relinquish to his daughter Valeria. But while he was still the brightest guy around, he created countless contraptions and gadgets to capture the imaginations of Marvel zombies everywhere. Reed started his inventing career with the experimental rocket that brought the Fantastic Four to space, where they were bombarded with cosmic rays. Yikes! Mister Fantastic followed this mishap up with unstable molecules, which he used to create uniforms that could adapt to the FF members’ volatile superpowers. Not slowing down, Reed birthed the flying bathtub known as the Fantasticar as the first family’s famous mode of transportation. He later created the universal translator (which allows the fab four to communicate with all sorts of alien and inter-dimensional beings), the negative zone portal for dimensional travel, and an afterlife transporter, just to name a few! Did you know that Mister Fantastic’s plethora of patents for his inventions also fund the Fantastic Four and keep the Baxter Building in business? Not a bad plan, Stretch.
Next up on the list is none other than the King of Wakanda himself, T’Challa the Black Panther, who made his first appearance in Fantastic Four #52 in 1966, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. B.P. rules over the technologically advanced nation of Wakanda hidden away on the continent of Africa. Classified as one of the top 10 smartest people on Earth, T’Challa has a genius level intellect. Using his super intelligence, the King is responsible for creating some of his nation’s most advanced technology and even gifting some of it to the Fantastic Four, wowing Reed Richards. T’Challa is aided in his scientific advancement by the extraordinary metal only found in Wakanda known as vibranium. The metal can absorb, store, and release large amounts of kinetic energy. T’Challa was able to use the metal to invent an excess of tech and devices used to protect and defend Wakanda, including his sleek and stylish Black Panther suits. Of the numerous inventions Black Panther is famous for creating, perhaps the most overlooked is his credit for inventing fellow Avenger Sam Wilson’s Falcon flying harness. Recently in the comics and more so in the movies, T’Challa has taken a back seat to scientific invention, leaving that to his sister Shuri, who is quickly surpassing her big brother in the intelligence department.
What kind of list makers would we be if we left Forge off our catalog of top Marvel inventors? The guy’s mutant superpower is literally inventing things! Forge first appeared in 1984’s Uncanny X-Men #184 by Chris Claremont and John Romita Jr. The Native American X-Man’s powers are the superhuman intuitive talent of inventing and the ability to visually perceive mechanical energy. With abilities like that, it’s no wonder Forge was recruited to enhance the technology of the X-Mansion. He even replaced Tony Stark as the US government’s chief weapons contractor for a time. Forge has created such prominent Marvel Universe devices as the Neutralizer gun (which suppresses mutant powers), a scanner to detect superhumans and aliens, his own highly advanced cybernetic limbs, and most of the X-Men’s vehicles, including later versions of the Blackbird jet. At least Forge knows he’s got job security.
With a name like Tinkerer, you know this guy has to be constantly cooking something scientific up. While not quite on the same level as Black Panther and Mister Fantastic, Tinkerer has made a business out of inventing and selling superhuman tech to the criminal community. Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1963’s Amazing Spider-Man #2, Phineas Mason, aka the Tinkerer, runs an underground mechanic shop for super villains disguised as a radio repair joint. The Tinkerer has no actual superpowers of his own but is a genius engineer who creates sophisticated tech out of household appliances and spare parts. Tink, as we like to call him, is known throughout the Marvel Universe for building some of the most notorious equipment for villains including Mysterio, Kingpin, Whirlwind, Diamondback, Grim Reaper, Hammerhead, Beetle, Black Cat, Owl, Rocket Racer, Stilt-Man, Taskmaster, Vulture, and countless more. If only felonious Phineas could put his inventive talents to better use, who knows what other technological wonders the Marvel Universe would behold!
This entry is significant because it is both the name of the inventor and the invention itself. Tony Stark, brought to life by the work of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber and Don Heck in 1963’sTales of Suspense #39 is the billionaire playboy and philanthropist who is arguably responsible for the most iconic invention of the Marvel Universe: the Iron Man armor! When the wealthy genius weapons manufacturer experienced a near-fatal chest injury during a kidnapping he was ordered to build a weapon of mass destruction. Instead of making the weapon, Stark invented a mechanized suit of armor that both saved his life and aided in his escape. Tony would later go on to upgrade his technologically super-powered suit to protect the world as Iron Man. Not only does the shell head continue inventing new Iron Man armors all the live long day, he also dabbles in other inventions as well, such as the Enervation Intensifier, the Iron Sight, his own personal AI first dubbed H.O.M.E.R., the ever-useful disintegrator ray, and even jet-propelled roller skates! And then of course there’s all the world-saving devices that come about when Tony gets together with his science-bro pals Mister Fantastic and Black Panther.
Peter Parker, otherwise known as the Amazing Spider-Man, is the youngest inventor on our list – and he began dabbling in science when he was just a kid! When the little whippersnapper, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15, was bitten by a radioactive spider on a school field trip, he developed spider-like powers giving him super strength, agility, the ability to stick to walls, and a precognitive spider-sense. To enhance these abilities the high school student took it upon himself to invent an ingenious formula for web fluid and wrist mounted web shooters, allowing him to swing through the concrete canyons of New York City on webs. As time went on Peter developed more tech like the spider-tracer, a tiny tracking device that’s attuned to his spider-sense, and multiple tech-infused versions of his Spider-Man costume. He even ran his own multi-billion-dollar research and development conglomerate dubbed “Parker Industries” for a time. Who would have thought that always down-his-luck every-man Peter Parker would one day be well on his way to rivaling the top minds in the Marvel Universe? We totally did.