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Who is Zaniac? The forgotten Loki villain’s Marvel origins explained

Zaniac is an obscure Marvel villain from comic book history, and now he's being introduced into Loki season 2. Here's what that means for the best MCU show.

Tom Hiddlestone as Loki: Zaniac explained

Zaniac just made his MCU debut… kind of. ‘Who?!’ I hear you cry. Well, sit down and let us explain.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has the unenviable task of sifting through the decades-long history of comic book lore in an attempt to find the best Marvel characters and best Marvel villains to bring to the big (and small) screen. Obviously, we’ve had big names like Thanos and Ultron but Loki, the greatest Marvel series to date (and one of the best TV series on screens right now) just introduced Zaniac. It’s fair to say that even if you’re an MCU aficionado, and have rewatched the Marvel movies in order countless times, you probably aren’t too clued up on this particular name. It’s time to fix that.

The Zaniac Easter egg in Loki season 2 episode 2

In Loki season 2 episode 2 the titular anti-hero skips back in time in his quest to find Sylvie and he finds himself in London in 1977, before stumbling across the premiere for a film called Zaniac.

Zaniac premiere in Loki season 2 episode 2

Zaniac appears to be a monster movie, in which TVA agent X-5 has taken on his identity within the Sacred Timeline as an actor named Brad Wolfe (look, I know it’s complicated, but stay with us). In the new movie (it’s fictional, not a real upcoming Marvel movie sadly), Brad Wolfe stars as the lead character in Zaniac, called Zaniac.

We don’t get to see the movie or learn much more about it at all. We just see its poster, and learn that Brad Wolfe has the leading role. Unsurprisingly, given the complexity of Marvel comics, there’s more backstory there too.

Marvel comics Thor vs Zaniac

Zaniac’s story in Marvel comics, and what it could mean for Loki

Zaniac was a villain in Marvel’s Thor comics during the 1980s, first appearing in Thor Vol 1 #319 in a story titled ‘The Zaniac Craves Blood!’

Here, he was introduced as an actor named Brad Wolfe who took on the role of Zaniac in a movie of the same name because he identified with the backstory of the character. However, the lines between Brad Wolfe and Zaniac blurred and he lost sight of his identity after an accident mutated him into something far more bloodthirsty.

Now having been mutated due to exposure to radiation from the Manhattan Project, Brad Wolfe/Zaniac gained the ability to project dangerous energy knives from his hands and was driven into a frenzy because he was, at the same time, possessed by a demonic being. Talk about bad luck.

Zaniac ended up battling Thor, getting arrested, being broken out of prison, and – eventually – being killed. Upon his death, the demonic being that had possessed Zaniac spilled out of his body manifesting itself as a swarm of rats that killed Jane Foster. However, with the help of a TVA agent, Thor travels back in time to stop the disaster and save Jane.

If Loki season 2 takes any inspiration from Zaniac’s comic material, we could certainly see Brad Wolfe lose his identity and turn into Zaniac completely, acting as an antagonist for Loki to battle. Equally, the TV plotline could naturally slot in in some form (perhaps with Jane being swapped for Sylvie?).

Either way, that’s everything we know about the obscure (and up until now forgotten) Marvel villain Zaniac after the Loki Easter egg. For more Marvel magic, see what’s going on with The Marvels, the next movie in Marvel Phase 5. Or, learn about what’s new on Disney Plus this month before reading our interview with Loki’s executive producer as well as our Loki season 2 review.