Who Is Zaniac, the Thor Villain Appearing in LOKI Season 2?

With the new Loki season two trailer, Marvel fans spotted a reference to a very obscure character from the pages of Marvel Comics—the murderous and monstrous Zaniac. It looks like he’ll be taking on Loki and Sylvie at some point during the series, probably during the 1970s. But who is this long-forgotten Marvel baddie? Here’s the comic book history of the killer called Zaniac.

(L) Actor Rafeal Casal, in Loki season two (R) the Thor villain Zaniac.
Marvel Studios/Marvel Comics

Zaniac is a villain that first appeared in Thor #319, back in 1982. Created by writer Doug Moench and artist Keith Pollard, this wild villain is a relatively obscure one from the God of Thunder’s pantheon of bad guys. While most of Thor’s main villains are other mythological beings, occasionally, he fights a more Earth-bound villain like Zaniac. Although, Zaniac’s powers came from otherworldly forces. So god or not, he was definitely more than a mere human.

Who Is Zaniac in Marvel Comics?

The cover for Thor #319, the first appearance of Zaniac, from 1982.
Marvel Comics

In the late 19th century, Dormammu, Lord of the Dark Dimension and mortal enemy of Doctor Strange, exiled an entity to Earth to possess a mortal human to be his agent of chaos. This being attached itself to a deformed and shunned man named Tom Malverne, a man harboring bitter resentment for the way the world treated him. With the power of this entity within him, Malverne went on a murderous rampage in 1888 London, where he butchered five women. He became the serial killer we know as Jack the Ripper. Once the person it possessed died, the entity continued to possess as the decades went on.

Also, this is the basic idea for the original Star Trek episode “Wolf in the Fold.”

Zaniac Fights Thor

Thor vs. the Zaniac, from 1982's Thor #319.
Marvel Comics

This brings us to the modern day. A movie star by the name of Brad Wolfe was filming a slasher movie at the University of Chicago, which was where many early experiments for the Manhattan Project took place. While in costume as the film’s slasher villain, the Zaniac, Wolfe found himself trapped in a nuclear explosion. A pyrotechnics accident on set triggered residual radiation from the Manhattan Project experiments of the 1940s, causing this explosion. Wolfe gained incredible super strength and could create energy knives with a thought. Clad in the killer’s movie costume, he became the Zaniac.

Zaniac goes on a rampage in 1982's Thor #319.
Marvel Comics

The Entity drove Wolfe to madness; it also amplified Wolfe’s already inherent misogyny. He began to act out the movie’s plotlines. He kidnapped Shawna Lynde, a friend of Thor’s alter-ego Dr. Donald Blake. Thor saved Shawna from Zaniac, but Zaniac got away. He then attempted to act out the movie’s ending in real life, which involved murdering dozens of innocent women. Victims he called his “pretty pretties”. Luckily, Thor ended Zaniac’s plans. Zaniac only appeared a few more times, and Marvel killed him off in 1986’s Thor #372, a story where the Time Variance Authority appears.

How Could Zaniac Tie into Loki Season Two?

A movie theater in the 1970 shows the film Zaniac in Loki season two.
Marvel Studios

Judging from the second trailer for Loki season two, we are getting this obscure Thor villain in the MCU. Not only do we see a movie marquee and several posters for the movie Zaniac, which shows a movie monster in the character’s traditional bright yellow skin, but we see actor Rafael Casal, who is probably playing movie star Brad Wolfe in the film. We don’t know if the MCU version will be an entity from the Dark Dimension, but there’s no reason not to tie it into Doctor Strange mythology. Especially as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ended with Strange and Clea headed for the Dark Dimension. Fans have been asking for more connections between MCU projects, and maybe this is it. We’ll find out on October 6, when Loki season two premieres on Disney+.

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