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Who Is Zaniac? - The Loki Season 2 Trailer's Obscure Marvel Easter Egg Explained

"Loki" holds the distinction of being the first Marvel series on Disney+ to get a second season. The first ended with the titular god of mischief, played by Tom Hiddleston, winding up in another reality due to some multiverse-shattering implications caused by Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) and He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors). The trailer for "Loki" Season 2 shows just how far those ramifications go, which includes Loki timeslipping in a manner that will look familiar to anyone who's seen the "Spider-Verse" movies.

There are many other Easter eggs to glean from the trailer, such as a hint of Mobius (Owen Wilson) finally achieving his dream. But there are many other Marvel deep cuts, including a shot of people lined up outside a movie theater with a big banner teasing something called "The Zaniac!" While it sounds like a made-up monster B-movie, the Zaniac hails from Marvel Comics of the 1980s. He's an entity consisting of demonic, parasitic creatures sent by Dormammu of the Dark Dimension. This entity first came to Earth in the 19th century, possessing a man who would eventually become Jack the Ripper. It continued possessing people over the years until it made its way to actor Brad Wolfe, who will factor into "Loki" Season 2.

The Zaniac is typically a Thor villain

Brad Wolfe was possessed by the Dark Dimension's entity while filming a slasher movie at the University of Chicago, home to some Manhattan Project experiments. Wolfe played the villain, known as the Zaniac, when he became enraptured in a nuclear explosion caused by a technical mishap. Rather than dying, he gained super strength and the power to create knives out of raw energy. Due to the entity already within him, Wolfe went insane and began acting out the movie's plot by kidnapping a friend of Dr. Donald Blake, the comic alter-ego for Thor.

Zaniac has been largely absent from modern comics, but he's stepping into the limelight for "Loki" Season 2. Given Zaniac's connection with Thor, it makes sense for him to show up in a show with Thor's brother. Brad Wolfe will be played by Rafael Casal, who can be seen briefly in the trailer. There's another scene where he's seemingly cornered by Lokis, suggesting he'll be more than a mild-mannered actor in the series. This actually isn't the first time Zaniac has factored into a mission from the Time Variance Authority. 

"Thor" Vol. 1 #371 and #372 involve a story where Brad Wolfe gets broken out of prison but is promptly killed. The Zaniac then moves into Thug Thatcher's body, and he becomes the new monster. All this occurs while Thor contends with Justice Peace, a TVA agent. It shows how those behind the scenes of "Loki" are really delving into comic book lore to develop a whole new engaging story, and if fans weren't familiar with Zaniac before, they better get acquainted now.