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Loki Season 2 introduces Thor villain Zaniac to MCU - but just what is it?

The trailer for Loki Season 2 features a monstrous antagonist that, in the comics, is responsible for the Jack the Ripper murders

Disney+'s Loki Season 2 trailer has a lot going for it. Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan's first appearance in the MCU, the return of Sophia Di Martino's Sylvie, and even an appearance by Kang - it's a memorable one. But for fans of Marvel's darker fare, the trailer's got something else going on: confirmation of the Thor villain and serial killer Zaniac.

But just who is the Zaniac? And what does it want? Let's break it down.

Who is Marvel's Zaniac?

Image credit: Marvel Comics

Created by Doug Moench and Keith Pollard, the Zaniac first appears in Thor #319. Originally a nameless entity from the Dark Dimension, Zaniac was sent to earth by Doctor Strange big bad Dormammu to cause pain and suffering amongst mortals. And cause them it did. Landing in London at the turn of the 19th century, the being later called Zaniac would possess a man by the name of Tom Malverne. Already angry at the world, Malverne had sociopathic tendencies the Zaniac could control, transforming him into the serial killer the world would call 'Jack the Ripper.'

Yes, you read that right. There is an in-canon explanation for Jack the Ripper in the pages of Marvel Comics, owned by Walt Disney Studios.

It's a small world and all that.

After the death of its original host, the entity hopped through time, inspiring other strings of murders under the Ripper name, until it got to the late 20th century. There, it finds horror movie actor Brad Wolfe, star of a slasher entitled "Zaniac." After an explosion fused the actor's costume onto his body, the entity takes over, convincing Wolfe to act out violence under his monster movie moniker.

Who is Zaniac in Loki Season 2?

Image credit: Marvel Studios

It seems like that movie monster is how the entity is going to represent itself in the upcoming second season of Loki.

When the trailer hits 1:45, we can see actor Rafael Casal attending a movie premiere. All the way back in July of 2022, Deadline reported that Casal would have a 'major role' in this season, even speculating that he would be playing Zaniac. Now, the image above seems to confirm their suspicions - to Casal's right is a poster for the Zaniac movie and a blurry image of his monster character. And to his left, someone is holding a sign that reads, 'Marry Me, Brad Wolfe.' It appears that the MCU Zaniac is going to skip becoming an old-timey serial killer and just show up in the modern day.

Or will it?

Is the Zaniac still a serial killer in Loki?

Image credit: Marvel Studios

Alright True Believers, put on your tin foil hats; it's fan theory time. Before we begin though, let me just preface this by saying I'm only speculating here. If this theory turns out to be wrong, don't get mad at me.

At about the minute mark of the Loki S2 trailer, we see Tom Hiddleston's titular God of Mischief and Owen Wilson's Mobius M. Mobius appear in late 19th century garb. In the very next shot, we see they are standing under a large Ferris Wheel, seemingly the centerpiece of some urban celebration, like a holiday or perhaps...a fair?

History buffs know that the Ferris Wheel didn't show up until the very end of the 1800s, and that the first one was exhibited as part of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Here's where things get interesting: as documented in the ground-breaking true crime novel The Devil in the White City, that year's world's fair was not just the site of modern mechanical marvels like the Ferris Wheel. It was also the hunting grounds of notorious American serial killer (and, in some circles, Jack the Ripper suspect) H.H. Holmes.

Could the Loki trailer be hinting that the MCU's version of the Zaniac stems from, or is somehow involved with, the crimes of H.H. Holmes? Admittedly, it would be a pretty dark turn for a Disney property.

But hey, if you're already working comicdom's Jack the Ripper into your show, maybe you're OK with dark.

Loki Season 2 streams on Disney+ October 6.


Want to know more about Marvel's favorite trickster before the new season drops? Read up on everything we know about Loki Season 2.

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About the Author
Grant DeArmitt avatar

Grant DeArmitt

Contributing writer

Grant DeArmitt (he/him) likes horror, comics, and the unholy pairing of the two. He has written for Nightmare on Film Street and Newsarama, despite their better judgement. He lives in Brooklyn with his partner, Kelsey, and corgi, Legs.

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