Warning: This article contains full spoilers for Loki Season 2 Episode 2, which is now streaming on Disney+.
Loki Episode 2 introduces a new character who might be familiar to Marvel comics fans, but Season 2 director Dan Deleeuw says the screen version differs from the one established on the pages.
The second episode of the season, titled “Breaking Brad”, awards a large portion of its screentime to a character named Brad Wolfe, aka Hunter X-05, a former hunter for the TVA who, much like Sylvie, found a new life on Earth, where he has made a name for himself as an actor, starring in a monster movie called “Zaniac”.
— Max💫Marvel (@MaximilanMarvel) October 13, 2023
Who is Zaniac?
Marvel aficionados will know Zaniac is a comic book character created by Doug Moench and Keith Pollard in 1982’s Thor #319, as an entity working at the behest of Dormammu. He possesses various hosts, including Tom Malverne, who becomes known as the serial killer Jack the Ripper after committing multiple murders.
Further on, Zaniac possesses actor Brad Wolfe, who plays a fictionalised version of Zaniac in a slasher movie. Wolfe gains superhuman abilities from the takeover, but is ultimately driven insane by the entity. He becomes an adversary of Thor, who teams up with a TVA agent by the name of Justice Peace to put a stop to his antics.
Who is Zaniac in Loki?
In Loki, it appears that Zaniac is not the villanous figure that fans know from the comics; he is simply a character in a movie starring Brad Wolfe. Deleeuw, who helmed Episode 2, spoke to GamesRadar about the nods to the comics, but warned fans that Wolfe isn’t necessarily the Zaniac they might be expecting.
“I think, within the multiverse, in terms of him being Brad Wolfe, he’s on a timeline that’s not really gone to the evil version of that,” Deleeuw laughed while commeting on the character’s appearance in the Disney+ Loki series. “Go a few timelines over, and you’ll probably find someone who’s more like the villain character.”
“We wanted to play around with that Easter egg and introduce a character that was fairly obscure in the comics,” he continued. “But also, we couldn’t resist the idea of exploring someone that wasn’t really believing in the reality of the TVA, and the artifice of the Timekeepers and all that, being an actor. Now he’s someone that, you know, puts on a perception of reality for a living. So, it kind of worked for both sides of that.”
Brad Wolfe is not the only new character in Loki Season 2. The premiere spawned an instant fan-favourite when it introduced Ke Huy Quan’s Ouroboros (O.B.), the TVA’s resident tech expert. However, some people grew suspicious of him after realising that he hadn’t had his memory wiped by He Who Remains.
Only time will tell how it all plays out. Loki Season 2 will debut new episodes every Thursday on Disney+ through November 9. You can read IGN’s review of Episodes 1-4 here, which comes with a small warning to viewers: “Those expecting a new multiversally manic season of Loki should temper their expectations.”
Adele Ankers-Range is a freelance entertainment writer for IGN. You can follow her on X @AdeleAnkers.