Zangief (ザンギエフ) is a video game character created by Capcom. He is part of the Street Fighter series of fighting games, first starring in Street Fighter 2. His signature fighting style is close up and wrestler based, with devastating throws and powerful base moves. This makes him tough up close, though often has trouble with foes with projectiles.
In the Alpha series, Zangief is a national Russian hero nicknamed the "Red Cyclone" who becomes acquainted with Gorbachev at the end of Alpha 2. After meeting Gorbachev, Zangief is sent to train in the Siberian wastes, wrestling bears.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 Edit
Under orders from Gorbachev, Zangief is sent to combat the forces of Shadaloo, which is beginning to spread its corruption into Russia. Zangief encounters many fighters along the way, befriending some such as E. Honda and R. Mika. It is believed that he lost to Blanka before he could accomplish his final objective of destroying the Psycho Drive, however in his ending, he and Honda team up to destroy it (the canonicity of this ending is dubious). Nevertheless, the Psycho Drive gets destroyed by someone, at least, and Zangief returns to Russia satisfied.
Street Fighter II Edit
He then participates in the second World Warrior Tournament, hosted by Shadaloo, at the behest of Gorbachev. He loses to either Ken or Ryu (commenting in Street Fighter IV that fireballs are a "pain in the neck" and that "Dragon Punches suck too", suggesting that he has lost to someone who uses them - whether it was Ken or Ryu is unclear, as he tells Ryu "glad you haven't lost it" in his SF4 win quote, but if he loses to Ken in SF4, Ken tells him "Looks like you're still no match for my Dragon Punch, eh?"). In any case, after the tournament, Zangief - dissatisfied with the outcome - returns to training in the Russian wilderness, wrestling bears. Eventually, he is approached by the largest wrestling organisation in the world with an eye to signing the "Red Cyclone" to their promotion. Zangief at first refuses, saying that he is less interested in money than he is in bringing honor to Russia by demonstrating Russian strength. He is promised a stage to better showcase his skills, with his matches watched by millions. Zangief accepts.
Street Fighter IV Edit
Zangief enters the World Tournament held by S.I.N. to prove to his young fans (some of whom are beginning to claim that martial artists are better) that he's still got it. After the tournament, Zangief frantically realizes that he hasn't gotten a souvenir, and says "I didn't even understand what the last guy (Seth) was saying before I beat him". He then has an idea and takes a photograph holding the beaten Seth (main boss and host of the tournament) in a headlock, which is then viewed by the admiring young fans who recognize Seth as the "bad guy from the TV.
Zangief is a close-range character as he is a wrestling type. Many of his moves are more complicated to pull off due to the 360 motions input required to perform the moves, making him a character for advanced players. Zangief is one of the slowest of all characters in the Street Fighter games, and presents a large target, yet is widely considered high-tier as he has several means to bypass projectile attacks such as Spinning Lariat and Banishing Flat, the ability to walk unphased into a hit during his Flying Power Bomb, and the ability of his Spinning Piledriver to grab opponents out of most ground-based moves.
His "Spinning Piledriver" was the single most damaging special move in the original Street Fighter II series, until the introduction of T. Hawk, and is capable of "sucking in" opponents from a surprising distance. Zangief's Flying Stomach block attack (U, D + FP) is the only standard move capable of dizzying a character in one hit in the Street Fighter II series. In most incarnations, Zangief is extremely dangerous against floored opponents as he is able to force them to block regular attacks so that he can pin them in place to deliver a powerful throw or hold. From Super Street Fighter II Turbo onwards, Zangief became capable of performing a dynamic rushdown with the addition of his Banishing Flat.
In Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, a "Mecha Zangief" is introduced. This is an even slower version of the big guy who can't block; and just as well, since he takes reduced damage from everything, excluding a beam-style attack. He also can't be stopped, taking only a slight slowdown when hit by almost anything, and picked up a Yoga Blast-like attack, the Siberian Breath.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes brought Zangief back in. This time, he could transform into Mecha Zangief, much to the dismay of people who chronically picked Wolverine and Spiderman as a team. He keeps this ability in the second sequel.
In the first two crossover games, he had a unique team super move: the Double Final Atomic Buster. He would rumble towards his enemy similarly to his Flying Powerbomb. Should he reach, his partner shows up from the other side, and both leap up past the top of the arena (yes, this means out of a crossover's ultra-high arena). The two come crashing down with the unfortunate payload in a single nonspinning piledriver. This doesn't reappear in Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
In many games, Zangief is voiced by Wataru Takagi. In the Capcom vs SNK series, Tesshō Genda voices Zangief. In Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, he is voiced by Tetsuo Kanao (Japanese) and William Johnson (English). In The English version of Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation, he is voiced by Joe Romersa. In this portrayal, he never utters a word and growls like a beast instead, showing little to no humanity.
He was played by Andrew Bryniarski in the Street Fighter movie. Here he was a lackey of Bison's and served as comic relief in the movie, uttering silly lines at inappropriate times (for example, after seeing televised feed of a truck loaded with explosives about to crash into the villains' camp, he yells out, "Quick! Change the channel!"). He also had a long fight with E. Honda and one "hero moment" near the end of the movie. Zangief was also a loyalist to Bison until Dee Jay explained Bison was the "bad guy." Zangief then learned that Bison promised Dee Jay that he would be paid, while he himself was not.
Character Development Edit
Zangief's name is possibly based on real-life pro wrestler Victor Zangiev, a former Soviet amateur who trained as a professional in NJPW, and who also competed in WCW and UWF International. Zangief's prototypical name was Vodka Gobalsky. Zangief's biography apparently plays upon the association between Stalinist regimes and state-funded athletics programs utilizing bodybuilding drugs following the domination of the 1954 World Weightlifting Championships by the Soviet Union. His appearence was possibly influenced by several professional wrestlers who peformed with the New Japan Pro Wrestling Circut during the time period of Street Fighter II's development in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Specifically, his physique is similar to that of Soviet wrestler Salman Hashimikov, while his facial appearance, including his beard, seems to be a slight nod to American wrestler "Dr. Death" Steve Williams.
Zangief is similar to the original 1987 version of Birdie, as both characters are depicted as very large men with mohawk haircuts. Zangief is also similar in terms of build and fighting style to Mike Haggar from Final Fight, whose spinning clothesline move he emulates, not to mention that Zangief's alternate costume in Street Fighter IV is a nod to Mike Haggar's costume.