The Midnight Oil was a chemical weapon in gas form created by Howard Stark, which he classified as one of his most dangerous.
During World War II, General John McGinnis raided the laboratory of Howard Stark and took all of his designs. Learning about the Midnight Oil, he decided to use the gas on the Russian army to motivate them to attack the Germans and take Finow. However, the weapon made them go into a murderous rage and they started to kill each other. Johann Fennhoff, who survived the incident, swore to take vengeance for this since it killed his brother. Stark later saw the results of the massacre and broke all connections with the U.S army after it.
Theft and Retrieval
Brannis, wanting to make profit for himself, stored the gas along with the rest of Stark's inventions on a boat named The Heartbreak, guarded by Jerome Zandow, who could not prevent Peggy Carter from finding it, and the item was later claimed by the Strategic Scientific Reserve, who took the inventions into their custody for study.
Doctor Johann Fennhoff, posing as a former prisoner of Leviathan, hypnotized Chief Roger Dooley to retrieve the gas, and ordered him to wear the Stark Heat Vest to provide a distraction while he escaped from the New York Bell Company Office. Dottie Underwood picked up Fennhoff, who informed her that they needed to test the effectiveness of the weapon before using it. Underwood released the gas from one of its canisters inside a movie theater, locking the patrons inside, and they started to brutally attack and kill each other.
While investigating the movie theater massacre, Daniel Sousa accidentally inhaled the gas when he found the canister. He began coughing and choking, drawing the attention of Jack Thompson. Sousa attacked Thompson and started to strangle him. Peggy Carter went to assist Thompson; Sousa slapped her away. Eventually, Sousa was knocked unconscious by a police officer's baton.
When he awakened, strapped to a bed, he did not have a clear memory of what he had done.
Johann Fennhoff and Dottie Underwood went to a hangar owned by Howard Stark as they wanted to spread the Midnight Oil by plane. However, Fennhoff heard about the return of Stark and they decided to abduct him.
After they captured him, Fennhoff explained to Stark how the military used his weapon on the Russians during the war intending to motivate them. However, the weapon made them slaughter each other with their bare hands. Wearing a gas mask, Fennhoff was forced to watch his comrades, including his brother, killing each other. Stark explained it was never his intention to make anything like this and he expressed regret. Fennhoff said he wanted vengeance on Stark, but did not want to see him hurt. Fennhoff then hypnotized Stark to make him believe he would go to Steve Rogers, while in fact he would be spreading the Midnight Oil and killing thousands of people. Using a radio, Fennhoff kept in touch with Stark as he guided him. Peggy Carter burst in and forced them to stop with a shotgun. After a prolonged fight between the women, Carter used the radio and managed to make Stark snap out of the trance and convinced him to fly back carrying the Midnight Oil.
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Originally designed as a combat drug, capable of keeping its users awake for an extended period of time, the Midnight Oil carries severe side effects, causing those who inhale it to display symptoms resembling extreme sleep deprivation including anger, hallucinations, and psychosis. Individuals affected by the drug are driven into a state of mindless rage, blindly attacking anyone around them. It also attacks the respiratory system, specifically the larynx, as it can cause asphyxiation or other damage that would require a laryngectomy.
In chronological order:
- In the comics, the Madbomb was a sonic device designed for the Imperial Forces by the scientist Mason Harding, which caused people to go insane and attack each other.
- An early version of the plot of the third Captain America movie did not involve Robert Downey, Jr. and the Civil War storyline - instead, Joe and Anthony Russo considered focusing the story around Helmut Zemo using the Madbomb on the world.