The Massacre at the Cinema Theatre was Johann Fennhoff's attempt to test the Midnight Oil he had stolen from Howard Stark. The resulting massacre was soon discovered by the Strategic Scientific Reserve.
During the so-called Battle of Finow, Johann Fennhoff lost his brother when Midnight Oil, a faulty experimental stimulant developed by Howard Stark, was deployed by General John McGinnis. Fennhoff swore revenge on Stark for creating the gas. Towards that plot, the inventions of Stark were stolen, but later recovered by Peggy Carter and taken to the New York Bell Company Office branch of the Strategic Scientific Reserve. Midnight Oil was labelled "Item 17".
Dottie Underwood, Fennhoff's personal assassin, learned that Midnight Oil was "Item 17" when she stole the key and entered the room of Carter and saw its picture while there. Fennhoff came to the United States of America, entered the SSR Office and stole the container holding the gas. However, he needed to be sure that the product still worked after its long dormancy. Underwood bought a baby carriage, placed the container with the gas inside, and put it in a cinema theater as people watched the movie, "The "F" Stands for Freedom".
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Knowing that Midnight Oil was still viable and lethal, Johann Fennhoff and Dottie Underwood worked on a way to disburse the other containers of the gas they had. Ultimately, they kidnapped Howard Stark and planned to have him disburse the gas over Times Square during the city's celebration of the anniversary of V-E Day.
The New York City Police Department called the New York Bell Company Office branch of the Strategic Scientific Reserve to help them to investigate the massacre. Agent Daniel Sousa inhaled a small quantity of the gas and had to be subdued when he tried to kill Agents Peggy Carter and Jack Thompson.