In the movie Captain America: The First Avenger, we hear this dialogue between Steve Rogers and Colonel Chester Philips:

Col. Chester Phillips: You're an experiment. You're going to Alamogordo.
Steve Rogers: The serum worked.
Col. Chester Phillips: I asked for an army and all I got was you. You are not enough.

Given that this takes place in the second World War (about 1940-1944) and the serum was a great technological invention, shouldn't they think that he could lead in a battle instead of dancing with girls for fund-raising?

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    He wanted a whole army of super-soldiers and he only got one inexperience guy straight out of boot
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 14:34
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    The right man, in the wrong place, can make all the difference in the world. Great, I want to play Half-Life 2 now... Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 2:08
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    Sounds like the quote already answers the question: he wanted an army but only got one person. It seems like you're trying to argue that Captain America should've been enough for him, but that doesn't change his reason. But as a counter-argument: someone trying to win a war doesn't care so much about great technological inventions that might be useful at some point in the future. Also, one bullet can kill any man, and he probably didn't have a reason to believe that Cap was that much better (if at all better) than any other man.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 2:18

2 Answers 2


Phillips didn’t want to send Steve off on the tour to get people to sign up, his plan was for Cap to go to Alamogordo to try and reproduce the serum so he could create the army he wanted. It is Brandt that decides to send him off on the tour to get more people to sign up/war bonds, Brandt’s comments immediately after the part you’ve quoted makes both his and Phillips motivations clear.

Senator Brandt: With all due respect to the Colonel, I think we may be missing the point. I’ve seen you in action, Steve. More importantly, the country’s seen it. Paper. The enlistment lines have been around the block since your picture hit the newsstands. You don’t take a soldier, a symbol like that, and hide him in a lab. Son, do you want to serve your country on the most important battlefield of the war?

Captain America: The First Avenger

He’s not enough because one man is never usually going to be enough and they’re still not sure how good the formula is. But even if the serum was excellent Steve can’t be everywhere in the war at once. Phillips’ plan was to recreate the serum using Steve’s blood and create an army that would all but guarantee the victory.

Brandt came along and suggested instead they use Steve to get people to sign up as more men would help create the victory. He then later used Steve to get people to buy war bonds to help fund the war.

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    But you can send movie stars -- female, or with medical issues -- out to sell bonds. Only Steve can be used to duplicate the serum. Hence, the conflict.
    – Mary
    Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 15:38
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    @Mary The Senator sees it better than the Colonel in this case I think. An army of soldiers with super serum is a threat to the country. A single super soldier inspiring an entire army? (potentially Martyred overseas?) That is a lot cheaper and has the added effect of dropping enemy morale if they see a super soldier tear through their lines.
    – IT Alex
    Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 14:26
  • @ITAlex Anything that can win a war is a threat to the country.
    – Mary
    Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 22:51

Knowledge has been lost

In the middle of the experiment that created Captain America, the Dr. Erskine, the German scientist leading the project (Stanley Tucci), was killed by a Nazi assassin. Because of poor "bus factor", the knowledge of how to reproduce the experiment at scale died with Dr. Erskine.

Col. Philips was frustrated by the huge setback in the project.

Col. Philips wanted to send Captain America to Alamogordo to assist other scientists in trying to reconstruct Dr. Erskine's work, a role which would basically consist of being a "lab rat".

The context was "going to Germany to fight HYDRA"

"You are not enough" means that Philips wanted more than one soldier to square off against HYDRA.

Col. Chester Philips: I spoke to the president this morning. As of today, the SSR is being re-tasked. We are taking the fight to HYDRA. Pack your bags, Agent Carter. You too, Stark. We're flying to London tonight.
Steve Rogers: Sir, if you're going after Schmidt, I want in.
Col. Chester Phillips: You're an experiment. You're going to Alamogordo.
Steve Rogers: The serum worked.
Col. Chester Phillips: I asked for an army and all I got was you. You are not enough.

... (to fight HYDRA).

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