The experiment which created Captain America was very very sensitive. So why wasn't it performed in a secure military base?

While the experiment base was hidden well in the city, it still had only minimal protection encouraging foes to steal the serum. A highly secure military base should have prevented a bomb and pistol from getting inside. And the guest would never think of escaping a military perimeter (and the serum might have been saved even if it was taken).

Why exactly was the experiment not performed in a secure military base?

  • 4
    I have a feeling that it has been addressed in first Captain America movie. Jun 1, 2014 at 2:20

2 Answers 2


Stark Sr. makes it pretty clear that the base was chosen (and presumably situated in the middle of New York City) in order to gain access to the powerful electricity supply needed to fuel the experimental "vita-ray" generators;

Stark (spoken to technician): How are your levels?

Technician #1 : Levels at 100%.

Stark : Good.

Stark (aloud to Colonel Phillips) : We may dim half the lights in Brooklyn but we are ready.

As @AnthonyGrist has pointed out, there's an even better quote a few minutes before that identifies the twin reasons:

  • Because they need access to the power grid

  • Because Senator Brandt is too cheap to fund them for a proper base

Colonel Chester Phillips : Senator Brandt, glad you could make it.

Brandt : Why exactly am I in Brooklyn?

Colonel Chester Phillips : We needed access to the city's power grid. Of course if you had given me a generalized requisition...

Brandt : A lot of people are asking for funds

  • 6
    In the original canon universe, it WAS done in a secure facility. A spy penetrates the base acting as a staff member and kills the scientist but fails to get away with the serum (or so we are told). Jul 25, 2014 at 21:13
  • 4
    While what you've said is correct, I think there's a better quote from that screenplay: "Senator Brandt, glad you could make it." "Why exactly am I in Brooklyn?" "We needed access to the cities power grid. Of course if you had given me a generalized requisition." Seems like the issue was mostly a lack of available funding, necessitating that they use an existing power grid rather than building their own or using a large number of generators. Jul 25, 2014 at 21:21
  • 1
    Purely as a secondary explanation, I've had personal experience with defense-related experiments that succeeded, and nobody had given real thought to what would happen in that case. For a really blue-sky project such as the Super-Soldier project, it would not surprise me if, simply, nobody in the military really believed that it would work, and so the need for a secure facility was never really paid attention to. Jul 26, 2014 at 0:15
  • 1
    Near Niagara Falls would have been: 1) much more secure and 2) much closer to the biggest power source on the eastern seaboard prior to nuclear power.
    – RoboKaren
    Jul 26, 2014 at 3:46
  • 1
    @RoboKaren - How would Niagara falls be more secure? If nothing else, it's on the border with a foreign country.
    – Valorum
    Jul 26, 2014 at 6:36

The OP's question presupposes that sensitive military research necessarily takes place in relatively remote, heavily guarded facilities. This is an unfounded presupposition, I believe. For example, the Chicago Pile-1, where the first ever controlled chain reaction happened (and which was a fundamental part of the Manhattan Project that eventually built the first atomic bombs), was located underneath one of the sports fields of the University of Chicago, not that far off from downtown Chicago. The linked wikipedia entry closes off its description of the experiment as follows.

Unlike most reactors that have been built since, CP-1 had no radiation shielding and no cooling system of any kind. Fermi had convinced Arthur Compton that his calculations were reliable enough to rule out a runaway chain reaction or an explosion. But, as the official historians of the Atomic Energy Commission later noted, the "gamble" remained in conducting "a possibly catastrophic experiment in one of the most densely populated areas of the nation!"

At least the Captain America fellas weren't risking blowing up Manhattan if someone sneezed.

  • Ha! Good point!
    – Nerrolken
    May 11, 2015 at 17:50

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