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Why ‘Die Hard’ (Still) Matters

This was in the wake of news that Bruce Willis and director Len Wiseman (“Live Free or Die Hard”) were re-teaming to give the grizzled John McClane another go. The story would be part prequel, which has many fans up in arms.

Why would Eric D. Wilkinson, a relatively unknown writer/producer, take out an ad to pitch his own “Die Hard” movie, when the likelihood of it working is little more than zero? Well, probably for the same reasons another writer/producer wrote a fan script for “Die Hard 6” and went through great lengths to get other fans to read and celebrate it. Maybe even why comic book writer Mark Millar gave his own ideas for a new “Die Hard” movie in a recent interview.

It all comes from a similar place of passion these men have for a franchise that has helped define the Everyman hero and put a new-world spin on machismo.

Die Hard (1988) - Welcome To The Party, Pal Scene (2/5) | Movieclips
John McClane wasn’t the size of a tank like a Schwarzenegger or Stallone, and he certainly wasn’t the heroic type. He was flawed, minded his own business and just wanted the simple things in life, like getting his wife and kids back.

He made mistakes which is profound to see even today in an action picture. He admitted he let his family go. When the action arrives, and it’s time to step up, McClane improvised without knowing exactly what the right thing to do was.

All this is what has made “Die Hard” a film that has stood at the forefront of its genre. It’s also, however, what has made the movie an underrated masterpiece. Consider the film’s influence for a moment. Not only did it inspire countless ripoffs and turn Willis into a star, it left a distinct impression on a generation of young men now old enough to create their own John McClane stories.

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In the same way that “Star Wars” is often cited as a seminal influence in filmmaking for big-budget directors like J.J. Abrams, “Die Hard” had a similar impact on many artists who feel an ownership over their childhood hero. “Die Hard” taught many how to love action movies and the finer points of being a good, albeit sarcastic, man.

Wilkinson, Millar and Ben Trebilcook (the writer of the aforementioned “Die Hard 6” fan script) are all around the same age. They saw the original “Die Hard” when they were teens, probably the time when they were considering becoming artists.

It speaks volumes about the film’s impact that these men today still want justice done for the character and have the head space for the franchise to be throwing out their own “Die Hard” ideas.

DID YOU KNOW: The list of leading men who were offered Willis’ ‘Die Hard’ role includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Don Johnson and Frank Sinatra.

The “Die Hard generation” may also explain the shift in the 4th and 5th films in the franchise. Many have complained that the character has become too invincible and more hero-like than the original trilogy. This has everything to do with the fact that the reigns of the franchise have been handed to people like Wiseman, John Moore (director of “A Good Day to Die Hard”) and Skip Woods (who wrote “Good Day”). These artists are all confessed fans of the series. They see John McClane as perhaps more of a superhero than those who first created the character.

There are a generation of artists who owe a great deal to “Die Hard,” artistically and personally. It’s why they feel compelled to throw their hats in the ring when it comes to a new John McClane adventure. Yippee-ki-yay.

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