While people tend to consider Die Hard the greatest of Christmas action movie (and why wouldn't they, it's perfect, goddamnit), there sure are lots of them out there: Reindeer Games, Batman Returns, First Blood -- and really does anything typify the holiday season better than Jackie Chan sliding down a string of exploding Christmas lights in the middle of a shopping mall at the end of Police Story?
But the unsung hero of the Christmas action movie is Shane Black, who manages to shoehorn yuletide joy into nearly every script he writes. Of course, there's the neo-noir Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which finds Robert Downey Jr. tangled up in a murder mystery during the holidays. And who could forget The Long Kiss Goodnight in which our heroine is first introduced playing Santa's (questionably much-younger) wife in a Christmas parade.
Even Black's lone contribution to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man 3, was set at Christmas. This may seem like an out-of-control obsession, but there's a method to Black's gingerbread-spiced madness. According to Black, he likes the emotional "backdrop" of the holidays, which provide "a little stutter in the march of days, a hush in which we have a chance to assess and retrospect our lives." And for "lonelier" characters, that "loneliness is heightened at Christmas."
And he's right. Think about the end of his first script, Lethal Weapon. It's one thing to have the jaded, suicidal Riggs form a friendship with his new partner Murtaugh by the end, but to have him be invited in for Christmas dinner adds a whole other layer of significance.
Amazingly the scene still works all these years later, even despite the fact that one of these guys is a hate-filled jagoff.
Top Image: Warner Bros., Marvel Studios