(aka the Everyman Action Hero)
Like I do every Christmas, I rewatched Die Hard recently, and because I'm like one of those bears that can't be satisfied by fish after it gets a taste for human flesh, I ignored all other movies/life obligations in favor of watching Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Die Hard: With a Vengeance. (I don't rewatch Live Free or Die Hard ... more on that later.)
All three of those movies are amazing, but the first Die Hard will always have a special place in my heart. Not only is it one of the most well-structured movies in the history of film, it's also got the perfect example of the Everyman Action Hero. John McClane isn't a super cop, he's just a good cop who is doing his best in a bad situation. He's not even that great when it comes to solving whatever crime he's working on; every clue that he gets is acquired by accident, and he doesn't usually figure out what the terrorists are up to until it's just about too late. He isn't super strong or super bright or super anything. He gets in fights with his wife and drinks too much and barely knows how to dress himself. He's just a guy. Which is great, because I'm just a guy, so if this whole Internet comedy thing doesn't work out, maybe I can grow up to be Die Hard.
The success of Die Hard paved the way for plenty of movies with similarly average protagonists stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time (Nicolas Cage in The Rock, Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, even Gordon Freeman in Half-Life), and they all ruled, except for The Rock, which only kinda ruled.
Instead, They're Making ...
The Everyman Action Hero is dead. He was killed and replaced by Jason Bourne, and I don't know if we'll ever get him back. Audiences, apparently, no longer want to watch a good, average cop who happens to be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time; they want to see impossibly tough/smart/resourceful/cool supercops. They want Jason Bourne, or that other guy who isn't Jason Bourne, but is still mostly Jason Bourne.