20 Ways 'Die Hard' Has Changed Over the Years: Then vs. Now

The story of an ordinary man in an extraordinary franchise.
20 Ways 'Die Hard' Has Changed Over the Years: Then vs. Now

Die Hard is the Die Hard of action movies. We know this might be controversial to some of you, but it is the Die Hard of action movies – or the Fried Green Tomatoes of Fried Green Tomatoes movies, which is another absolutely valid category we just made up because emotional intelligence is as badass as Bruce Willis jumping off a Nakatomi plaza explosion. Famously, John McTiernan’s 1988 masterpiece broke with the oily, comedy writer-like muscled action icons of the ’80s, and instead gave us a more grounded story about a normal dude just trying to catch a break, get his girl back, and kill a few terrorists while he’s at it. John McClane is so us, you guys. Well, not in the sense of us being locked in a building killing terrorists, which in our this-is-getting-too-real times is just a bad concept to milk.

The point is that Die Hard is a beloved movie for us here at Cracked. See for example here, here, or here. We’re obsessed with the movie, like Jake Peralta or, well, Jake Peralta, but also with the entire franchise, which for a while was (say it with us) the Die Hard of action franchises. In this Pictofact, then, we discuss Die Hard then and now, which of course means relating it to its sequels: 1990’s Die Hard 2, 1995’s Die Hard with a Vengeance, 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard, and 2013’s The Awful Die Hard We Truly Despise So You Better Get Used To Us Being Super Mean About It. Plus, we also discuss Die Hard’s broader legacy, related works, and what it took to make its installments, which are just words to get you to appreciate our boy Bruce recently hanging out at the Nakatomi Plaza location. Seriously, that makes us so mushy inside we’re just gonna begin writing, “20 Sensitive Facts About Fried Green Tomatoes (So The Massive Fandom Stops Insisting For a Minute! Sheesh).”


Die Hard Then VS. Now 58 MINUTES BASIS FOR DIE HARD 2 WALTER WAGER The (unrelated) inspirations Die Hard 2 was based on the 1987 novel 58 Minutes, by Walter Wager. The third part was a script briefly considered for a Lethal Weapon sequel. The fourth one was based on a Wired article (and the fifth one on a children's drawing, if we had to guess). CRACKED.COM


Die Hard Then vs. Now Location, location, location The first Die Hard movies have one location: first an office building, then an airport... And then the pattern was broken, with the third movie happening all over New York, the fifth one all over the U.S. and the fifth one in our nightmares (and Moscow). CRACKED.COM


Die Hard Then vs. Now 1988 2007 From everyman to superhero In the first movies (especially the 1988 classic), John McClane is just a cop-a normal dude who gets beaten and is in pain. In the latter ones, he casually fights jets and survives falling from tall buildings. CRACKED.COM


Die Hard Then vs. Now The directors It's no coincidence that Predator's John McTiernan directed the first and third Die Hards, the best ones. Renny Harlin (The Long Kiss Goodnight) did Die Hard 2, while Underworld's Len Wiseman and the highly uneven John Moore did the fourth and fifth parts. CRACKED.COM


Die Hard Then vs. Now 1988 It's all about family In the last two Die Hards, we meet John McClane's son Jack and his way cooler daughter Lucy (Jai Courtney and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, respectively). And of course, the franchise wouldn't exist without McClane's wife Holly, played by the great Bonnie Bedelia. 2013 2007 CRACKED.COM


Die Hard Then vs. Now The casting The franchise always had great performers. Alan Rickman, Paul Gleason, William Atherton, Franco Nero, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson, Timothy Olyphant, Mary Elizabeth Winstead... And then A Great Day to Die Hard came along, with the blandest cast ever. CRACKED.COM

Battery Ad

Die Hard Then vs. Now DieHard AGM Homes POWER AHEAD PLATINUM From action classic to ad What happens after a franchise has run its course? You sell car batteries, apparently. In 2020, Bruce Willis himself appeared as John McClane in an ad, with the actors that played Theo and Argyle in the 1988 original reprising their roles. - - PLATINOM CRACKED.COM

Die Hard 2

Die Hard Then vs. Now The sequel in need of reconsideration. We could praise Die Hard with a Vengeance or bash A Good Day to Die Hard, but here we're going with Die Hard 2. It's an underrated action flick, and a great companion piece to the unbeatable 1988 masterpiece. CRACKED.COM
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