Die Hard will live in the history of film was an eternity. No matter how many action movies come out, it’s a defining genre piece that helped evolve the world of action films and made Bruce Willis the star that he is today. Recently, it was revealed that Bruce Willis was forced to retire from acting due to aphasia, a disorder that is caused by damage to the brain that controls language expression and comprehension. Willis and the Die Hard franchise will always be synonymous with one another as John McClane is an iconic action figure who’s forever cemented his place in the world of movies. Prior to the announcement of the actor’s sudden retirement, there were talks of a reboot of the once-popular franchise. There was even a rumor of a Die Hard television series in the works back in 2021 for Netflix.
The critical and financial failure of A Good Day to Die Hard, which was actually supposed to launch a new franchise with Jai Courtney’s Jack McClane as the lead protagonist, has put the series on hold. Considering the fact that all the movies combined have made over a billion dollars, it would be shocking if the final product of the series is the 2013 stinker. However, with Bruce Willis is out of commission, is it a good idea to recharge the Die Hard series? As I previously stated, Die Hard set a precedent for action films going forward. The first movie wasn’t just about some muscular dude beating bad guys left and right, it centered around an everyday man being called into action. Die Hard had heart because of the story arc involving McClane and his wife, but it also gave some welcome development to supporting characters in the film. That magic won’t be recaptured again. Is it possible to make another good Die Hard movie? Of course! But the chances of it being a game-changer like the very first movie are slim to none.
In truth, it’s a good thing that A Good Day to Die Hard didn’t pan out the way studios wanted to. This isn’t a shot at Jai Courtney or anyone involved, but the issue is that no matter the face that executives try to replace John McClane with, it will be nearly impossible to move past the original’s shadow. It doesn’t help that Jack McClane wasn’t exactly an exciting character to follow in the first place. In fact, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Lucy McClane would’ve had a better chance of helming the franchise than Jack, and she wasn’t being billed as an action heroine. The problem is that Die Hard just doesn’t have that freshness in the modern age that warrants a reboot or another tired sequel. And the biggest issue is that this is Bruce Willis’s franchise, and replacing him just wouldn’t feel like a Die Hard series. There’s so many memorable quotes and moments from the series that it’ll be impossible to match what the original films brought to the table. Even following a young McClane, which was the latest idea before it was shut down, still wouldn’t do justice to the brand as a whole. It’s not just the fact that a young actor would have to fill the shoes of the Bruce Willis character, but Die Hard isn’t some character driven piece that warrants more exploration into the daily life of John McClane.
Yes, character development in the series happens, but it’s an action film first, do we really need to do a prequel about John McClane? What exactly about his life really warrants one? He’s a cop so he likely has a dozen stories bubbled up inside, but it could end up being another Die Hard sequence featuring the younger version. A more dramatic version of his daily life could be good, but it would be a departure of the signature franchise. It’s best to just leave the franchise alone. Even if Bruce Willis made an onscreen, non-speaking appearance in the reboot that signified change, Die Hard just isn’t Die Hard without him. Disney/Fox would be better off investing all of their money and resources in trying to conjure up a new action franchise. Obviously, it’s easier said than done as it has to be a box office hit like Die Hard, but if fans barely came out to see the fifth film in 2013, do executives really think a new face can really rescue this sinking ship? I’m not a fortune teller, so never say never, but there’s only so much you can do by trying to milk a franchise for all it’s worth.