Big Deaths, Bad Titles: Die Hard Lives On


John McClane sneering at the title of the newest Die Hard film

You won’t be able to tell, superficially, that Bruce Willis has aged–his level of baldness has remained unchanged since the mid-90s–but there are some signs of wear and tear on the newest, fifth iteration of the long-running Die Hard series, in which Willis stars as detective John McClane. While 1988’s Die Hard and 1990’s Die Hard 2: Die Harder sported titles that were tight and a little angry–exactly how we want our action heroes–the series appears to have gotten a little bloated in its middle age. The most recent film is called A Good Day to Die Hard. What does that even mean? When exactly is anyone ready to be dead? In the spirit of snark, we present McClane’s most spectacular kills from the franchise so far, accompanied by new titles even worse than the dead-on A Good Day to Die Hard.

Die Hard (1988)

No Die Hard slideshow would be complete without the death of German terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), who falls off the side of Nakatomi Tower on Christmas Eve at the end of the first film. Due to Gruber’s mod-era mop of hair and nighttime demise, we suggest that the original Die Hard film be given the Beatles-inspired subtitle A Hard Day’s Night to Die Hard.

Die Hard 2: Die Harder

In the second Die Hard movie, South American dictator General Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero) of fictitious Val Verde loses all hope (see what we did there? Esperanza is Spanish for ‘hope.’) of escaping U.S. custody and punishment for his war crimes when McClane explodes the plane Esperanza had hijacked. Such a catastrophic end deserves the title The Day Before Dying Hard Tomorrow.

Die Hard With a Vengeance

Katya, not screaming

The third film in the franchise ends with yet another burning aeronautical vehicle–this time, a helicopter. Inside are Hans Gruber, Simon’s younger brother, and his lover/partner-in-crime Katya (Sam Phillips), who is Ukrainian and mute. Which means there is no screaming from Katya when McClane shoots a wire that catches in the helicopter blades and sends it plummeting. In honor of Katya’s death and her inability to make a fuss about it, we suggest the alternate movie title A Long Die Hard’s Journey Into Night.


Live Free or Die Hard

Chinese cyber-terrorist (read: hacker) Mai Linh (Maggie Q), also dies because of a vehicular fire, at the end of the fourth movie. (It makes you glad to take the subway.) But this time, McClane almost goes down as well, when the SUV he uses to run Linh down falls into an elevator shaft and dangles there. After a struggle, and some sexual tension, McClane knocks Linh out cold and high-tails it just in time. The SUV falls to the bottom of the elevator shaft and–of course–explodes. For something so Boston-bleak, and set on the Eastern Seabord, an accent’s required. New title? Pahk the Cah and Die Hahd.

Some Killer Titles That Ain’t Dead Yet

Foreigners, watch out for a baldy like this

Who’s going to die this time? We couldn’t tell you. But odds are on an explosion, and that whoever dies will not be American; none of the main villains have been yet. That way, Bruce Willis/John McClane/America wins every time, hard questions unasked. But we’re not that cold-blooded. Although writers are supposed to kill their darlings or something, we couldn’t resist listing a few of the titles that we didn’t get to use:

A Good Man Is Die Hard to Find
Everything That Dies Hard Must Converge
Hard Death and the Maiden
Rage, Rage, Against the Hard Dying of the Light
Dyin’ Hard, Hardly Dyin’
A Hard Death Comes for the Archbishop
As I Lay Dying Hard
A Lesson Before Dying Hard
James Joyce’s The Hard Dead