Submitted by SquatOnAPitbull t3_zzcf7k in movies

I was listening to a great podcast on movies (Diabolical) and they were analyzing Die Hard (an Xmas classic). A comment made was that Bruce Willis' performance was notable as it ushered in the everyman action star in a more plausible situation when compared to Arnold or Stallone.

Was that the appeal of Bruce Willis at the time? A kind of blue-collar funny guy who kick @$$?

I was young at the time and wonder about his legacy on movies as he's now retired due to illness.



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blackrabbitsrun t1_j2ase6i wrote

I wouldn't go that far. Die Hard was a rarity in that John McClane was an every day person. He wasn't some special forces, goes to the gym 6 times a week, knows 5 fighting styles and cooks too, kind of character like you see anymore. You had Murtagh in Lethal Weapon, and a few others but we have since migrated away from them. One other thing that set them apart from modern action stars is that they got FUCKED up. Most action movie characters get some soot on them, maybe a bleeding lip and some scrapes and scratches but that's about it. I always liked Die Hard because John got absolutely fucked but still kept going. I miss when action stars could get wrecked honestly. It felt more realistic and honestly made the characters more likable and you rooted for them more because you saw they weren't these impossible beings. I hope action gets back to that some day.


Shafe1975 t1_j2atcf5 wrote

I still cringe when he gets glass in his feet


Skirt_Thin t1_j2awn0z wrote

Interesting tidbit. They made special shoes that look like feet, so he could run through the glass without injury.


maggoty t1_j2df0v7 wrote

I thought the glass was the fake rubber stuff that looks real.


NinthConfiguration t1_j2auw4b wrote

Every time he takes his shoes and socks off to make fists with his toes I think "don't do it, you'll regret it!"


marblecannon512 t1_j2c25rg wrote

Fists wit yer toes


CxOrillion t1_j2dprqk wrote

Another thing: that whole fists with your toes thing was just invented as a plot device to get McClane to take off his shoes. But I've heard people actually reference it as a technique


CrazyStar_ t1_j2e4jq1 wrote

I've seen the film about at least eight times but only on my most recent re-watch (this Christmas) did I connect what the fella said on the plane to why he is running around shoeless lol.


waltdiesintheend t1_j2b1e39 wrote

My family will random shout “shoot the glass” at each other in our worst Alan Rickman voice. Just got a huge dose of it during the holidays lol.


ScipioCoriolanus t1_j2bbz2b wrote

Schiess dem Fenster...


Octavius-26 t1_j2bffvx wrote

SHOOT tha glassssss!


King_Buliwyf t1_j2djhhf wrote

Why did he clarify his order by speaking English to a fellow German?


Octavius-26 t1_j2dkkjn wrote

I have no idea… Karl seemed to have a WTF you talking about moment there…

Or Hans was just speaking shitty German…?


redsoxsteve9 t1_j2dl78j wrote

I just figured Hans was strategizing and didn’t want John to know what he was saying to Karl. Then he switched back to English out of frustration/let the audience in on it.


OzymandiasKoK t1_j2atzrb wrote

Glass? Who gives a shit about glass?


StepYaGameUp t1_j2aw2pn wrote



OzymandiasKoK t1_j2b0ijj wrote

No, it's a reference.


StepYaGameUp t1_j2b0pvx wrote

I know the line. I’ve seen the movie 100+ times.

When McClain delivers that line it’s foreshadowing to later in the film when HE has to care about glass. The glass blocking his way and in his foot.


OzymandiasKoK t1_j2b0yln wrote

I know the line. I’ve seen the movie 100+ times.

When I delivered that line, it was a reference to when that happened.


happylittletreehouse t1_j2au8rl wrote

This movie and Home Alone ( when Marv cuts his feet on the Christmas bulbs) always make me cringe.


FormerIceCreamEater t1_j2bvxtm wrote

Marv was the victim in those movies.


CheapLute t1_j2cu8s1 wrote

In the first one, sorta. He was still a thieving shit. In the second one, no. They were literally trying to kill Kevin, with Marv screaming at Harry to shoot him.


aladdyn2 t1_j2b7ikb wrote

Actually that's one aspect of No Country for Old Men that makes it great to me. Both hero and villains get injured and most battles have real consequences for them.

Unpopular opinion maybe but I think almost all the superhero movies are boring because of the lack of this. Let them get injured and killed off game of thrones style. Then just reboot with different actors once you kill enough off. Or even the same actors but a different universe or something.


TylerBourbon t1_j2b8a8h wrote

>Unpopular opinion maybe but I think almost all the superhero movies are boring because of the lack of this.

Completely agree with this. This is why the Daredevil season 1 hallway fight was so damn good. It was brutal, but you could see him getting hurt and getting tired. It made it believable. If they can't match that mentality when filming fights for the new DD series, it will be very disappointing.

I'm not so much on the "kill them off GoT" style but I would definitely love to see more shows have that "anything can actually happen" vibe that made GoT so engrossing. Characters lived and died based on their decisions, whether it was simply misplaced trust, or tactical errors.


blackrabbitsrun t1_j2bc5xv wrote

Right? I think DC is the biggest culprit of this so far with Marvel quickly moving in. You watch Captain America: Winter Soldier, Tobey McGuire's fight with the Green Goblin, and Tom Holland's first fight with the Green Goblin, they get fucked up. I would say Cap gets it the worst out of the 3, considering he gets shot too, but they all get absolutely thrashed to the point they're barely holding it together. Anymore though, I can't really think of a Marvel hero who got it even half as bad. Chadwick Bosman from Black Panther, but...nope nothing else comes to mind.


TylerBourbon t1_j2bepzw wrote

100% MCU was doing pretty decently with some of it's films from Iron Man 1 to Endgame. Characters got put through the ringer. And while I like the first 2 Nolan movies, the only one Batman even got hurt in was 3, but he it was more plot points to hurt him than just a by product of a brutal fight. At least with Pattinson's ending fight Batman nearly went down if it wasn't for what I suspect was venom but could have just been major steroids.

And Marvel is definitely moving away from realism it seems. Falcon and the Winter Soldier, did anyone even look tired after a fight, or like they broke a sweat? And Love and Thunder..... it was basically a Saturday Morning Cartoon when it came to Thor's fighting prowess, we were only missing him raising the hammer to the sky and yelling out that he had the power.

It's getting the point where it feels like the characters being tired or hurt is like a gun running out of ammo in an 80s action movie, only when the plot needs it to happen.


blackrabbitsrun t1_j2bfre4 wrote

Yep. I genuinely can't bring myself to watch Love and Thunder past the one time. Marvel doesn't need to go to extremes but damn I would like the people to actually be people. That's what Marvel marketed their heroes as in the first place. Hopefully they swing things back the other way but I'm not holding my breath for it.


jl_theprofessor t1_j2bm2a0 wrote

Man. Winter Soldier is still my favorite MCU movie.


blackrabbitsrun t1_j2bov2y wrote

It is awesome. I love it. Perfect blend of funny and serious with some good dark in there too. I was hoping that would be Marvel going forward but sadly....


IndyWineLady t1_j2bxfjc wrote

Sincerely, I screamed when Eddard Stark lost his head so early in.


notorious98 t1_j2c3rk7 wrote

Daredevil's real super power is that he can take an unbelievable ass kicking and keeping fighting.


jinxed_07 t1_j2dj52y wrote

I don't even think you need to kill off superheros, you just need to give them space to lose or get pyrrhic victories. All of Captain America's movies are great at this: Cap always gets a win (at least compared to the alternative playing out) but at a huge cost to himself or a large impact to the greater storyline.

If you know that the good guys are always gonna win with no serious consequences, then it makes you wonder why you should bother watching the same tropes play out over and over. I feel like a lot of the latest Marvel series/movies are suffering from this: not necessarily because the whole no consequences thing is new (because it's a valid criticism for some of the older marvel flicks) but because we're tired of it and we need a reason to watch something new.


invaluableimp t1_j2au0kj wrote

John Wick gets beat to shit in every movie


prima_facie2021 t1_j2awdfp wrote

Yes, but to OP's point, John Wick plays to type: in fact, one Russian guy once saw him kill a guy with a pencil. A pencil!


doktor-frequentist t1_j2b5e1p wrote

Who does that...?


blackrabbitsrun t1_j2bcpne wrote

A) John Wick is one of the aforementioned "impossible beings". B) I also stipulated "Most".


PonchoMysticism t1_j2bpzt0 wrote

John wick isn't more impossible than John McClaine. There are extensive videos about the dozens of times the homie should have died in that movie.


blackrabbitsrun t1_j2bqzee wrote

Show me where John McClain walks through a night club and bodies a dozen well trained body guards without a problem. Or where he does the same in catacombs, or where he straight up chews through entire groups of highly trained assassins with his bare hands/a pistol and maybe a sword or a knife.


FormerIceCreamEater t1_j2bwc09 wrote

John McClain basically became John wick by the 4th one


blackrabbitsrun t1_j2bxk7l wrote

I'm not denying that. His character fell into the tropes that I'm decrying. But that's not what is being talked about, and debated here. We are talking about the first movie and only the first movie. I'm comparing Die Hard 1 (one) 1988 to modern action movies where the character is always some current or former special forces or super trained fighter of some sort, chewing through enemies like a bandsaw through paper with minimal injury.


PonchoMysticism t1_j2c9nd9 wrote

He doesn't do either thing without "a problem" -- you have zero reason to believe they are well trained as there isn't any indication of their training. The club body guards are dummies and demonstrate that in the movie. That said I don't think something can be "more impossible" than something else. I'm pretty sure impossible is "binary."


blackrabbitsrun t1_j2cginm wrote

"zero reason to believe they are well trained"

Are you honestly putting forth the position, that one can't watch the tactical awareness, combat skills, hand/eye coordination, ability to plan and execute, not to mention pain tolerance and rationally infer that all that took decades of training to achieve? Or are you saying that anyone can do what John Wick does, with absolutely 0 training?


PonchoMysticism t1_j2cpx6s wrote

You have zero reason to believe that rando muscle within a Russia mob family has "elite training."

This is the less important aspect of my argument. John Wick is in some ways more realistic and some ways less realistic than Die Hard however they are both entirely impossible or at the very least incredibly unlikely. Arguing that a movie is "more impossible" is like arguing that a sandwich is "more perfect." It's an on/off switch its either true or untrue. A scale of impossibility is silly.


MrBojangoUnchained t1_j2cqyku wrote

I like John Wick but the action is highly stylised and over the top. He's basically Batman if he used guns.


jinxed_07 t1_j2djpfk wrote

I feel like John Wick goes too far in the other direction: I enjoy watching a guy that gets some injuries but keeps on through determination and sheer will, but past a certain point, the damage should be too much and they should have to take time to get medical care and a considerable amount of time to heal. I think the John Wick sequels would be much better off if a lot more time had passed during them to reflect this.

This isn't to say I don't enjoy the John Wick films, but they really do strain the suspension of disbelief.


KTR1988 t1_j2cojbx wrote

I honestly miss that about late 80s and early 90s action flicks. I was pretty characteristic of films of that era to end with the hero completely and utterly battered to within an inch of their life, limping away into the night or getting carried away on a stretcher. Made their victories seemed hard earned.


notorious98 t1_j2c3lwa wrote

Have you seen Nobody?


blackrabbitsrun t1_j2c4rop wrote

I have, decent movie. Still not John McClain. The guy in Nobody got fucked up because he held back. When he didn't, he tore through a Russian monster's organization like they were paper targets. Even handled being right up against a claymore fairly well. Was so frightening, people would rather bail without pay on a psychotic mob boss than be on his bad side.


cmmosher t1_j2arkzc wrote

He was actually cast against type. Before Die Hard he was know as a comedic romantic lead from Moonlighting. As for his appeal, for the time Willis was shluby everyman who literally fell into fighting terrorists.


[deleted] t1_j2brwl6 wrote



cmmosher t1_j2bt0q4 wrote

I don't disagree but the movie unfortunately didn't do anywhere near as well as Die Hard did.


fungobat t1_j2c7bjv wrote

Yep, definitely a cult classic but so good. And I would say Bennett from COMMANDO (1985) fits the character more (out of shape, chubby guy).


cmmosher t1_j2c7k74 wrote

Ya I rewatched Commando the other day and was surprised because I remembered him looking more muscular.


bop999 t1_j2c7igp wrote

Snake Pliskin was already an action hero.


SpektrumKid t1_j2ccu24 wrote

Well he was a boob the entire movie. And that’s the point. Kurt Russel’s character thinks he’s all that, but he keeps messing up.

Very different.


LoveEffective1349 t1_j2arh6d wrote

no. there was a ton of "everyman' action before Die Hard. Burt Reynolds for one.


theprophetquasimodo t1_j2ascvl wrote

An everyman more handsome than every man


LoveEffective1349 t1_j2at52c wrote

like Bruce Willis wasn't already a sex symbol ? He was already a "heart-Throb" because of moonlighting.


theprophetquasimodo t1_j2atrf9 wrote

Interesting. What set it apart for me was the beautiful head and body of hair.

Sexy-off: Willis v Reynolds. Two titans of the hunk industry, this needs to be settled.


TylerBourbon t1_j2b8mzc wrote

Interestingly though, that wasn't a boon in his cap at the time. He was a "heart-throb" sure, but it was for a comedic tv role in a comedy drama show. Not exactly a role that screams action movie star, so there was actual concern by many at the time about whether or not people would go see him in a movie.


FormerIceCreamEater t1_j2bwm1w wrote

He isn't naturally attractive. If Willis walked into a room and wasn't famous, people wouldn't say he was a handsome man. If burt Reynolds did, people would say that


bravetailor t1_j2e2mb3 wrote

That's why I'd put Hackman above everyone else as the quintessential everyman. Balding, not really good looking (but not ugly either), doesn't do martial arts or anything, a guy you might miss in a crowd but when you see him close up there's an underrated aura of strength to him.


MOOzikmktr t1_j2ax397 wrote

I would also suggest Charles Bronson and Gene Hackman. I don't really feel like people perceived Bruce as an "everyman" based on his looks and his prior work in TV. He was only written as a hard working cop from New Yawk.


Automatic_Randomizer t1_j2b6r39 wrote

I thought of Charles Bronson, and also Clint Eastwood. The "everyman" action star was done many times before Die Hard.


Equal-Temporary-1326 t1_j2bg2bz wrote

That was the key aspect of the film. The studio wanted Arnold or Stallone to star, but McTerinan wanted to do something different and cast an everyman to make it more realistic.


UnderstandingOdd679 t1_j2c0aeo wrote

I was going say Bronson as well. He was the Liam Neeson “Taken” dad 40 years before Liam.

Eastwood also played a regular cop in his Dirty Harry series after his Westerns.

John Wayne, I suppose, before that.


JC-Ice t1_j2emqb8 wrote

I wouldn't call them "everyman" types. They don't megamuscles, but they're presented as tough guys radiating an aura of deadly professionalism, unflappable under pressure.

You'd never see Clint Eastwood going, "Please God, don't let me die!" while clinging to the side of a building.


LazyJediTelekinetic t1_j2dltu7 wrote

Thanks! I came here to rattle off Bronson, Eastwood, and Hackman.

Also, Whoopi Goldberg in Burglar and Fatal Beauty.

Also Nolte and Murphy in the 48 Hours movies, Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop.

Really the action cop genre existed long before Die Hard. Willis just did a really good job believably taking out 15 heavily armed Euro thieves.


MOOzikmktr t1_j2dmj6m wrote

yeah - a NY beat cop who fights like a special forces commando. Totally an "every man" type and completely believable. lol

It was a great movie, but McTiernan spouting his "regular guy" claim is nothing but marketing.


series_hybrid t1_j2av8ie wrote

If you enjoyed "Die Hard", I think you might also enjoy "Three Days of the Condor" (1975).

Robert Redford plays an analyst who reads data and writes reports for the CIA. He has no super-spy training and has never done field work. Something goes horribly wrong.


blue_27 t1_j2bplq2 wrote

Condor was an interesting series.


Mekroval t1_j2cul15 wrote

Thanks for sharing that link. Looks a bit like Homeland meets Jack Ryan. Brendan Fraser in it too!


UncreditedExtra4 t1_j2c2gqy wrote

Maybe Redford's character didn't have field training, but he still had Robert Redford's seduction super powers. Most of us mortals wouldn't be able to kidnap a random woman and convince her within 24 hours to assist us in our espionage efforts.

Edit: That movie has one of my favorite all time closing credits. I love the way Redford slinks off into the crowd of Christmas carolers, and the picture freezes on Reford's worried face, the holiday music cuts out, to be replaced by the ominous, very 70s piano notes.


thisusedyet t1_j2bttnh wrote

Hell of a movie, also a hell of a book (although the book is 6 days of the condor).

Always really loved the ending of the movie. Not going to spoil it, go watch it :P


series_hybrid t1_j2dkp8k wrote

I was young when I first saw the ending, and it put a seed in my brain. Every time I saw something in the news, and then years later the CIA reluctantly admitted to something, the seed would grow a little more.


ken_NT t1_j2cxwp9 wrote

I always felt like Shooter with mark walhberg was the spiritual remake of this and you just made me realize why I liked Condor more


series_hybrid t1_j2dms26 wrote

I've always laughed at the trope of an infantry soldier who turns out to be a badass. I've met a LOT of infantry soldiers. Snipers however, are actually trained and go on exercises where they stalk and outmaneuver the enemy.

The snipers I've met (I am no sniper), were second enlistment guys with combat experience. They were mature and calm. They were wicked smaht. A good sniper is playing a chess game with the enemy. There are times when the task calls for a muscle-head, but not sniping.


shaft6969 t1_j2bvv5o wrote


Charles Bronson did it in the 70s with Death Wish, and many others. Tough but regular guy.

80's came and Arnold and Stallone brought huge physiques and special training as the prototype action stars.

But we still had Beverly Hills Cop and other comedic action movies with regular guys.

Honestly, everyone makes too much of it and Bruce. It was funny and entertaining. A good heist movie.

Alan Rickman is the main reason it took off and kept flying.


oldnick40 t1_j2bz0uj wrote

Bronson was a tough guy from the 60s on with Dirty Dozen


Shir0Hagen t1_j2eyn0y wrote

I don't know if Axel Foley was just "a regular guy". What about his super-human ability to dodge bullets by turning his back on the shooter whilst crouching?


dilldoeorg t1_j2arlkj wrote

I would argue that Harrison Ford was with Indian Jones


thisgrantstomb t1_j2c8w56 wrote

It's hard to say so because he's Harrison Ford there's a certain amount of status he naturally brings. But he does get the shit kicked out of him and is constantly improvising his way out of sticky situations.


PotterAndPitties t1_j2at0s8 wrote

Yes. Audiences laughed at the previews.


cmmosher t1_j2atwuf wrote

I got the impression that people just didn't see David Addison from Moonlighting as an action star.


StringNo5928 t1_j2ax2i5 wrote

Charles Bronson in Death Wish predates him. I feel like the “everyman” thing came out of the 1970s.


miketheriley t1_j2bfunr wrote

Cary Grant - North.By.Northwest?

Probably some westerns?

Three Days Of The Condor 1975


Only_Self_5209 t1_j2cz4wp wrote

Id agree Cary Grant in NbN, everyday guy thrown into the middle of some big conspiracy with spies everywhere out to get him.


efs120 t1_j2ddqhf wrote

Three days of the condor isn’t an action movie.


Enchelion t1_j2bgfc5 wrote

While more noir than action, Bullitt has some of the same elements. Frank is supposed to be just a jaded average middle-aged cop, apparently described in production as "eats a lot of ice cream and never solves a case". Though obviously casting Steve McQueen upped the attractiveness level he's still pretty grounded compared to the roided-out 80's action stars OP is comparing to.

Die Hard was in some ways more of a return to form from Stallone and Arnold.


Fomentor t1_j2ay0pf wrote

No, that would be Gary Cooper to Jimmy Stewart. Maybe someone even earlier.


Lmnolmnop t1_j2bs09k wrote

I'll die on this hill, Die Hard is the greatest Action Movie of all time, and it's not even bc of the action. It's because of the bantering, the dialogue, and even the cursing. It's all so perfect, even more so when ad-libbed. Nothing forced. Incredible.

It'll never be beat, either.

Walkie Talkie Die Hard, Motherfucker!!!


Holinyx t1_j2d60gi wrote

Hard to ignore Raiders of the Lost Ark. Dude was a school teacher trying to sell stuff to museums


aid8m t1_j2fbrx5 wrote

I was looking for this. Harrison Ford was another action start who didn't mind his characters getting their asses kicked from time to time.


NewResponsibility163 t1_j2b84gk wrote

Not a U.S. action star initially. But Jacky Chan kind of always played scenes that constantly have him taking a beating to a comedic degree. And escaping the situation, not always winning, just escaping.

He shows pain shows some ineptitude, but maybe it's a different category?


Enchelion t1_j2bgukb wrote

Jackie's style (both in fight choreography and film-making) was a deliberate subversion of Bruce Lee's film style. He's talked a lot about how he was getting typecast into that mold but decided to flip everything in order to stand out.


Bmanzhead64 t1_j2dccql wrote

No that actually didn’t happen until Jennifer Lawrence came along


xXxHondoxXx t1_j2bfvzc wrote

Clint Eastwood did it first.


Decabet t1_j2bnlte wrote

So I was 13 when Die Hard came out and being that age in the 80s raised on cable and VHS rentals put it square in my wheelhouse. But by summer 88 the idea of the One Man Army action star felt beyond stale.
It was just a tired idea. And while I was a big Moonlighting fan and liked Willis it just didn’t seem like a very original idea. Had little to no interest in seeing it.
But then it became a surprise late summer hit. Yes it came out mid-July but it was the definition of a word of mouth sleeper. It gained steam in august and that’s when it really opened up. In fact what I remember thinking at the time was that I learned that a plot concept doesn’t need to be totally original if all the components are well-made.
The “Everyman” thing only ever half landed for me since even at the time Bruce was a buff action star looking guy, if not a Sly or Arnold. And of course the franchise eventually wasted that goodwill turning him into an indestructible farce. Fortunately you can still enjoy the OG entry and not have to think about where it all went from there


osunightfall t1_j2btfux wrote

I would say yes. John McClane was different than the action heroes of the time. He was buff but he was a normal cop who was good at thinking on his feet and improvising. He took a lot of wounds over the course of the movie, and apparently some audiences thought he would die at the end. I think the scene where he's dragging his bloody feet across the floor really exemplifies this difference. In the following scene, he is hurt and tired and starts thinking that maybe he won't make it out alive. It was a very different tone than contemporary action films.


IndyWineLady t1_j2bxpl0 wrote

No to OP. Cowboys and cops have been the Everyman action hero since films and television each began.


AloneCan9661 t1_j2calc5 wrote

I'd say he definitely helped usher in the modern everyman. McClane was definitely an everyman from Die Hard 1-3....then...yeah Bruce Willis took over.


SnoopDing0 t1_j2ccofv wrote

Die Hard was Rupert Murdoch's big entry splash after buying 21 st century Fox. His other big shake ups were Married with Children and the The Simpson's, which ushered in the modern TV era.


bobatsfight t1_j2crdis wrote

You all forgetting They Live? You all forgetting how two regular dudes in an alley can fight for five and a half minutes about sunglasses?


LukeKellysLoveChild t1_j2aun4x wrote

An 'everyman' as I understand it means some kind of guy who's just a typical regular guy, could be anyone. I always thought Bruce Willis was normally some jacked beast of a man who can take down waves of international criminals normally hailing from somewhere like Russian with a teaspoon


cmmosher t1_j2aw209 wrote

It's a relative thing. For most of the 80's Arnie and Stallone were the big budget action heroes. Willis was best known for Moonlighting. The big action hero persona Willis has came about because of Die Hard. John McLane first kill in the movie was an accident.


drelos t1_j2b971k wrote

>John McLane first kill in the movie was an accident.

I always pay attention to the stunt guys in this movie, that guy got blasted against every wall in the Nakatomi, McClane has zero easy fight in the first movie.


cmmosher t1_j2bgz0c wrote

Not saying it was easy but I he first baddy to die happened after they fell down a flight of stairs and the badfu broke his neck. John was just trying to survive not kill him.


LukeKellysLoveChild t1_j2awqdg wrote

Even in the context of film I don't think this is what you call an everyman. It's definitely not in literature and theatre. I would have heard the term first studying literature. I didn't finish my degree thoughso take what I say with a pinch of salt


cmmosher t1_j2ay7vv wrote

Like I said it's more of a relative thing for the time and genre. There was some negativity because Willis was not seen as a super tough guy not even like earlier action stars like Steve McQueen. He was also typecast as a goofy guy. He certainly is not an everyman by reality's standards but action movies aren't reality. The decade started with Harrison Ford as the big action hero but bulky muscle men replaced that ideal. Willis was probably more of a return to form.


UntidyBargain t1_j2ay9p8 wrote

It was a weird to me, a kid at the time, as I loved Moonlighting (not that I got all the jokes) seeing David Addison shooting people. He’s still a cop in the movie so not quite an “everyman” but very capable.

North by Northwest has more like an “everyman” (even though Cary Grant is a big star) because he don’t know how to do shit.


jhudilluminati t1_j2b0q3u wrote

I’ve certainly lusted after his rear end many a lonely night…and I’m a straight male! 🥰


Howtobefreaky t1_j2biv8q wrote

Maybe not the first but Death Wish certainly predates it.

My criteria for this question: characters that aren't cops, characters that aren't in a Hitchock movie (North by Northwest isn't a typical or even prototypical action movie), no cowboys (since these are by definition not modern day "every man")

The funny thing about Death Wish is that Willis ended up starring in the remake that I heard was very bad.


FormerIceCreamEater t1_j2bxdo3 wrote

So die hard wasn't about an everyman since he was a cop


Howtobefreaky t1_j2c2x9s wrote

I mean tbh yeah but at least in that movie he was off duty so it still has the same feel of a guy trapped in and adapting to circumstances beyond his control


22marks t1_j2bjch0 wrote

What do you consider modern? The "Hero's Journey" coined by Joseph Campbell in 1949 speaks of: "A hero ventures forth from the world of common day."

In the call to adventure: "the hero or protagonist lives in the ordinary world." And this wasn't invented by Campbell. He was the one to break it down, but it can be traced back to mythology.

An "everyman" becoming a hero is about as classic a plot as you can get. Luke was an everyman moisture farmer. There are many other examples in this thread.

Even if you want to narrow it down to real-world plausible situations, there are plenty of action movies where "everyman" characters have to be heroic. Personally, I'd give Indiana Jones the nod before John McClane. After all, McClane isn't truly an everyman. He's a trained police officer who may be off duty, but it's basically his job. Indiana Jones is a professor with realistic flaws ("I don't know. I'm making this up as I go.") who ends up fighting Nazis.

It just makes sense that the protagonist who we're rooting for is kinda like us. It makes us wonder what we'd do in a similar situation. It makes us like the main character more.


Unlikely_Layer_2268 t1_j2bl3cz wrote

An Everyman caught in extraordinary circumstances is a trope as old as Dog Day Afternoon


Emeraldbreaker t1_j2bn5hw wrote

Most people would consider that is the point the “Every man hero”. I like to think it was Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry series.


BenT_17 t1_j2bnoh7 wrote

Die Hard was the most influential film in ushering in the every-man action hero, but the Indiana Jones trilogy came first. What separates John McClain from the other every-man action heroes that came before him such as Indiana Jones is that John McClain was involved in the action by coincidence, where Indiana Jones actively perused action by chasing treasures.


scrubjays t1_j2bph5r wrote

I think Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China is an earlier example, in it he is a truck driver.


FrameworkisDigimon t1_j2bqays wrote

Was he the first non-canonical action hero? By which I mean was he the first action hero who didn't look like the image "action hero" and/or movie star conjured up? I've certainly heard that thesis before.


Immediate_Pizza_3900 t1_j2bu236 wrote

I would have to agree. Their progenitors Stallone and Arnie had action figure physiques. John McClean walked so Bryan Mills (Taken) and John Creasy (Man On Fire) could run.


motociclista t1_j2c07gp wrote

I’m old enough to remember when Die Hard came out in theaters. It was nuts. Bruce Willis was a goofy funny guy from Moonlighting. He wasn’t a massive action star like Arnold or Sly or a martial arts guy like Bruce Lee. He was just a regular dude and people saw the trailers and were like… what? But it kind of prepared us for a few years later when they said Michael Keaton was going to be Batman.


thisgrantstomb t1_j2c8mez wrote

There are lots of examples of the every man action hero (low status action hero) the thing I think that sets Die Hard apart is how much of a wise cracking smart ass he was.


Capital-Bunch3769 t1_j2cbd8t wrote

Absolutely. Netflix has a solid episode of their “behind your favorite movie” anthology or whatever the show is called that focuses on die hard. Willis was like their last choice and casting him was a huge risk. They were so concerned men wouldn’t believe him to be a hero as opposed to a tv rom com star, they removed him from the posters and other promotional materials.

And for anyone throwing out Bronson in death wish or Eastwood in westerns, we need to consider context. Bronson killing a bunch of street thugs at his leisure isn’t the same as Willis taking down a terrorist organization without weapons or shoes. And to your point OP, Eastwood was a certified badass back then. An ‘Everyman’ wouldn’t be an Everyman if every man was just as capable as every other man (I don’t even know if that makes sense). Eastwood wasn’t an Everyman in those flicks, he was generally the baddest dude around. Swap him out for Schwarzenegger and I don’t know that Arnold is more intimidating on a horse with a poncho and a pistol.

In terms of him being a cop, he’s been on the force for just 7 years and is afraid of flying. He’s not a navy seal. I mean carl Winslow is far more seasoned and about to retire, but he’s not shimmying through an air duct.

Fun fact: the first choice for john McClane was frank Sinatra as he played the character in the movie’s “prequel”


hogua t1_j2dhenu wrote

Fun fact: the first choice for john McClane was frank Sinatra as he played the character in the movie’s “prequel”

He was the first choice only due to contractual obligation. Sinatra was in The Detective and Die Hard is based on a novel that was the sequel to The Detective. At the time he was offered the role in Die Hard, Sinatra was 70 years old, and, as expected by the studio, he declined the role.

Others who were offer the role included:

Sylvester Stallone, Richard Gere, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Burt Reynolds, Nick Nolte, Mel Gibson, Don Johnson, Richard Dean Anderson, Paul Newman, James Caan, and Al Pacino.

When the role was finally offer to Bruce Willis, he had to decile due to contractual obligations to continue filming Moonlighting. That changed when Cybil Shepard s pregnancy cause Moonlighting to go on an 11 week hiatus. Willis was then able to film Die Hard during that hiatus.


GetBAK1 t1_j2ceuzy wrote

Nah - there were lots of anti-hero's in the 70's. Vanishing Point comes to mind


luckystrike_bh t1_j2cpfah wrote

Part of it for me is his characters actually get beat up in movies.


hockeyballcal t1_j2cu2ur wrote

Gene Hackman in Poseidon Adventure. Roy Scheider in Jaws.


BroForceOne t1_j2d3mhh wrote

I think that's a flawed analysis. Action stars like Arnold and Stallone stood out because they were the exception, not the norm. Almost every other action movie had an everyman star.


cynic74 t1_j2dfta2 wrote

Yes, definitely that was the appeal. An everyman going up bad guys instead of buffed out Arnolds and Stallones. If I recall I think he made big money for it back then because he was coming off the hit tv show Moonlighting but the studio was unsure about having a comedy guy be an action hero. You should check out the really good making of it on the Netflix show "The Movies That Made Us" Die Hard episode and there is also a cool book out about the making of all the films.


MaximusJCat t1_j2dltm2 wrote

You should watch “The Movies That Made Us” on Netflix. There’s a whole episode for Die Hard.


AgentFlatweed t1_j2dm3o5 wrote

He was actually kind of a throwback to the Bogart, Ralph Meeker type 50’s leading man, where he’s kind of a working class mug. But that was perfect for John McClane.


blue_pen_ink t1_j2e2p7k wrote

The Die Hard episode of the movies that made us discusses this point also


PussyMassage t1_j2e5s6y wrote

Don't believe anybody but me here - Die Hard was so unlike every previous action movie in its intensity, fun, and spectacle that seeing it was like seeing your very first action movie. And action movies were practically our entire movie diet at the time. I saw it in the early weeks of its release in a packed theater, and the audience erupted in rapturous applause at its end. I have never experienced that before or since.


Joseluki t1_j2e9ow2 wrote

He spends half the movie shoeless, then walks over glass, and gets some shoes 3 sizes smaller than his. Also has a wild sense of humor to deal with the amount of shit thrown at him.


DrEnter t1_j2epdup wrote

  1. He was not really an “everyman”, he’s a New York police detective.

  2. The earliest I can think of an “everyman” being put into an action movie is Cary Grant in North By Northwest, but there are probably earlier examples.


DeadFyre t1_j2eumhn wrote

No, the everyman action hero predates the roid-machines by decades.


jayboy716 t1_j2b8cmf wrote

Rambo first blood, 48 hours, Terminator


The_Last_Mouse t1_j2bk2o6 wrote

You’re getting pushback. The answer is yes, but people forget about Moonlighting.


The_Last_Mouse t1_j2bk8f1 wrote

Modern. And Everyman. not just “who historically has filled this role.” May as well say a thousand iterations of Django at that point.


princesamurai45 t1_j2bmv1y wrote

I would say Clint Eastwood. He is the first Everyman tough guy I remember seeing. You could also say Paul Newman, but he is widely regarded as a very handsome man in his prime. Might take him out of the Everyman category.


StormShadow743 t1_j2boh2k wrote

Netflix has documentaries about old movies and it’s pretty much what they allude to.

Casting Bruce Willis was literally a big risk because he didn’t fit the mold of ridiculous bodybuilding action stars.


doctorinkinson t1_j2bzw29 wrote

Anyone writing that title knows the answer as yes.


Nanooc523 t1_j2cl8yd wrote

No, Rambo First Blood was. Then Red Dawn, Then Dudikoff in American Ninja. Die Hard was second wave action movie.


LINDMATT t1_j2d4g01 wrote

I feel like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold paved the way for Bruce


matlawish t1_j2e2alb wrote


Arnie or Stalone