This feature was originally published on July 15, 2013.
In the ‘80s and ‘90s, the action genre reigned supreme above everything else at the box office, including good taste. From mercenary soldiers to vigilantes and terminators, a new testosterone-fueled tough guy appeared on the big screen wach month with an axe to grind against evil. But in an ironic twist, the most iconic celluloid hero of this period didn’t have the rippling muscles, square-jawed good looks, or even the full head of hair of his contemporaries. Instead, the biggest badass of the genre was none other than John McClane, a jaded NYPD officer played to perfection by Bruce Willis in the hit 1988 flick, Die Hard.
McClane wasn’t a foreign street fighter like Jean-Claude Van Damme, a world-class bodybuilder like Arnold Schwarzenegger, or a heap of twitching muscle like Sylvester Stallone. In a refreshing twist, he was just like the rest of us; he had problems with his wife and got his ass kicked by the villains. You weren't sure if he'd even make it to see the credits roll. This relatable hero made Die Hard rise above the typical action fare of the time and allowed it become a cinematic phenomenon.
The story was a simple one: the outgunned McClane is forced to fight his way—solo—through a cramped L.A. office high-rise that's been overrun with terrorists. He's the only guy in the inside capable of stopping them. He is the James Bond of Plainfield, New Jersey.
Once the movie shattered the box office in 1988, an endless supply of Die Hard clones hit theaters in an attempt to recreate the magic. Even the original spawned a series of sequels that never quite got it right. Now, on the 25th anniversary of its release, we’re taking a look back at 15 Movies That Copied the Die Hard Formula.