December 25, 1988
Heckler & Koch P7M13 semi-automatic pistol
West German Volksfrei movement
|Behind the scenes|
Die Hard with a Vengeance (flashback)
Killed by fall caused by John McClane
- "When you steal $600, you can just disappear. When you steal $600 million, they will find you unless they think you're already dead."
- ―Hans Gruber to John McClane [src]
Hans Gruber was an internationally feared German terrorist who was the younger brother of Simon Gruber and the main antagonist of Die Hard. He was the mastermind behind the Nakatomi Plaza heist, where he used a gang of heavily armed terrorists to take over the company Christmas Party and attempt to steal $640 million in negotiable bearer bank bonds inside the building's vault. Hans disguised this as a terrorist incident to distract the police from their robbery. Hans met his end after underestimating the courage of one, John McClane, who, despite being outmanned 13 to 1, managed to save the hostages of Nakatomi. Hans was also the brother of Simon Gruber and was likely disliked by him, as Hans worked with the West German Volksfrei movement, while Simon was an "obscure colonel from the East German army".
It is implied that Hans is far more dangerous than more people let on. He was most likely expelled from the Volksfrei movement for being too extremist and although he always maintained his calm persona, had absolutely no problem with killing innocent people and would do so if necessary. Hans, although not sadistic, had a previous history of terrorism affiliations, and although he didn't appear to be a killer upon his first glance, he is extremely rude, cold and unpredictable; far more so than any of the other terrorists in the film series, possibly with the exception of Colonel Stuart.
Hans Gruber was John McClane's worst threat he had ever encountered, according to McClane.
Before the Nakatomi HeistEdit
- "Due to the Nakatomi corporation's legacy of greed around the globe, they're about to be taught a lesson in the real use of power...you will be witnesses."
- ―Hans Gruber maintaining his façade of a freedom fighter. [src]
Not much is known about Hans's early life except that he enjoyed making models in his youth and in later life was a member of the radical West German Volksfrei movement. However, Gruber was later expelled from the movement, presumably for his overly-violent and extreme methods of getting things done. Gruber later used his past affiliation with the movement as a means to further fuel his ruse of a terrorist takeover, though the movement denied any association with the events at Nakatomi. Gruber presumably still maintained these cold war era extremist viewpoints only abandoning them in favor of capitalist spoils.
Arrival at Nakatomi PlazaEdit
As mentioned before, Gruber was originally a member of the German terrorist organization the Volksfrei movement, until he was expelled. Now only concerned with personal gain, he concocted an elaborate robbery scheme using a terrorist pretense as a cover to manipulate the authorities with his plan. He led his gang of 13 thieves to Los Angeles, California on Christmas Eve where a party of employees was being held to take control of the Nakatomi Plaza. Although protected by several code based lock mechanisms, Hans and his team were after the $640 million in negotiable Bearer Bonds that were being held in a high-security vault. In addition to the first five locks, the vault was protected by one last lock which was electromagnetically sealed, and could only be opened by a complete loss of power to the building, which Hans had also planned for. The prior is the main reason Hans had made the situation look like a terrorist plot rather than a straight robbery. If the authorities had known the team were after the contents of the vault, the power wouldn't have been cut, and the vault never would have been opened.
Most of the team arrived in a Pacific Courier truck, while Karl and Theo took out the Guards manning the main lobby. Theo then shut down all elevator motion from the 29th floor and down down using the security system as Hans locked the main enterance. Karl and Tony then proceeded to cut all phone lines in the building while Hans and the rest of the group arrived at the party on the elevator. Making their presence known through gunfire, the team gathered everyone up and took them as hostages, and Hans began his trickery, posing as a radical freedom-fighter by making a short speech about the Nakatomi corporation's legacy of greed around the globe. Gruber then used his knowledge of the president of Nakatomi trading, Joseph Takagi, in order to draw him out. Once he had Takagi, Hans led the businessman to a board room where he then made his true intentions known.
- "...I'm telling you, you're just going to have to kill me."
- ―Takagi [src]
- ―Hans casually blows Takagi's brains across the board room [src]
Still believing him to be a terrorist, Takagi continued to make assumptions about the purpose of the takeover to which Gruber impatiently told him to sit down. He then continued to question Takagi over the code. After repeatedly denying that he knew the code, Takagi bravely asserted that they were just going to have to kill him. Unfortunately, Hans agreed, and killed Takagi by a single shot to the head from his weapon of choice, a Heckler & Koch P7M13 semi-automatic pistol. After that Gruber ordered Theo, his technical expert, to break through the locks on the vault. Theo reminded Hans that the final lock is powered by circuits that cannot be cut locally. Gruber promised to handle the last lock.Hans was unaware, however, that observing them through the glass door from the outside was John McClane, who had slipped through the hands of the terrorists. McClane had stopped over at the tower to pick up his wife, Holly. After killing Karl's brother, Tony, Karl screams in anger and toss the office desk down, causing Hans to pushes him into the wall and tells him not to alter their plan. McClane used Tony's walkie-talkie to radio for help. This resulted in a cop car being sent over. The officer, Al Powell, did a quick check over, and left. McClane saw this and after having dispatched two more of the terrorists threw the body onto Powell's car. These were the first omens of the trouble to come.
- "Mrs. McClane. How nice to make your acquaintance."
- ―Hans discovers Holly's relation to John McClane. [src]
While acquiring a two-way radio, C4 explosives, and detonators from the body of one terrorist, McClane explained the situation via the two-way radio as the police, led by Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson, arrived. The police sent in a SWAT team and an armored vehicle. McClane and Powell aware unable to prevent the SWAT team from being ambushed, but McClane managed to kill the terrorists attacking the SWAT team. One of Holly's coworkers, Harry Ellis, tried to negotiate with Hans and McClane for the return of the detonators. McClane helplessly tells Ellis that Hans would kill him to which Gruber proves when Ellis fails. The FBI arrived, and took control from the police. They ordered the power to the building shut down, which deactivates the vault's final lock as Gruber had intended. Theo ransacks the now-open vault, loading the bearer bonds into an ambulance to be used as their getaway vehicle.McClane continued to sneak through the building to kill the terrorists. When he found Gruber working at the explosives planted on the roof, Gruber passed himself off as an escaped hostage. McClane appeared to let down his guard, and gave Gruber a gun; when Gruber attempted to fire the weapon, however, it is discovered that there were no bullets in the gun. As this happened, Gruber's men appeared from an elevator and fired at McClane, who was forced to flee, leaving behind the detonators. The roof was rigged to explode with the detonators, and Gruber lured the FBI into the trap by asking for helicopter transport for him and his men to Los Angeles International Airport in exchange for the hostages; Gruber planned to use the roof explosion to make the authorities believe him to be dead and allow him to escape with the bonds. As the helicopters travelled to the scene, Gruber observed a television news story from investigative reporter Richard Thornburg that Lucy mentions that Holly Gennero is McClane's wife. With the helicopter nearing with Special Agent Johnson and Agent Johnson on board, Gruber ordered the hostages to the roof, taking personal control over Holly.
- "Oh yes, what was it you said to me before? Yippee-ki-ay...motherfucker."
- ―Hans imitating John McClane before he tries to kill him [src]
AppearanceEditHans, on the night of the Nakatomi Christmas party, appeared a very well groomed man. He wore a black suit, a white shirt, a red tie, and black shoes. Due to his knowledge of Takagi's expensive suit, it is likely his own suit was quite expensive. He had brown, though slightly graying hair that was combed to the right. In the file photo used in the news broadcast, detailing the Nakatomi takeover, Hans did, however, have extremely messy hair and baggy, dirty clothes.
- "As far as I'm concerned, I'm not playing 'the villain'. I'm just playing somebody who wants certain things in life; has made certain choices, and goes after them. "
- ―Alan Rickman on Hans Gruber [src]
As shown when dealing with Holly, he also had a curt attitude to people whom he did not know.
Hans also has a good, but clearly dark sense of humor, and isn't afraid to make light of very dark and serious situations. This is furthered by his apparent jokey nature with Karl and Theo, two people he presumably knew well and liked. Even McClane often shot witty remarks back and forth either face to face or over the radio with Hans. The last thing Hans ever says, in fact, is a repetition of McClane's trademark phrase that he had jokingly coined over the radio earlier in the film.
An intelligent man, Hans liked to flaunt his knowledge and boast of his high education, as shown during his conversation with Takagi. Gruber was also knowledgeable about business and finance, and he was also able to determine what kind of high priced suit one was wearing just by looking at it (or perhaps he just had a penchant for John Philips suits in particular).
Due to his blatant disregard for human life, along with the unbelievable things he'd done for the sake of a robbery, John had no problem doing away with Hans. McClane likely feels that Gruber is one of the most disgusting beings he's ever met. Even in the third film, Hans' brother, Simon, concurs with McClane, saying in agreement that his brother was, indeed, an 'asshole'.
ImpactEditDue in no small part to Rickman's performance, the character of Hans Gruber has had an enduring popularity and is constantly voted as one of the top villains of all time. Due to this, Hans is often seen as John McClane's one true nemesis and the quintessential Die Hard villain, only seconded by his brother, Simon, in Die Hard with a Vengeance.
Due to his highly acclaimed and recognizable performance, Alan Rickman was often typecast as villains following this film. In recent years, Rickman has generally stayed away from playing straight villain roles, instead preferring more complex characters. For example, Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise (another role that has left a huge impact on Rickman's life).
Hans was still mentioned relatively often or at least referenced to in some way, in both Die Hard 2 and Die Hard with a Vengeance. He's even arguably referenced to whenever McClane says his 'yippie ki yay' line, as those words were the last words Hans had the chance to say before his death.
Hans Gruber is often voted as one of Alan Rickman's most popular roles. Other popular roles played by Rickman being the Sherriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood-Prince of Thieves, Severus Snape in Harry Potter, and Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd.
- "The following people are to be released from their captors: In Northern Ireland, the seven members of the New Provo Front. In Canada, the five imprisoned leaders of Liberte de Quebec. In Sri Lanka, the nine members of the Asian Dawn movement..."
- "I read about them in Time magazine."
- "What idiot put you in charge?"
- "Now I have a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho."
- "I wanted this to be professional. Efficient. Adult. Cooperative, not a lot to ask. Alas, your Mr. Takagi did not see it that way, so he won't be joining us for the rest of his life."
- "This can go any way you want it. You can walk out of here or be carried out. But have no illusions. We are in charge. So, decide now, each of you. And please remember: we have left nothing to chance."
- "I will count to three. There will not be a four."
- "Nice Suit. John Philips, London. I have two myself. Rumor has it Arafat buys his there too."
- "Karl ... Schieß dem Fenster ... Shoot the glass!"
- "Enough jokes!"
- "But, you have me at a loss. You know my name but who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child? Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he's John Wayne? Rambo? Marshal Dillon?"
- "You idiot. It's not the police. It's him."
- "Who said we were terrorists?"
- "It's Christmas, Theo. It's the time of miracles. So be of good cheer... and call me when you hit the last lock."
- "When they touch down, we'll blow the roof, they'll spend a month sifting through the rubble and by the time they figure out what went wrong—we'll be sitting on a beach... earning twenty percent."
- "You're very perceptive"
- "Eh, that's... very kind of you. I assume you are our mysterious party crasher. You are most troublesome, for a security guard."
- "That's a very nice suit, Mr. Takagi. It would be a shame to ruin it..."
- "I could talk about industrialization and men's fashion all day, but I'm afraid work must intrude."
- "And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept...for there were no more worlds to conquer. Benefits of a classical education."
- "Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?"
- "That's very kind of you. I assume you are our mysterious party crasher. You are most troublesome, for a security guard."
- "Still the cowboy, Mr. McClane! Well, this time John Wayne does not walk off into the sunset with Grace Kelly."
- "The roof! Go, go."
- "You hear that? Talk to me, where are my detonators? Where are they, or shall I shoot another one? Sooner or later, I might get to someone you do care about!"
- "Mr. Mystery Guest? Are you still there?"
- "The circuits that cannnot be cut are cut automatically in response to a terrorist incident. You ask for miracles. Theo, I give you the F...B...I."
- "Touching, Cowboy, touching. Or should I call you, Mr. McClane? Mr. Officer John McClane of the New York Police Department?"
- "When they touch down, we'll blow the roof, they'll spend a month sifting through rubble, and by the time they figure out what went wrong, we'll be sitting on a beach, earning twenty percent."
- "I am an exceptional thief Mrs. McClane and since I'm moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite."
- Hans is the only main villain to ever say John's catchphrase, which was also his last words ever before his death.
- It is also interesting to point out that unlike the other sequels, the catchphrase is said by the villain and then dies while in the other films John says his line then finishes off the villain (with the exception of Yuri Komarov).
- Similar to Die Hard with a Vengeance, Hans Gruber could be referenced again if Die Hardest is made.
|Die Hard Characters|
|John McClane - Holly Gennero - Lucy McClane - John McClane, Jr. - Al Powell - Richard Thornburg|
|Die Hard||Hans Gruber - Karl - Theo|
|Die Hard 2||Colonel Stuart - Leslie Barnes - General Ramon Esperanza - Carmine Lorenzo|
|Die Hard with a Vengeance||Simon Gruber - Zeus Carver - Katya|
|Live Free or Die Hard||Thomas Gabriel - Matt Farrell - Mai Linh - Warlock|
|A Good Day to Die Hard||Yuri Komarov - Irina Komarov - Viktor Chagarin - Alik - Mike Collins|