In recent years, cinematic franchises and premium TV series have become extremely popular. Lord of the Rings and subsequently The Hobbit series, Twilight, The Hunger Games, coupled with Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and Dexter are just a few of the recent success stories. Prior to their success on the silver screen or on the small screen, these series had their basis in literature. Many were popular book series, some were relatively unknown novels and the Walking Dead is actually based a graphic novel series.
Knowing that these series and countless others have been born out of literature, it got me wondering where the ideas for some of my favorite movie franchises of the past came from. Case in point: The Die Hard franchise. Surfing across the interwebs, I came across this article discussing the origins of the films:
A lot of what is mentioned here we already knew:
- Die Hard is based on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever
- Die Hard 2: Die Harder is based on the novel 58 Minutes
- Die Hard with a Vegeance is based on a script entitled Simon Says
- Live Free or Die Hard is loosely derived from the Wired article A Farewell to Arms
But the article goes further:
The plot to Die Hard 2: Die Harder, almost became a second vehicle for Frank Sinatra, who starred in The Detective. It was based on a novel by Walter Wager, the sequel to which was a little book called 58 Minutes. Had this film not fallen through, it's possible Die Hard 2 never gets made.
The article also mentions that for Die Hard with a Vengeance, another script called Troubleshooter was considered involving terrorists on a Caribbean cruise ship. The idea was apparently jettisoned due to the forthcoming release of Under Siege, but the script was later updated into another action film, Speed 2: Cruise Control. This film as you may recall, was a rather poor effort and marked the end of an otherwise promising series. That series could have been Die Hard. Furthermore, Simon Says was originally to be another installment of the Lethal Weapon series. If you think about it, Carver and McClane have a very Murtaugh and Riggs feel to them.
Live Free or Die Hard, eventually was developed from a script for WW3.com which was based on the aforementioned A Farewell to Arms. However, other potential plots took place in Japan involving McClane's son working for the Nakatomi Corporation while a second "would have seen McClane and his daughter fighting shipwreck looters," in the Caribbean.
A Good Day to Die Hard, according to the ONTD article, is the first film in the franchise, for which a script was developed independently from any other original source. This seemed somewhat remarkable to me because this film is pretty universally regarded as the worst in the franchise. Think about that. Presumably the worst of the five films was the most original concept of the series.
The article delves deeper still, and it's worth reading, but a recent blogpost about Die Hard 5 "not being all that bad," got me thinking. This is a long-running franchise and it has taken a different path than many others. Nearly all of the source material is unique, some good and some not so good. While It is interesting to think about what could have been, and no doubt, the results have been mixed, given the alternatives, I'd argue that this franchise and this character continuing to thrive has been the most important thing. I'm excited to see what the franchise has in store for us next with Die Hard 6, but I'm not all that worried. It seems we are in good hands.
Yippee Ki Yay My Friends!