The Cinema Behind Star Wars: Die Hard

Yippee (ki-yay)! See how John McClane's Christmas misadventure inspired an Anakin-centric episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

1988’s Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman and directed by John McTiernan, is perhaps one of the greatest, but often forgotten, Christmas movies ever made. It’s thrilling and puts the hero through his paces. Willis stars as John McClane, an off-duty cop who finds himself in a hostage situation. His wife and a number of other executives are being held for ransom by the criminal mastermind Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman).

To add insult to injury, McClane isn’t even wearing shoes when the terrorist’s plan goes off, leaving him vulnerable in his effort to save the day.

I know you’re asking yourself, “What in the world could this possibly have to do with Star Wars?” But that tells me you may have forgotten a fantastic episode of The Clone Wars called Hostage Crisis.” Instead of the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles, the scene was set in the Senate building of Coruscant. The major players are Cad Bane (in his first on-screen appearance on The Clone Wars) as the terrorist leader, and Anakin Skywalker as John McClane.

Bane takes a group of Senators (including Anakin’s wife, Padmé!) hostage in the senate, leaving Anakin the only line of defense to save them. But, instead of his lack of shoes, Anakin has been robbed of his lightsaber, having handed it over to Padmé as a symbol of his love and dedication to her, so she can keep it safe during his down time.

Like John McClane in Die Hard, Anakin is forced to stay hidden and keep his wits about him to slowly infiltrate the hostage takers, keep his wife safe, and ultimately save the day.

Although Anakin isn’t able to completely foil Cad Bane’s plot, the episode certainly features many flourishes from Die Hard, from the cat and mouse action sequences to the explosions in the end.

Die Hard is a wonderful film, well-made, thrilling, and tightly paced. It holds up remarkably well for modern audiences as long as they can believe the technology restraints of communication that were present in the 1980s. Like most movies from the 1980s, though it’s rated R for over the top (and surprisingly realistic) violence, language, some drug use, and brief nudity, it’s the sort of movie that is almost tailor made for the sensibilities of tweens and teenagers. I watched it with my son and he was riveted by it, though we definitely had to have some conversations about the content afterward.

Bryan Young is an author, a filmmakerjournalist, and the editor in chief of! He’s also the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, Full of Sith.

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