Winning the Older Action Hero Contest: Does Bruce Willis Appeal More Than Stallone or Arnold?

Yahoo Contributor Network

America has once again thrown down the gauntlet and placed a movie at the top of the box office that many critics despise. Even if the thought is persisting that "A Good Day to Die Hard" isn't anywhere near being as iconic as previous "Die Hard" movies, Bruce Willis might have to bring some bragging rights in drawing crowds. Or is there really an older action hero contest going on that will determine the future of this emerging new film genre?

What we do know is that when older action stars team up in a movie, the result is much better than when they decide to split into solo efforts. "The Expendables" franchise is proof of how placing Willis, Stallone, and Schwarzenegger in a film together brings a sense of comfortable nostalgia to many. But when you see Schwarzenegger's "The Last Stand" bomb spectacularly and Stallone's "Bullet to the Head" do the same, there must be some double takes done at franchise titles.

Just the title "Die Hard" will conjure a flood of memorable movie moments that re-play in millions of moviegoer heads. The argument could be made that "A Good Day to Die Hard" hitting a box office bonanza was banking strictly on familiarity rather than Willis himself. Then again, Willis is one of the youngest of the current crop of older action stars vying for movie comebacks.

Out of all of them, he's also the only one who still looks like the smirking everyman rather than the pouting uncommon man who looks pumped on steroids. There may be an anachronistic studio thought going on that the ripped action hero is still a marketable part of the action movie universe. For audiences, that might mean not wanting to see stars well over 65 looking Herculean while much younger muscular action star Dwayne Johnson gives exception.

Regardless, Willis's John McClane is the action star from the perfect middle road: The everyman cop singlehandedly fighting against forces that look much larger than his body frame. Willis also had the advantage of having a personality that showed his wheels turning when uttering unintended funny dialogue. Stallone and Schwarzenegger don't always appear to be throwing a knowing wink to the camera when spouting quotable lines in their solo action efforts.

The above scenario was much less demonstrated in Stallone's "Bullet." But Schwarzenegger has evolved at forming his dialogue so it has a slightly more tongue in cheek delivery. Although it may be too little, too late for his solo movie career with the failure of "The Last Stand."

If the older action hero contest heats up with all aged ones starring in more "Expendables" sequels, is it still possible for Bruce Willis to emerge as the winner? No doubt his desire to make one more "Die Hard" movie will attain a green light now that "A Good Day" almost hit #1 at time of this article. Any irony behind the above may arise if a possible sequel uses the idea once considered for the current title.

According to reports, "A Good Day" was considered as a possible hybrid of the "Die Hard" franchise and "24", with Kiefer Sutherland reprising his Jack Bauer character. Eventually, the winner of the older action star in future movies may be a tie, unless a fight ensues among the elders and there truly is a last stand.

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