Die Hard series is a prime example of this: ‘studies in the film field pay specific attention to the Herculean physical performances and spectacular body appearances of starring characters’ (Carroll, 2003, p. 54). Although heroines play important roles in many successful films, most of these female characters are known only in relation to the male hero. This is in part due to male domination in our society. This paper will analyse the representation of masculinity in Die Hard 2. This analysis will incorporate a survey from the works of Mulvey (1975), Neale (1983) and Tasker (2004).
Die Hard 2 focuses on the story of a New York police officer, John McLane. The opening scene is set on Christmas Eve, when McLane visits his distant wife, who lives in Los Angeles (Gates 2006, p. 35). McLane has what Rzepka and Horsley (2010, p. 89) term as ‘unresolved issues’. It is because of these issues that McLane is not on good terms with his wife. Upon McLane’s arrival, he finds his separated wife at an office Christmas party; however, supposed political terrorists invade the building. The film then portrays the heroic acts of John McLane so that he can save his wife from the terrorists.
In Die Hard 2, as in many action movies, masculine characters are portrayed with virile physical prowess and social dominance. Another important aspect of masculine heroes is their excessive aggression. Prior studies concerning Hollywood’s presentation of male genres have characterised Die Hard 2 as a male-driven action movie, with the ‘presentation of the lead hero as a macho man’ (Milestone & Meyer 2012, p. 50). This is due to McLane’s spectacular ability to wrestle his enemies, which is a trait of the hero in male-driven films. In fact, Carroll (2003, p. 79) comments that the ‘physical masculinity of an action hero gives a preferential tone for the action narrative’. It should be noted that the audience accepts heroism fron male characters in filmst whil, female heroism