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Die Hard prequel: Who should play young John McClane?

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Everett Collection

The Die Hard reboot was always an inevitability. 2013’s A Good Day to Die Hard grossed a measly $67 domestically but minted over $300 globally. In financial terms, that means people still care about Die Hard… even if no one seemed to like the franchise’s general creative direction. So, of course the next logical step would be a reboot. But yesterday came news that Die Hard 6 will go backwards, prequelizing John McClane and even giving him an origin story.

Willis was 33 when the original Die Hard came out. Is the studio looking for a twentysomething John McClane, fresh out of the academy and perpetually caught up in circumstances beyond his control? This is about the moment when we ask ourselves if Garrett Hedlund is available. Between TRON: Legacy and Pan, Hedlund has two non-starting franchises under his belt. But maybe Hedlund just needs an action showcase that’s a little more down to earth. On the same front, Taylor Kitsch had a couple of unsteady blockbuster showings a few years ago — the calamitous John Carter and the actually-worse Battleship — but he was one of the best things about True Detective 2, and his redemption narrative would give added poignance to Die Hard‘s usual David-vs-Goliath narrative structure.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has always been game to take on a big franchise role — Not-Robin in The Dark Knight Rises, Freaking Cobra Commander in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra — and he even played a younger version of Willis in Looper. (Willis may still be involved with Die Hard: Year Zero, implying the movie could cut between the present day and Young John on a case.) And I’m a big fan of the Captain America movies, but the reason I think Chris Evans could work as McClane is Snowpiercer. Evans played the plucky leader of a revolution, fighting a new battle in every traincar. It’s basically what McClane does in every movie — Die Hard on a dystopia-train.

If the prequel wanted to put a different spin on the McClane mythos, maybe now is the moment to give Michael Pena his own wisecracking action series. Pena has just recently been the best thing about Ant-Man and The Martian, and he would bring the whole McClane idea back down to Earth. Or maybe John Boyega, who played a street-level alien-buster in Attack the Block. And we have to talk Hemsworths… because wouldn’t third Hemsworth brother Luke be perfect for the role?

Who would you cast as young John McClane?

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