The "Die Hard" franchise is one of the best action movies in the history of the genre. John McClane is arguably one of the toughest bad-asses to ever grace a movie screen; he's an everyman. Guys worldwide can relate to the guy, but action movies aren't built on the hero alone. An action flick can only be as good as its villians. That's right, with no Hans Gruber, there is no John McClane, period. This means that the writers, the producers and the guys behind the scenes put a lot of time in making John McClane such a tooth chipper and spend an equal amount of time creating foes to challenge him. It's no secret that the tough New York cop has mowed down his fair share of criminals, but these bad guys are the best of the best "Die Hard" villians.
Played by Alan Rickman, Gruber is the criminal mastermind behind the plot to rob the Nakatomi building blind. A real smooth talking, well-dressed, high class European cat, he's the perfect foil for a trash talking, scruffy, hard-nosed cop from New York. McClane and Gruber play a deadly game of cat and mouse in a Los Angeles highrise office building. The great part about the John McClane-Hans Gruber relationship is the audience can't really tell who's the cat and who's the scurrying rodent. That is, of course, till Gruber does a nose dive out of a window.
Hans's right-hand man turns out to be more than a formidable foe for John McClane. Angry over his brother's death, Karl stalks the cop throughout the movie. In a climactic scene, Karl beats McClane to a pulp (quick thinking and luck are the only reason McClane survived for three sequels). Then Karl shows up for one final dance and is ultimately gunned down by an out of shape desk jockey of a Los Angeles. cop. Survival is not an option for a "Die Hard" villian. On a funny note, Alexander Godunov, the famous dancer, plays Karl. Who would have thought a dancer could be so menacing?
The sibling of deceased Hans Gruber (played by Jeremy Irons) stalks John McClane in his native New York. He forces the wearied cop to run around the city defusing bombs while planning a heist of the Federal Reserve Bank. He came closest out of all of McClane's enemies to succeeding, but, alas, a lucky shot from a revolver torches Simon's getaway helicopter. So sad.
He's a snake more than anything else, but as it turns out, being shady is a good characteristic for a villian to have. This guy literally sits back, let's McClane do all the fighting with some other guy (while pretending to have McClane's back), then jumps a plane with the main antagonist. McClane doesn't like to lose. The battered good guy finds a way to blow up the plane with Major Grant and all of his stoolies in it. John Amos of "Good Times" fame plays this snake of an enemy.
A tech geek-turned-terrorist, Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) gives John McClane much more than a handful of problems—he's figures out a way to control the country's entire infrastructure. The banks? He's got them. He controls the traffic. He even controls the Internet. The guy's pretty bad-ass. The problem is, good old John McClane isn't impressed with a techno-terrorist. Gabriel tries to kill McClane multiple times, but once McClane gets a hold of him, Gabriel is short work.