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Hans Gruber

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Evil-doer

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Full Name
Hans Gruber
Alias
Bill Clay
Origin
Die Hard (1988)
Occupation
Former member of the West German Terrorist Group; terrorist leader; thief
Powers / Skills
Intelligence; prepared to kill to achieve his goals; convincing liar
Hobby
Lying, killing, stealing
Goals
Steal $640 million from the Nakotomi Plaza vault; kill John McClane
Type of Villain
Terrorist


When you steal $600, you can just disappear. When you steal $600 million, they will find you unless they think you're already dead.
~ Hans Gruber to John McClane
 

Hans Gruber is the main antagonist in the 1988 action film Die Hard. He is a German terrorist who organizes the takeover of a Los Angeles skyscraper in an attempt to steal millions of dollars in bonds. Hans is portrayed as cold, calculating, arrogant, and highly intelligent.

He is portrayed by Alan Rickman, who is also known for his role as Severus Snape. Rickman's performance was so highly praised that the character is consistently included on lists of some of the greatest villains of all time.

Biography

Hans Gruber

Hans threatens Joseph Takagi

He was once part of a West German terrorist group, but was expelled from the group, presumably for being too radical. At the time the film takes place, Hans leads a group of heavily armed, well-funded mercenaries and organizes the takeover of a massive Los Angeles skyscraper that houses the offices of the Nakotomi Corporation. During this, they take over 30 employees hostage. When the FBI tries to negotiate, Hans orders the release of various terrorist leaders around the world and a couple helicopters on the building's roof. However, this is all an elaborate ruse to distract the police from the heist of $640 million in untraceable and negotiable bearer bonds that are kept in the building's vault.

Gruber takes advatage of the company's Christmas Eve party, when only a limited number of people are in the building. His men take out the limited group of security guards, seal off the building, and cut the phone lines. He then leads his men to the party upstairs and takes all the guests hostage except for NYPD cop John McClane, in town visiting his estranged wife Holly. John managed to make it to a stairwell and head upstairs into the unfinished portion of the building. Gruber talks to Head of International Trading, Joseph Takagi, and tries to coax the building's vault code out of him, but Takagi claims that he doesn't know the code and bravely asserts that they will just have to kill him. Gruber obliges this request and shoots Takagi in the head. John sees this and flees, realizing that the terrorists are hostile. In an attempt to get help, John pulls the fire alarm. Gruber tracks what floor this came off of and sends a terrrorist onto the floor to kill him.

Hans Gruber 2

Hans is caught off guard by John McClane

When McClane kills the terrorist, Gruber simply sends more men after him and proceeds with his master plan, which involved waiting for the FBI to cut the power, which would open the final magnetic lock on the vault. The hostages would then be sent up to the helipad on the roof, which would be blown up with C-4, confusing the feds and allowing the villains to escape in an ambulance. Although the charges had been put in place, McClane killed a henchman and took the detonators he had been carrying.

A cat-and-mouse game follows between McClane and Gruber, in which the two communicate through the use of walkie-talkies where they learn more about each other. Gruber found out who McClane was through the assistance of a Nakatomi executive who met McClane before the attack, but he didn't find out McClane's relation to Holly, who was using her maiden name Gennero. In an act of desperation, Hans headed up to the unfinished floors to retrieve the detonators, where he ended up meeting McClane. Using an alias and an improvised American accent, he posed as an escaped hostage, but he gave himself away by holding his cigarette in European fashion. His henchman arrived, and a violent shootout ensues. Hans orders his men to shoot up the glass walls of the offices. Despite being barefoot, John runs over broken glass and escapes. However, Hans retrieves the detonators.

Gruber's death

Hans is dropped to his death from a high storey window

Gruber then had the hostages sent up to the roof. The explosion still went off, but McClane managed to save the hostages. Meanwhile, Gruber had accidentally discovered Holly's relation to McClane after seeing a news report, and held her hostage in the vault room. McClane managed to survive by tying a fire hose to his waist and jumping off of the building and shoot through a window to gain admittance to the building. John tapes his Beretta 92F pistol to his back and surrenders his MP5 machine gun to save Holly. Gruber lets his guard down and prepares to kill McClane, who puts his hands behind his head, only to pull his pistol and kill the remaining terrorist and shoot Hans in the shoulder, shattering a window. Gruber managed to grab onto Holly's watch and attempted to shoot John, but John unclasped her watch just in time and Hans fell to his death on the pavement 30 stories below. Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson uttered Gruber's immortal epitaph: "I hope that's not a hostage!"

Legacy

His brother, Simon Gruber would later plant liquid binary bombs all over the city of New York in the 1995 sequel, Die Hard With a Vengeance. He forced John McClane to solve various riddles and puzzles to avoid more explosions under the guise of revenge. While the city's police was distracted with this, he stole gold from a federal wall street bank. To prevent the police from following him, he pretended to put the gold on a ship and destroy it, but he really smuggled it into Canada where he planned to melt it into statuettes of the Empire State Building so he could smuggle it out of the country. However, John got off of the ship that was to be destroyed and tracked him down, killing him in a helicopter explosion after telling him to give Hans his regards.

Even though he stated that he thought that his brother was an asshole, he did state that "life has its bonuses", implying that part of his motive was indeed revenge for his brother's death, and later confirming this by saying "there's a difference, you know, between not liking one's brother and not caring when some dumb Irish flatfoot drops him out of a window."

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