How Captain America: The Winter Soldier's Most Famous Scene Paid Homage To Die Hard 3

Here's an oddly specific question: Can you name a movie with a superb elevator fight? If you asked someone leaving the theater in April 2014 — the same month "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" was released — I think we all know what answer would be harmonized. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) giving a beat-down to an elevator full of covert Hydra goons is a spectacular bit of choreographed cinema. That's saying a lot in a cinematic universe filled with cosmic level action that you'd think would overshadow a bunch of men brawling in an elevator. Anyone who tells you otherwise is Martin Scorsese in disguise — whom I imagine (with fervent respect) shuffling outside MCU premiers murmuring to anyone who'll listen, "Cinema is dead. And we have killed it."

Since fewer than 30 films contain one, it turns out the elevator action sequence is itself a rare enough delight. That makes it all the more exhilarating that Captain America's elevator scene is an ode to another American everyman-turned-hero, albeit one that swears much more. Ask about choice elevator fights in December 1995, and you'd get an earful about a New York cop who prefers white tank tops to star-spangled outfits. That's because the iconic elevator confrontation in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is a knowing nod to an eerily similar scene in "Die Hard with a Vengeance."

An ill-fated elevator ambush

In both movies, our heroes are joined in their respective elevators by bad guys masquerading as good guys. For John McClane (Bruce Willis), it's a bunch of German bank-robbers wearing cop uniforms, and for Rogers, it's Brock Rumlow, aka Crossbones (Frank Grillo), and his Hydra agents. At first, nothing feels amiss, but then the red-flags start to go up. With Cap it's Rumlow's awkwardly anxious small-talk along with the visibly tense and sweating men in the elevator with him that clue him in on the ambush, while McClane's epiphany comes in noticing that one of the men is brandishing the badge of a cop he knew personally.

If that's not proof enough of the two scenes' similarities, how's this? When Rogers realizes what's about to happen, he gives the sarcastic one-liner: "Before we get started, does anyone wanna get out?" Do you know who else loves his one-liners? McClane. Though in this particular situation, he opts to distract with an anecdote about his wife's lottery numbers before shooting two of the men through his shirt and bloodily blowing away the others.

The only real differences between the two scenes are their length and the fact that, unlike McClane, poor Rogers had to, you know, leap out of the elevator to escape. So what if no one from Marvel or the "Die Hard" series has commented on the uncanny parallels? Even if it is purely coincidence, you can bet we'll be combing through both film universes for any other hidden similarities. Now that I think about it, Hans Gruber falling from Nakatomi Tower does remind me of a particular scene on Vormir in "Avengers: Endgame" for some reason...