The 1970s ended with Hal Needham creating his stunt group Stunts Unlimited and directing Burt Reynolds in Hooper. The 1980s started with Needham directing a pilot episode of television serial about stunt performers called… Stunts Unlimited. The show revolved around Hollywood stunt performers being enlisted by the US Military and started a decade of adrenaline-inducing action.
The 1980s were the birth of the high concept film! Any film which could be easily summed up in one sentence. “Hot-shot fighter pilots compete for the number one spot at flight school!” One of the masters of these films were producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. These films would go on to create household names of Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Claude Van Damme. In the past, studios believed that for star power to pull in audiences they would need to believe everything they saw on screen was the actor's performance, but with the newfound popularity of stunt performers, they were able to package the star, and stunt performer into something far more powerful: character.
When you refer to Bruce Willis in Die Hard, you call him John Mclane, you have arguments over Rocky or Rambo, and Arnold Schwarzenegger effortlessly played both the good guy and bad guy to equally iconic effect.