7 of the Most Legendary Sneaker Moments in Film

Tom Hanks Nike Cortez Runner Forest Gump

From Marty McFly’s power-lacing Nike Mag to Michael Jordan’s cosmic Air Jordan 11 ‘Space Jam’, the Hollywood machine is regularly generating hype for some of the most sought-after sneakers on planet earth. Unforgettable scenes emblazon rolls of film: Forrest Gump unboxes a fresh pair of Nike Cortez. Lieutenant Ellen Ripley stomps bugs in ‘Bok. Kyle Reese finds time to go sneaker shopping in The Terminator, and some half-wit scuffs Buggin Out’s Air Jordan 4!

Fly Like an Eagle

Regardless of whatever entourage LeBron James brings to Space Jam 2, it’s going to be tricky to follow the flightpath of Michael Jordan’s 1996 classic Space Jam. Still one of the more elusive sneakers on planet earth, Michael Jordan’s Hollywood sojourn created an interstellar level of hype for the Air Jordan 11 ‘Space Jam’.

Laced by Michael Jordan in the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic, the sneaker is still one of the most highly regarded in the Jumpman hangar. Another Air Jordan sneaker cameo that flew under the radar? The nasty Air Jordan 2 Bill Murray laced in the final game.

Good luck, King James!

The 'Bok Stomps Bugs

Specifically engineered for Lieutenant Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) in the 1986 sci-fi hit Aliens, the Reebok Alien Stomper is anything but subtle. Officially debuting one year after the film released, the laceless Alien Stomper featured a premium leather construction with volcanic red accents across the design.

Frequently lionised in the sneakersphere thanks to some stunning anniversary collections, the Alien Stomper is one of the most recognisable sneakers in the whole galaxy.

125 Minutes of Heat in Brooklyn

Where do we start? Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing is absolutely bursting at the seams with sneaker heat.

Told during one hot summers day in Brooklyn, Spike Lee’s masterpiece features everything from the Air Jordan 4 ‘White Cement’, the Nike Air Trainer 3 ‘Medicine Ball’, the Nike Air Revolution, and the Nike Cortez. Do the Right Thing is loaded with seminal sneaker scenes, but it’s Buggin’ Out’s sweltering blow-up that takes the cake. Buggin’ Out (Giancarlo Esposito) confronts a passerby after his brand new Air Jordan 4s are scuffed by a bicycle, launching into a diatribe that spans street etiquette, Jordans, and gentrification in Brooklyn.

In 2017, Nike even debuted the limited edition Air Jordan 4 ‘Buggin’ Out’, a testament to the film’s enduring social and political legacy.

There’s 125 minutes of heat here for sneakerheads.

Take your pick!

Never Terminate a Vandal

Kyle Reese’s first port of call after travelling back in time to protect Sarah Connor from the Terminator? Sneaker shopping, of course.

Plucking out a Black/Silver/White pair, the Nike Vandal first debuted in 1984 alongside the Air Force 1 and Dunk. Known for its idiosyncratic ankle strap and nylon uppers, the Vandal is very much the little brother of more high-profile silhouettes like the AF-1, but nevertheless retains a strong, loyal fanbase of Vandal converts.

The money shot? Pulling those ankle straps tight beneath the curtain dresser as the police flash their spotlights across the department store.

George Need More Air!

What better way to get acclimatised to human civilisation than with the gargantuan Air More Uptempo? The larger-than-life silhouette was originally debuted in 1996 by Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen, the very same year he picked up his fourth NBA title and second Olympic Gold Medal.

One year later, when George of the Jungle first hit screens, the silhouette crossed over from the court to the cinema. In perhaps the most dramatic sneaker unboxing of all time, George (played by Brendan Fraser) laces the Nike Air More Uptempo before utilising the full-length Air Bag for a sprint towards the concrete jungle.

‘Next time, George get bigger box.’

They just don’t unbox them like they used to...


Where We're Going, We Don't Need Laces

Behold, the moment that sent sneaker culture into hyperdrive: Marty McFly’s self-lacing Nike Mag.

When Nike finally announced that the Nike Mag from Back to the Future Part II was getting a legitimate release, the sneakersphere went into hyperdrive. Famously worn by Michael J. Fox, the original concept was designed in 1989 by sneaker mastermind Tinker Hatfield. Some two decades later, the Nike Mag landed in a limited production run of 15,000, with all proceeds going to The Michael J. Fox Foundation (a charity raising money for Parkinson’s disease). A total of $4.7 million was raised, making it the largest charity auction of all time.

And Nike are continuing to expand the Mag legacy into the 21st century, Rookie of the Year lock Ja Morant debuting the all-new Adapt BB 2.0 in 2020!

Run Forrest, Run!

Ever wondered what made Forrest Gump run so damn fast?

Nike’s very first track shoe, the Cortez, is gifted to Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) by Jenny Curran (Robin Wright) in the OG White/Varsity Royal/Varsity Red colour scheme, before he takes a ‘little run’ across the country.

An undisputed classic in the Swoosh catalogue, the vintage 1982 runner still has fresh legs all these years later, Nike recently linking up with Kendrick Lamar and Olivia Kim for fearless renditions of the cult classic.

Header Image via Paramount Pictures

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