The All-Time Greatest Marvel Comic Sneaker Colabs
When Black Panther pounced onto the silver screen at the beginning of 2018, it was met with some seriously high praise from furry fans and cinema critics alike. It's since been lauded as one of the greatest films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And at the time, the sneaker world served up four colabs for the king of Wakanda in just one week!
But that wasn't the only time Marvel have had a kick crossover. Their heavy hitting multimedia heroes have spawned as many colabs as the equally praise-worthy Black Panther soundtrack, and we've taken the liberty of picking our favourites for your perusing pleasure.
BAIT x PUMA x Black Panther and New Balance x Jimmy Jazz x Black Panther
The connection was there to be made, and the Big Cat made it. Can you think of another brand more suited to a feline-themed colab? The two-strong pack from PUMA and BAIT features an inky Tsugi BOG and a similarly blacked-out Mostro Mid. These might not give you superhuman abilities like the Heart-Shaped Herb, but with tooling such as the midfoot straps, Ignite Foam and evoKNIT, they definitely look the part.
While PUMA might have been the most obvious collaborator for a Black Panther sneaker, New Balance's Marvel marvel is the most badass. The stealthy pack draws on Black Panther's impact-absorbing Vibranium suit, with the 574S and 990v4 both sporting blacked-out uppers, save for theme-appropriate silver detailing, 3M touches and red Marvel dubraes. Definitely one of the more wearable Marvel tie-ins, these will appeal even if you don't know your T'Challa from you T'Chaka.
Avengers x adidas Pack and Marvel x adidas D.O.N. Issue #2 'Spidey-Sense'
The bold colours and strong shapes of comics were born for sneakers, and adidas took full advantage of that fact for this release. Delving into their archives, the Three Stripes revived four retro basketball shoes – those with the most panels, and those most worthy of the superhero treatment – to celebrate the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. It's a sensory onslaught, but those Captain America Crazy 97s steal the show.
And in mid-2020, the Three Stripes linked up with Spider-Man (whose particular exclusion from the Avengers is a convoluted licensing saga worthy of its own universe) on the basketball performance model known as the D.O.N. Issue #2. Very comic book–sounding name, hey? They're all-green and feature signature Spidey one-liners.
Marvel Comics x BAPE Pack
It's well known that BAPE founder Nigo is a huge comic book fan. In 2005, he indulged in an expansive pack of BAPE STAs in collaboration with Marvel Comics, spawning candy-bright patent leather colourways modelled after characters such as Captain America, the Hulk, and Iron Man. Of course, key superheroes like Spider-Man and the X-Men weren't left out either!
Best yet, these BAPE STAs came sealed in blister packaging, just like action figurines! This made the colab highly prized among both sneakerheads and comic collectors. The practice of blister-packaged sneakers was reprised for BAPE's DC Comics colab sequel, and adidas bit the idea for a 2007 release that preceded their official partnership with Star Wars, then proceeded to repeat the concept a few times since.
Vans x Avengers Collection
Sometimes a colab takes a true-to-the-source approach. We're not talking simply superhero-inspired colourways, but rather, when a comic book character consumes the whole shoe.
Vans proved their models were the perfect base for such a concept with 2013's Avengers Collection. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes made the leap from comic to canvas, banding together on the Sk8-Hi and Era silhouettes. The team’s resident billionaire also splashed out for his own Iron Man make-ups. Spider-Man was treated to honorary Avenger status with designs of his very own to round out the collection. No detail of the colab was overlooked, even the box was given the comic book treatment. This was definitely one for the collectors.
Reebok x Marvel Pack
Reebok weren't satisfied with tapping only one source of Marvel inspo, so instead they tapped the entire Marvel Universe to bring us 10 shoes based on 10 characters.
Like adidas, Reebok revived some little-seen silhouettes such as the Night Storm and the outdoorsy Night Sky, and the collection is all the stronger for it. Of course, the classics turned up too: both the InstaPump Fury and Freestyle Hi got two runs each. With heroes and villains both represented, it was hard to choose a side.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse x Air Jordan 1 'Origin Story'
2018 seemed to be the year of the superhero movie. The final weeks of December capped off a string of huge cinematic releases with an equally big sneaker drop in the form of the Air Jordan 1 'Origin Story'. This web-slinging flip on the iconic 'Chicago' colourway coincided with the premiere of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and featured subtly printed gripper dots, ice soles, and blue tongue tags.
Looking back, it can be argued that these sneakers were at the precipice of the AJ1 avalanche that would come crashing especially hard in 2019. Were you on the front foot and copped a pair when it was still humanly possible to?