If you are a true sneakerhead, and if you are reading this, when you watch a movie, you are constantly looking down to see the sneakers the characters are wearing. There are some undeniably iconic sneaker moments in film. Moments that have made certain pairs of sneakers movie stars. Many shoes have been turned iconic by appearing in a memorable scene or on the feet of a famous film character.
Below are the 10 best shoe appearances in the history of film.
- Game of Death (1978) - Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66
Icons do not get much bigger than Bruce Lee. His contributions as an actor, athlete, and role model are impossible to measure. Game of Death is one of Lee’s most popular projects, and his most controversial. The film was released years after Lee’s death and included footage of Lee he shot years prior.
In the movie Lee wears the Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66. The shoe has become an icon and was worn by Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill films as a homage to Bruce Lee.
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) - Vans Checkerboard Slip-On
Fast Times at Ridgemont High changed the teenage comedy genre forever. It took a raw and unfiltered look at high school. The film was hilarious, but still had moments of drama that looked honestly at what it meant to be a teenager in 1982. The cast included rising stars Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Nicolas Cage.
Sean Penn was a part of the ensemble, but he stole the show as Jeff Spicoli. Penn’s character wore the Vans Checkerboard Slip-On and helped the shoe become a symbol of laid back California culture.
- Aliens (1986) - Reebok Alien Stomper
Aliens was the follow up film to the film Alien. Many fans and critics hailed Aliens as a superior film to the classic, Alien. Sigourney Weaver starred in Alien and Aliens as Ellen Ripley. Ripley was one of the first true action heroines. Aliens was a huge box office success in the summer of 1986, and it helped to establish Alien as a long running franchise.
Sigourney Weaver wore the Reebok Alien Stomper in the film. Reebok made the futuristic shoe specifically for Aliens. The Alien Stomper is one of the most popular film shoes.
- Do The Right Thing (1989) – Air Jordan IV
Spike Lee’s 1989 film, Do The Right Thing, became an instant classic. It took on controversial topics like race relations and police brutality with no filters. Do The Right Thing would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Lee would go on to craft many other memorable and important films, but Do The Right Thing is a standout in his career.
Lee’s Do The Right Thing featured the Jordan IV in a memorable scene and helped the shoe transcend the game of basketball. Lee would take part in many popular Air Jordan ads as Mars Blackmon.
- Back to the Future Part II (1989) - Nike Mag
Tinker Hatfield was chosen by the makers of Back to the Future II to design a shoe for Michael J. Fox to wear in the film. Hatfield was a rising name at Nike, and today he is considered the greatest shoe designer of all time. The filmmakers wanted to create a fictional sneaker that was aspirational and exciting.
The highlight of the Mag was that they were self-lacing. When Marty McFly put them on, they laced on their own. Which in 1989, when BTTF II premiered in theaters, was mind blowing.
- Forrest Gump (1994) – Nike Cortez
Forrest Gump is one of the most beloved films of the past 50 years. It stars Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump. Despite challenges that make Forrest appear to be naïve and dim, he accomplishes amazing things in his life. Tom Hanks won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Gump. The film also won Best Picture.
The Nike Cortez is one of Nike’s most meaningful models. It has remained popular for decades now. The shoe showed up in Forrest Gump and was worn by Hanks during a pivotal moment in the film.
- Space Jam (1996) - Air Jordan XI “Space Jam”
The Air Jordan 11 is one of the most innovative and unique sneaker designs of all time. The use of patent leather on the 11 made it not only a standout for the Air Jordan franchise, but also the sneaker world. Designer Tinker Hatfield looked at premium fashion and luxury as a blueprint for the 11. The 11 is one of Jordan Brand’s most popular models.
Michael Jordan plays himself in Space Jam and interacts with cartoon aliens and the beloved Looney Tunes characters. The Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam” is worn by MJ in the movie.
- He Got Game (1998) - Air Jordan 13
The Air Jordan 13 is the last shoe MJ wore for a complete season with the Chicago Bulls. He would wear the 14 briefly in the NBA Finals and would later return to play for the Washington Wizards, but the 13 was the last shoe he would lace up for a season with the Bulls. In many ways, the 13 represents the end of an era.
The 13’s cultural relevance was cemented by its appearance in Spike Lee’s He Got Game. Denzel Washington’s character in the film has a memorable scene where he purchases the 13.
- White Men Can’t Jump (1992) - Nike Air Command Force
White Men Can’t Jump is considered a comedy classic today. The film, which starred Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, focused on two street ball hustlers. It is beloved for its depiction of basketball culture and memorable characters. The characters in the film are remembered today for their unique fashion, which includes the use of the Nike Air Command Force.
Harrelson wore the Air Command Force in White Men Can’t Jump and he helped to make them classics. David Robinson wore the shoe on court, but they are known best for White Men Can’t Jump.
- The Sandlot (1993) - PF Flyers
Unlike the other sports films on this list, The Sandlot focuses on baseball. Baseball is not a sport that is usually associated with memorable sneakers. The Sandlot takes a nostalgic look back at the 1960s, when baseball was truly America’s pastime. The film focuses on a group of young kids who get into adventures centered around baseball.
The PF Flyers wore worn by the character Benny in The Sandlot. The simple black high top shoes from the film have been released several times over the years thanks to the popularity of The Sandlot.
- Adam C. Better
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