6 of the most iconic Nike sneaker movie moments
Product placement is one of the inevitable evils of the movie industry. When done wrong, as it so often is, the blatant showcasing of a product can take you completely out of an immersive cinema experience and make it feel like you’re just watching one really long advert. We know this first-hand having tried our very best to erase the image of James Bond drinking a Heineken in Skyfall from our memory.
One company that generally seems to get its product placements right however is Nike. The sportswear giant usually makes sure that its kicks are front and centre without seeming too shoe-horned (sorry) in to the proceedings.
Well, most of the time. But even the occasions where Nike does go a little overboard with its product placement it usually offers us a showcase of some pretty slick sneakers as compensation.
Here are six of our favourite movie moments where Nike’s slick kicks became the real star of the show:
Nike Blazer in Like Mike
You can’t do much better in promoting a product than by having the actual plot of a film revolve around a pair of magic kicks. Far more than just a regular pair of ratty Nike Blazers, this specific pair of sneakers gave the film’s protagonist Calvin Cambridge an unprecedented basketball ability due to the fact their previous owner was the legendary Michael Jordan. The main moral of Like Mike is, of course, that Nike shoes are genuinely magic, make you better at everything, and that without them you are nothing. Fact. The movie’s other primary message is that being good at basketball also helps you get adopted. Another fact.
Air Jordan 4 in Do The Right Thing
Any sneakerhead who has ever seen Spike Lee’s 1989 cult classic will have likely related to this scene on a somewhat spiritual level. To a shoe fanatic, having a fresh-out-the-box sneaker scuffed when you’re out and about is akin to having your brand-new Lamborghini keyed right in front of your eyes. In fact, Buggin’ Out’s heated reaction to his brand new Air Jordan 4’s getting ruined probably seems like a fairly understated reaction – especially considering how this exact pair would set you back a hell out a lot more than $108 plus tax nowadays.
Nike Cortez in Forrest Gump
A shoe that allows you to run across the entirety of the United States of America has got to be pretty good, right? Tom Hanks’s ever-lovable Forrest Gump certainly seemed to think so as he rocked a crisp pair of the Nike Cortez in his endeavor to run away just about all of his feelings. Promptly running them into oblivion, this colourway has become so iconic that Nike has had to re-release the sneaker a number of times over the years.
Nike Air More Uptempo in George of the Jungle
This is definitely one of the moments that errs more to the side of blatant product placement as opposed to a subtle and nuanced addition to the plot. But who really cares? George of the Jungle is a movie about Brendan Fraser being raised by apes and moving to San Francisco in order to impress a woman. It's great. And so is the fact that giving a jungle man a pair of Nike Air More Uptempos turns him into an Olympic calibre runner.
Nike MAG in Back to the Future II
The Nike MAG (Magnetic Anti Gravity) are without a doubt the most iconic pair of shoes in movie history. Find one man who didn’t want a pair of self-lacing trainers after watching Marty McFly dick about in the far-off future of 2015 and you’ll have found the world’s most boring person. The demand for this futuristic sock sheath was so high that the mad scientists over at Nike actually produced a working version in 2016. Self-lacing and all. That being said, pairs of these grailed sneakers have sold for eye-watering sums of around Dhs190,000. So you’d best have your Grays Sports Almanac of 2000-2050 on the ready if you ever hope of being able to afford a pair.
Air Jordan 4 (again) in White House Down
We’d like to think that this scene from White House Down is somewhat of an homage to Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and an acknowledgement of what the director's career has done for African American cinema. Even if not, it’s worth it purely to see Jamie Foxx, playing the President of the United States might we add, absolutely ruin a fool for messing with his Jordans. Nonsensical? Yes. But a brilliant Presidential endorsement of one of Nike’s crown jewel sneakers? Oh, yes.