The presence of lifestyle footwear has been well documented in pop culture, particularly in movies, but performance sneakers, too, have had their fair share of the spotlight on camera.
When you think of the most memorable sneaker moments in movie history, the sort of scenes that come to mind include the game-changing Flubber shoe or the variety of Air Jordan sneakers featured on the feet of MJ and Co. in Space Jam. And right fully so. After all, moments like these will forever be ingrained in our heads as relics of our childhood.
However there are countless other performance sneakers that have also made notable appearances on the big screen. For your enjoyment, join us as we count down The Best Performance Sneakers Moments in Movie History.
No. 10 - Robin Hood: Men In Tights
Shoes: Reebok Pump Omni Zone
Surrounded by guards in Nottingham Forest, a tights-wearing Dave Chappelle calls a timeout because "he's running out of air" and reaches down to pump up his Reebok Pump Omni Zone sneakers.
No. 9 - The Longest Yard
Sneakers: Reebok Football Cleats
After the star running back (played by Nelly) of the "Cons" football team hits the field in a pair of hole-ridden Converse All-Stars, Chris Rock's "Caretaker" character smuggles in a pair of fresh Reebok football cleats for his teammate.
No. 8 - Kill Bill
Sneakers: Onitsuka Tiger Tai-Chi
Uma Thurman is no Bruce Lee, but she did do justice to his signature Onitsuka Tiger Tai-Chi martial arts sneakers for her kick-ass role in the Kill Bill series.The shoes worked out great for Thurman, as she looked stellar in her fight scenes both indoor and out. She flew up railings with ease, and even managed to keep her footing in a snow battle with Lucy Liu.
No. 7 - Teen Wolf
Sneakers: adidas Tourney
Albeit in the form of a werewolf, Michael J. Fox shows mad game in the adidas Tourney basketball sneakers in the 1985 movie "Teen Wolf." In an era dominated by Nike (Back to the Future came out the same year), adidas managed slip into cult movies like "Teen Wolf" for some notable face time.
No. 6 - Baseketball
Sneakers: adidas Crazy 8
Kobe Bryant wasn’t the only one rocking the rocking the adidas Crazy 8’s on the court in ’98. Granted it was a different type of court, but the Milwaukee Beers team in the sports comedy BASEketball lace up in Kobe’s first official signature shoe from adidas for their own title run. Known for their unique Feet You Wear construction, the Crazy 8’s were a fitting shoe for the wacky group of misfits looking to win, make bank, and have fun doing it—sound like a young Kobe?
No. 5 - Game of Death
Sneakers: Onitsuka Tiger Tai-Chi
At the same time Bruce Lee was kicking ass on Hollywood sets, Onitsuka Tiger released the Tai-Chi, a minimalist training shoe designed specifically for martial arts. Naturally, Bruce, one of the most influential martial artists of all time, laced up in a par of the Tai-Chi’s for the 1978 film The Game of Death. In the final moments of the movie, Bruce takes down a barefooted Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a pair of the shoes in an impressive display of footwork and agility. The Tai-Chi’s went perfectly with Bruce Lee’s trademark yellow jumpsuit.
No. 4 - White Men Can't Jump
Shoes: Nike Air Command Force
Contrary to his appearance, Woody Harrelson's Billy Hoyle character in White Men Can't Jump has some serious skills on the blacktop. He's also got a serious pair of sneakers to match in the Nike Air Command Force. Throughout the duration of the movie, Billy dominates the competition in the high-top Air Command Force. With Air Max cushioning underfoot and locked-in ankle support, it's no wonder he's able to break so many ankles on the court.
No. 3 - The Sandlot
Sneaker: PF Flyers
After their ball goes over the fence and into the territory of the Beast, Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez takes one for the team and puts on a brand new pair of PF Flyers to give him the courage hop the fence and retrieve it. Talk about the ultimate product placement—the clip even featured a close-up of the PF Flyers shoe box. Following the recent 20th anniversary of the shoe's appearance in the classic flick, a special edition of the PF Flyers Original Sandlot Shoe was released. Needless to say, it sold out in a matter of days.
No. 2 - Forrest Gump
Sneakers: Nike Cortez
Tom Hank's character broke free from his leg braces for the first time in a pair of leather boots. But later on in the movie, Gump upgraded to the Nike Cortez for a “little run” that ended up being an epic cross-country journey. At the time, the Nike Cortez was already a shoe that garnered legendary status. However after its appearance in Forrest Gump, the shoe became an instant icon in pop culture.
No. 1 - Back to the Future Part II
Sneakers: Nike Air Mag
Certainly ahead of their time, Marty McFly’s legendary Nike Air Mag sneakers in Back to the Future Part II featured cutting edge technology like a self-fastening lacing system that (unfortunately) still hasn’t made its way to modern-day performance sneakers. In the following clip from the movie, McFly shows the versatility of the Air Mag, as he hops on a hover board to elude his foes.