The 20 Best Sneakers in Movie History

From Paul Newman’s Winning Rolex to that one Skyfall outfit, there are few things menswear dudes love more than obsessing over the garments worn in movies. And that’s especially true of the best sneakers in movie history, given just how many epic grails have graced the silver screen over the past few decades. We’re talking about timeless icons like the checkerboard Vans in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, specially-designed concoctions like Back to the Future Part II‘s auto-lacing Nike Air Mag, and low-key bangers like the Adidas Samba Super in Trainspotting. To help you beef up both your sneaker rotation and your must-watch list, we’ve rounded up 20 of the greatest kicks ever to appear in Hollywood flicks.

Aliens (1986)

ALIENS, from left: Bill Paxton, Paul Reiser, Tip Tipping, Cynthia Scott, Jenette Goldstein, Trevor Steedman, Michael Biehn, Sigourney Weaver, Mark Rolston, Ricco Ross, Daniel Kash, Lance Henrikson, William Hope, Colette Hiller, Al Matthews, 1986, TM & Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved. /Courtesy Everett Collection©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

Reebok initially designed the high-top Alien Stompers solely for James Cameron’s Aliens, with no intention of ever releasing them to the public. But Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley looked so ridiculously cool beating the living hell out of some Xenomorphs in ‘em, that sneaker fans spent the ensuing decades demanding their release—and in 2016, to mark the movie’s 30th anniversary, the British sportswear giant finally complied. The shoe went on to have a four-year run of epic colorways before Reebok decided to put the silhouette back in the vault. No word yet if they plan on bringing the shoe back for Aliens‘ 40th birthday in 2026—but rest assured plenty of cinephiles and sneakerheads alike will be lining up if they do.

Back to the Future Part II (1989)

BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II, Michael J. Fox, 1989©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

Ask anyone what the greatest sneakers in movie history are, and they’ll probably bring up the Nike Mag from Back to the Future Part II. Designed by Tinker Hatfield (the mind behind other Swoosh icons like the Air Max 1 and the Air Jordan 3), again, these were made just for the film. But in 2011, Nike decided to make them a reality—initially without the self-lacing tech depicted with the film, and then with it for a 2016 re-release—and they quickly became some of the priciest kicks on the planet. To put that into context, the last pair of the 2016 version sold on StockX went for $76,925.

Basketball Diaries (1995)

THE BASKETBALL DIARIES, Patrick McGaw, James Madio, Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo Di Caprio, 1995, (c) New Line Cinema / Courtesy: Everett Collection©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

Basketball Diaries details the troublesome, drug-addled teen years of Jim Carroll (Leonardo DiCaprio) as his dreams of becoming an athlete fade. The mighty Converse Chuck Taylor (a fixture of countless movies, from Rocky to The Breakfast Club) got plenty of screen time here, as Carroll and his New York prep-school crew all wear the canvas classics. They also serve as an important symbol: as the cast fall further wayward (spoiler alert!), the state of their Converses also takes a nosedive. By the end, they’re scuffed and ruined beyond repair.

Batman (1989)

BATMAN, Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson (on TVs), 1989©Warner Bros/courtesy Everett C

Tim Burton’s Batman might feel a little camp compared to the later Christopher Nolan and Matt Reeves installments. But it’s got one thing that no other Batman film has: great sneakers. Those rugged boots on Michael Keaton’s Batsuit? They’re actually a heavily-modified version of the Nike Air Trainer 3. If you squint your eyes while watching the movie, you can actually see the “Nike Air” logo on the heels.

Big (1988)

BIG, Jared Rushton, Tom Hanks, 1988, TM and Copyright (c)20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

Everyone talks about the Air Force 1 these days, but its oft-overlooked sequel, the Air Force 2, was the star of the show in this Penny Marshall-directed film—worn during the unforgettable FAO Schwarz scene by Tom Hanks’s character Josh Baskin. Despite its place in cinema history, however, the 1986 model never became anywhere near as popular as its predecessor.

Do the Right Thing (1989)

DO THE RIGHT THING, Paul Benjamin (center), Robin Harris (2nd from right), Frankie Faison (right), 1989, © Universal/courtesy Everett Collection©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

Spike Lee’s 1989 classic Do The Right Thing took full advantage of its director’s close relationship with His Airness and shone a spotlight on the Air Jordan 4. You’ll no doubt recognize the line, “He stepped on my brand new white Jordans!,” which is uttered by Buggin Out, played by Giancarlo Esposito, who has his ‘White Cements’ scuffed by his Larry-Bird-jersey-wearing neighbor.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, Sean Penn, Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards, 1982, (c) Universal/courtesy Everett Collection©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

The checkerboard Vans Slip-On was already popular among SoCal skaters in the late ‘70s and early ’80s, but the shoe became a true sensation after stoner-surfer Jeff Spicoli sported them in 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High. More than 40 years later, the shoes remain an emblem of laidback Californian cool, beloved by everyone from high-fashion freaks to stage-diving rockers.

Forrest Gump (1994)

FORREST GUMP, Tom Hanks, 1994. (c) Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Run, Forrest, Run!!! When Forrest Gump sets off on his epic three-year run, traversing back and forth across the country several times over, he does so in an OG white pair of Nike Cortez—the Swoosh’s first-ever running model, designed by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman in 1972—that he receives from his lifelong love interest Jenny. The movie, which earned Tom Hanks his second Academy Award, helped re-popularize the Cortez among a whole new generation—and it remains cool to this day, especially among diehard celeb fans like Jeremy Allen White.

George of the Jungle (1997)

GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE, Brendan Fraser, 1997. ©Buena Vista Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection©Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy

Despite helping to establish Brendan Fraser as a major star, George of the Jungle is a largely forgettable family flick—with the notable exception of a scene in which the titular character arrives back in his fictional African homeland, unboxes a fresh pair of Nike Air More Uptempos, laces ’em up, and immediately begins to run into the plains ahead. The ’90s were a weird time, man.

He Got Game (1998)

HE GOT GAME, Hill Harper, Travis Best, Ray Allen, John Wallace, Walter McCarty, 1998.©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

Another Spike Lee masterpiece, He Got Game features a slew of classic basketball shoes, from the Nike Air Foamposite One to the Nike Air Max Uptempo 97 (above). Perhaps most significantly, Denzel sports the Air Jordan 13 during the climactic scene. The Js had only dropped a few weeks before filming began, so credit goes to Lee for getting them in the movie so quickly.

Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)

KILL BILL, Uma Thurman, 2003, (c) Miramax/courtesy Everett Collection©Miramax/Courtesy Everett Collection

In Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Volume 1, as an ode to Bruce Lee’s ensemble from his final film Game of Death, Uma Thurman dons a yellow-and-black jumpsuit with a pair of matching Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 shoes. In a perfectly Tarantino move, Thurman’s custom version of the kicks have “FUCK U” molded across the bottom of the soles.

Like Mike (2002)

LIKE MIKE, Lil Bow Wow, 2002, TM & copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

The plot of Like Mike is goofy, sure—a random kid played by Bow Wow finds Michael Jordan’s childhood sneakers and magically receives his basketball skills—but there’s no denying that the shoes they chose to feature, a pair of Nike Blazers with Carolina blue accents, are icy as hell. The Blazer was Nike’s original hoops model, first released in 1973 and worn by NBA legends like George Gervin.

Lost in Translation (2003)

LOST IN TRANSLATION, Bill Murray, 2003, (c) Focus Features/courtesy Everett Collection©Focus Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

Sofia Coppola is one of the most stylish directors on the planet, so it’s no surprise that Lost in Translation features one of the sickest sneakers in movie history. In one scene, Bill Murray’s Bob Harris is seen wearing the Nike HTM Air Woven, a revolutionary design dreamed up by three of the greatest minds in the footwear industry: Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield, and Mark Parker (who was then the CEO of Nike).

Space Jam (1996)

SPACE JAM, humans from left: Wayne Knight, Michael Jordan, animated characters from left: Wyle E. Coyote, Beaky Buzzard, Daffy Duk (2), Bugs Bunny (right looking up), Porky Pig (back to camera), 1996, © Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

Michael Jordan’s Looney Tunes blockbuster helped turn an entire generation of kids into sneakerheads overnight, thanks in no small part to the truly special pair of kicks he wears in the climatic scene: the Air Jordan 11 ‘Space Jam’. Featuring a ballistic mesh base, glossy patent overlays, and an icy blue sole, this exact pair re-released in 2016 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Joe Pytka-directed flick.

The Goonies (1985)

THE GOONIES, from left: Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Ke Huy Quan (aka Jonathan Ke Quan), Sean Astin, 1985. ph: © Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett C

Decades before he won an Oscar for Everything Everywhere All at Once, Ke Huy Quan wore one of the coolest movie sneakers ever in The Goonies: a customized pair of Nike Sky Force Highs. In keeping with his character Data’s plethora of tricky inventions, the shoes came complete with hollowed-out heels that shot out slippery oil at the press of a button (“Slick shoes!”) The Sky Force originally dropped in 1984, the same year as the first Air Jordan, but fell to the wayside due to the latter’s insane popularity.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU, Bill Murray, director Wes Anderson on set, 2004, (c) Touchstone/courtesy Everett Collection©Touchstone Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Every detail in every frame of every Wes Anderson movie is lovingly and exactingly labored over, and the shoes featured in 2004’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou are no exception. Crafted specially for the film, the Adidas Rom ‘Zissou’ features a charming mix of blues and yellows and the title character’s name printed alongside the Three Stripes. Despite years of fans clamoring for the shoes to see a proper release, the German athletic giant waited until 2017 before producing them for the public—and even then, the drop was limited to only 100 pairs worldwide.

The Terminator (1984)

THE TERMINATOR, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1984. ©Orion Pictures Corporation/Courtesy Everett CollectionOrion Pictures Corporation/Courtesy Everett Collection

Before Kyle Reese faces the Terminator, he robs a department store and leaves with a pair of Nike Vandals. Launched back in the early ’80s when leg warmers were a national craze and synth-pop dominated airwaves, the Vandal came complete with a removable ankle strap on the high-top version.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, Leonardo DiCaprio, 2013. ph: Mary Cybulski/©Paramount Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

The Wolf of Wall Street is brimming with luxurious excess—from Jordan Belfort’s Lamborghini Countach to his fine bespoke suits—but the illest kicks in the movie, worn as Belfort is wrecking said Lamborghini during a drug-fueled romp, are far more commonplace: a pair of timeless Nike Cortez in a crisp white-and-black color combo.

Trainspotting (1996)

TRAINSPOTTING, Ewen Bremner, Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, 1996, (c) Miramax/courtesy Everett Collection©Miramax/Courtesy Everett Collection

Based on Irvine Welsh’s novel, Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting is set among working men’s clubs and council estates in Edinburgh. Ewan McGregor’s Mark Renton and his junkie pals embody ’90s grunge, with his own look consisting of a buzzcut, torn cropped T-shirts, drainpipe denim, and the Adidas Samba Super. Before this model became the go-to for Lost Mary-wielding millennials, it was often spotted on the terraces of big football matches alongside other sneakers like the Gazelle.

White House Down (2013)

WHITE HOUSE DOWN, from left: Jamie Foxx, Channing Tatum, 2013. ph: Reiner Bajo/©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

There’s an action-packed scene in 2013’s White House Down where a terrorist grabs the President’s sneakers, and the Commander-in-Chief (played by Jamie Foxx) screams, “Get your hands off my Jordans!” Considering the Js in question were the Air Jordan 4 ‘Fire Red’, we’d say this reaction was justifiable. And judging by how many times it’s been memed over the past 11 years, a lot of sneakerheads can probably relate.

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