Thompson, who is now 45, grew up in a time when the Jordan 1s were popular, and he said he and Persichetti in particular saw Michael Jordan as a hero. “We just said, ‘Oh, it would be kind of cool if [Miles] was wearing Jordan 1s,” Thompson says. “I think we kind of laughed about it, you know, in the sense of like, there’s no way we’ll be able to actually get away with that.”

They decided to draw a shoe that was close to the Jordan 1s and go from there. But eventually it came time to make a decision. They knew that once they committed to something, it would be costly to change later, and that a pair of almost-Air Jordans was nowhere near the real thing. Persichetti, director Peter Ramsey, producer Christina Steinberg, and Thompson discussed it in a production meeting, and decided to write to Nike. As Thompson describes it:

Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey sat down and wrote this very heartfelt letter about what the brand meant to them, and who the character was, and what the character meant to not just African American and Puerto Rican kids, but to all kids. This idea that anyone could wear the mask and reaching your full potential, how that, to us, sort of fit with the Jordan brand and the spirit of what Jordan represented—reaching your full potential and becoming the greatest version of yourself.

Thompson says they didn’t expect to hear back (which seems a little absurd now given the anticipation for the movie and what an opportunity it represents for Nike). The reply from Jordan brand was exactly what the team wanted to hear: The brand was excited about the spirit of Miles Morales, and to have him wear a pair of its sneakers in the movie.

The rest of the story is evident on the screen. “It’s tough to think of a more effective instance of product placement in 2018 than the moment in the first Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse trailer when Miles Morales starts slinging webs in a classic pair of Air Jordan 1s,” wrote.

Back on its feet

Tresvant of the Jordan brand says the movie’s ideas about empowerment and being your own hero—”Anyone can wear the mask” is a recurring theme—aligned with what Nike wants Jordan to represent. The company even created a special shoe for release, the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Origin Story. The design is derived from the original Jordan 1, and features a faint dot pattern like the dots that added texture to images in old printed comics.

Jordan 1 Origin Story
In print.
Image: Nike

This collaboration adds to the success the Jordan 1 has enjoyed this year, as a streak of special releases such as the “Not for resale” pack and the Union LA collaboration has generated a lot of excitement around the model among sneaker fans. Sneaker News said the Jordan 1 dominated in 2018.

Shameik Moore
Shameik Moore, the voice of Miles Morales, in Jordan 1s.
Image: Nike

And overall, the brand is slowly getting back to its feet. “In Q2, Jordan grew double digits and we returned to healthy, sustainable growth in North America,” Nike CEO Mark Parker announced on a Dec. 20 call with analysts to discuss the company’s recent earnings. Among the models he called out were the Jordan XI Concord and the Jordan 1.

Maybe no one is more excited about Miles Morales’s sneakers, however, than Thompson, who describes himself as a sneakerhead. “I buy Jordans all the time,” he says. Now there’s a version of the sneakers he grew up with, made for the character he helped to bring to the movie screen.

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