Taking Flight: An Ode to Superhero (and Villain) Themed Sneakers

Updated: Aug 1




From the moment Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster collaborated to bring Superman to life in 1938, America has had a love affair for all things superhero. For many people, the iconic Batman logo and Superman “S” resonate as deeply across the globe as the Apple symbol or the holy cross. Maybe you were one of the “nerdy” kids excited about the latest issue of the Incredible Hulk. Perhaps you’re like me and grew up watching the newest episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, Static Shock, and Young Justice on Saturday morning. Or you’re of the younger generation, first becoming enamored by the wonders of the fictionally heroic through the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However you slice it, we’ve all been touched by the superhero bug in some way, shape or form, and if Thor: Love & Thunder’s total dominance at the box office is any indication, that isn’t changing anytime soon.


People express their love for superheroes and supervillains in all kinds of ways: statuettes and action figures, stickers, T-shirts, and video games (Batman: Arkham Asylum, anyone?) just to name a few, but this is A Sneakerhead’s Paradise, so you already know the angle we’re going to cover: sneakers!

Superhero Sneakers come in two primary flavors: the loosely inspired by, non-official approach, and then the direct licensed approach. A perfect example of this is the Incredible Hulk dunks. There was no official licensed collaboration with Marvel comics for this dunk. Heck, there isn’t even any purple in it to pay homage to the Hulk’s staple purple shorts, but the name just stuck because of the tone of green used.

These dunks were nicknamed the “Hulk” due to it’s aggressive green color blocking.

On the other side of things would be the Marvel Hulk x Bapesta, where iconic clothing line A Bathing Ape and Marvel collaborated for a sneaker with bright green and purple patent leather paneling and both a Marvel Comics and Hulk logo.


This rare and expensive collaboration is beloved by many.

The Doernbecher Jordan 4, one of the most beloved colorways for the iconic silhouette, is one of the more creative ways I’ve seen superhero love expressed through a shoe. The designer, Isaiah Scott, chose to swap the traditional Jumpman logo on the tongue for the classic Superman symbol, and bright green tones can be found all over the sneaker, which pays homage not only to Superman’s weakness of the fictional green rock kryptonite, but former NBA player Nate Robinson dunking over Dwight “Superman” Howard. What makes this all the more impressive is that Isaiah was just a child when designing the shoe!


The Doernbecher Jordan 4

The Doernbecher Jordan 4, one of the most beloved colorways for the iconic silhouette, is one of the more creative ways I’ve seen superhero love expressed through a shoe. The designer, Isaiah Scott, chose to swap the traditional Jumpman logo on the tongue for the classic Superman symbol, and bright green tones can be found all over the sneaker, which pays homage not only to Superman’s weakness of the fictional green rock kryptonite, but former NBA player Nate Robinson dunking over Dwight “Superman” Howard. What makes this all the more impressive is that Isaiah was just a child when designing the shoe!


The late, great Kobe Bryant paid a subtle tribute to The Joker, Batman’s archnemesis and unquestionably the most iconic supervillain of all time, with the “Chaos” themed Kobe V, where the purple and green color blocking pair with speckles of “blood” on the midsole as a nod and wink to the Clown Prince of Crime.


The Kobe V Proto "Chaos" pays subtle tribute to The Joker

Deadpool, Captain Marvel, and the King himself, Black Panther, can be seen on well received collaborations with Vans. Batman has multiple sneaker collabs that Caped Crusader fans love, such as the comic book panel-inspired collaboration with Converse. Heck, even lesser known heroes such as the Silver Surfer have sneakers. All in all, while some may argue that these usually colorful and loud collaborations may be more suitable for costumes on Halloween or children, it isn’t stopping adults from all walks of life from wanting a piece of their favorite heroes to wear on their feet.


What are your favorite superhero collaborations? I personally love the Doernbecher 4’s and the Black Panther Sk8 Hi’s, but perhaps the #1 sneaker I wish I owned was a customized pair of Thanos Lebron 13’s.


Do you own any pairs of superhero/villain themed sneakers yourself, or is that fashion kryptonite for you? Sound off in the comments below!

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