words // Brandon Richard
With the excitement surrounding Nike's teased 2011 release of the Nike Air Mag, it's easy to forget that the 1989 film predates a large portion of the sneaker community. Sure, the Air Mag's unique colorway and futuristic design make it an instant head-turner, but knowing the history of the shoe will help everybody understand why the world is absolutely buzzing about what's going down in Los Angeles later tonight.
We start with the Back to the Future film series, which debuted on the silver screen in 1985. The Robert Zemeckis-directed and Steven Spielberg-produced film starred Michael J. Fox as the main protagonist and Christopher Lloyd as the high energy and peculiar scientist "Doc" Emmett Brown. Doc creates a time machine that mistakenly zaps Marty into the 1950s, where he inadvertently interferes with the budding relationship of his would-be parents. As a result, Marty must now fix his parents' relationship, or he'll cease to exist in the 1980s. Heavy stuff. That sets up a plot for the time-traveling adventures that are now known as the Back to the Future Trilogy.
The Nike Air Mag, however, was not introduced into the series until the second film. After the success of the original flick, Back to the Future II premiered in the United States on November 22, 1989. With a budget of $40 million, the movie grossed more than $330,000,000 worldwide, making it the 12th highest grossing film ever at the time.
Within four minutes of the sequel, Doc Brown has whisked away Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer to the year 2015 to avoid a series of events that he says could do irreparable damage to the McFly name. Upon arrival, Doc hypnotizes Jennifer and leaves her incapacitated in an alley, while he and Marty look into a conflict involving teen rogue Griff Tannen and the future Marty McFly Jr. Griff, the cybernetically-enhanced grandson of the first film's main antagonist Biff Tannen, is recruiting Marty's son to participate in a robbery at a local hangout. Doc explains to Marty that the proposed robbery will not only result in the arrest of Marty Jr., but also the arrest of his sister Marlene McFly when she tries to break him out, thus changing the dynamic of the McFly family forever.
To foil Griff's plan, Marty changes places with his son and turns down the robbery offer. However, a displeased Griff won't take no for an answer and engages in a fight with Marty. To escape, Marty runs out of the establishment and borrows a Mattel Hoverboard from a young girl passing by. Powered by his auto-laced Air Mag shoes, Marty leads Griff and his gang on a hoverboard chase across town, which ultimately results in Griff and the crew crashing into the front of Courthouse Mall where they are arrested. Doc and Marty were successful in altering the future.
The Air Mag is a shoe that remains ahead of its time today. Light-up features and an automatic lacing system are still concepts that seem out of the realm of possibility in a modern market. However, with Nike and the legendary Tinker Hatfield set to make an announcement surrounding the shoe tonight, it appears that nothing is impossible and that we are living in 2015.
Relive Marty McFly's moments in the Nike Air Mag by watching the two video clips below. The first is a shorter clip that shows Marty stepping into the self-lacing sneakers for the very first time. Follow that up by checking out the full Marty vs. Griff & Goons hoverboard chase scene from Back to the Future II.
Marty Steps Foot Into the Nike Air Mag for the First Time (:12)
Full Hoverboard Scene (5:17)