“I just assumed it was a given that he would be wearing the Chicagos in the game,” explains David MacMullen, a sneakerhead and reseller who runs the secondhand retail shop We Got Grails. “It was just such a disappointment. Everyone likes that shoe and was hoping he would wear them.” David points out that when Nike released its special-edition Spider-Verse Jordan in honor of the movie, it was an enormous hit, and still sells for upwards of $1,100 on the resale market today. But when Adidas put out the red-and-black Superstar from the video game last month, David says, “no one cared.” It didn’t sell out; you can still buy them on the Adidas site right now. “I don’t think anybody saw that shoe in the game and thought, Yo, I can’t wait to get that,” he says.
But for the developers, creating a version of Miles Morales that felt unique was much more important than simply pleasing fans of the movie. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse are both adaptations of the same comic-book source material, but they don’t necessarily have to overlap. “What we wanted to do was tell our own story, and it was really important that we stand on our own, rather than just make Into the Spider-Verse: The Video Game,” says Gavin Goulden, art director at Insomniac Games. “I’ve watched the movie a million times, but we didn’t draw direct inspiration from it. And when we did the outfits, we wanted to distinguish him. He’s our character.”
Tim Tsang, creative director at Marvel Games, says Marvel encouraged Insomniac to “chart their own path” and approach the character in a new way. “We love Into the Spider-Verse. It’s a fantastic movie,” he says. “But our north star is to look at the source material, which in this case is the comics. We believe that when you do that, and you put your own spin on it, that’s where you find the magic.” Tsang explains that the “new and fresh” look for Miles was still ultimately about looking hip. “You look at this character and you think, Dang, this guy has style,” he says.
The actual red-and-black Superstar was the brainchild of Frankie Perez, a concept artist for Marvel Games, and Eric Monacelli, director of production on Miles Morales and a Marvel Games project lead. They felt that Miles should have “clear hobbies and interests” as a character, and that his fashion choices should spring from what he loves, such as music.
It’s worth noting that for Monacelli, having Miles wear Adidas Superstars doesn’t necessarily mean he’s spurned his Jordan 1s. “The Superstar is a classic, iconic silhouette made lasting and timeless in NYC fashion via hip-hop and rap communities. The Air Jordan 1 is a classic, iconic silhouette made ultra-popular by a sports megastar,” he says. “Like any sneakerhead, Miles would be keeping up with multiple brands and have multiple silhouettes in his closet for the various fits he’d want to wear.” This seems like the most plausible explanation for why a character known for donning one iconic sneaker might be seen wearing a different brand: It’s all part of the rotation. Right now he’s wearing Superstars. Tomorrow he may be in Jordans once more.