Welcome to our Colossus Movie Guide for Air. This guide contains everything you need to understand the film. Dive into our detailed library of content, covering key aspects of the movie. We encourage your comments to help us create the best possible guide. Thank you!
What is Air about?
Air looks back at one of the most pivotal moments in modern pop culture—Nike’s creation of the Air Jordan shoe and brand. Leaning heavily into its 1984 setting, Air plays the role of a time capsule that bridges the gap between then and now. Thematically, it explores confidence, decision making, and what it takes to be a game changer.
Movie Guide table of contents
- Sonny Vaccaro – Matt Damon
- Rob Strasser – Jason Bateman
- Howard White – Chris Tucker
- Phil Knight – Ben Affleck
- Peter Moore – Matthew Maher
- Deloris Jordan – Viola Davis
- Julius Tennon – James R. Jordan Sr.
- David Falk – Chris Messina
- George Raveling – Marlon Wayans
- Written by – Alex Convery
- Directed by – Ben Affleck
The themes and meaning of Air
Early in Air, there’s a scene where members of Nike’s basketball division look at the 1984 draft board and try to decide on three players to recruit. Rob Strasser asks everyone in the room what they think. No one answers. He keeps pushing and pressing. It’s painful. The answers he finally receives are half-baked and lack conviction. Finally, Sonny Vaccaro snaps, yells at the room, then leaves. Even though he didn’t speak up, he makes it clear he wants Jordan.
Later that night, Vaccaro convinces himself Jordan is the only answer. The next day, he begins a crusade to bring Jordan to Nike. It’s slow and difficult going, but Vaccaro eventually convinces Strasser, Nike CEO Phil Knight, and Howard White to join the cause. Each one plays a part. Including lead shoe designer Peter Moore.
The pitch that ends up winning Jordan over is based on the idea that a shoe is just a shoe until someone steps into it. Specifically, Michael. This is at odds with Converse and Adidas. Those companies both viewed their shoes as bigger than the individual. The athlete is lucky to be with them. Nike makes it clear that they’re lucky to have Michael Jordan. That when he wears this shoe that’s designed for him, that reflects him, it will mean something to the rest of the world.
This should be empowering for viewers. Of course, Jordan is this amazing, generational athlete. Most of us won’t be impactful on that level. But we all have a shoe waiting for us. A role that we need to step into. Our voice should be heard. If you’re living life like someone in that meeting, staying quiet, uninformed and uninspired, then the world is worse off. When you make the effort, like Sonny did, special things can happen.
Why is the movie called Air?
Air is a reference to Nike’s Air Jordan brand. It leaves off the “Jordan”.
A cynical reading of the missing “Jordan” would be that the film couldn’t get the rights to Jordan’s name or likeness. Even though Affleck had Jordan’s blessing to make Air, with Michael suggesting Viola Davis play his mother, it is strange that we never see him on-screen. There is a stand-in that represents Jordan in scenes. But Jordan isn’t a character with lines and development.
There is another reading. One of the ways Nike wins Jordan over is that they emphasize that the shoe is just a shoe until someone steps into it. Converse and Adidas emphasized the shoe over the individual. While Nike puts the individual over the shoe. This idea of the power of the individual goes beyond just Michael Jordan being an amazing talent and extends to the power of individuals in general. Like the way Sonny Vaccaro willed the deal with Jordan into existence. It was just an idea until someone stepped up. People make a difference. Each and every one of us has the power to “step into the shoe” and do something meaningful. In that way, the brand isn’t simply Air Jordan but Air [Insert Name].
Questions & answers about Air
Why didn’t Michael Jordan appear in the movie?
Even though it seems Affleck had Jordan’s blessing to make the movie, it’s possible Jordan didn’t want to allow the use of his likeness.
What’s more likely, though, is that, because the story is about Nike rather than Jordan, the filmmakers decided to limit Jordan’s presence. Otherwise, the narrative around the movie might focus on the actor playing Jordan, how Jordan was portrayed, etc. Honestly, Jordan’s so recognizable there’s a question of whether you can cast someone that audiences would accept, much less like.
Does Phil Knight’s autobiography go over the events of Air?
Shoe Dog primarily covers 1962 to 1980. Everything with Jordan happened in 1984. The final chapters do involve Jordan and have some reflection about him, but you don’t get a first-hand account from Phil Knight.
Despite that, I found Shoe Dog to be a very entertaining book and definitely worth the read.
Now it’s your turn
Have more unanswered questions about Air? Are there themes or motifs we missed? Is there more to explain about the ending? Please post your questions and thoughts in the comments section! We’ll do our best to address every one of them. If we like what you have to say, you could become part of our movie guide!