The impact Nike’s Air Jordans have had on our collective pop culture is unparalleled, with the shoes just as popular now as they were when they debuted in 1985. Roping Michael Jordan in was no small task, with the athlete only agreeing to license his name to Nike if it led to a fully custom-made shoe, designed for his unique foot size. At the time, and to this day, Jordan remains an enigma — one of the so-called “GOATS” of basketball.
Ben Affleck is right in suggesting that no actor could convincingly play one of the greatest athletes of all time. Bringing Jordan into the film would mean finding an actor who can replicate the athlete’s height, physical prowess and swagger — an emulation that feels all too daunting, especially for a near-mythical sports figure. A frequent criticism of biopics about widely-known figures is that they often reduce the protagonists to caricatures. Because Jordan is so revered, with his actions and mannerisms well-documented, casting an actor to play the superstar would just lead to poor emulation and imitation. While there’s certainly some flattery in that, it would also reduce the effectiveness of “Air” as a film.
“We felt a more interesting way to tell the story would be for him to exist in the ether of the movie,” Affleck told Bally Sports. “To be talked about by everyone but not seen is really analogous to the experience of celebrities and sports stars in modern life.”