Why You Won't See A Movie Villain Using An iPhone

Though some movies make it clear who the antagonist is from the start, they aren't all so obvious — particularly if you're watching a thriller or mystery that depends on keeping the villain a secret until the big twist toward the end of the film. As it turns out, there's a pretty solid way to tell who is and isn't the villain from the start of a movie, assuming the story is set in modern times and the characters use smartphones.

The secret involves the technology the characters use, namely Apple products. The company keeps the use of its laptops and smartphone under strict control, meaning that while any character may be seen using an Android handset, only certain roles can utilize an iPhone — something we've heard before and that is unlikely to change at any point in the near future. Go ahead, think hard: which movie characters do you remember using an iPhone? We're guessing they all have one very big thing in common.

The iPhone is only used by the good guys

If you haven't come across a mainstream movie villain rocking an iPhone, iPad, and/or a Mac computer, it's no coincidence. That's a strict marketing tactic from Apple intended to preserve its brand image and maintain a favorable perception of its products among the masses. This is no conspiracy theory, mind, as the secret was spilled by none other than director Rian Johnson, who directed films like "Looper," "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," and the Netflix whodunnit smash-hit "Knives Out." 

While breaking down a scene from the Chris Evans-starred murder mystery in a Vanity Fair video, Johnson divulged that Apple doesn't allow filmmakers to put any of its products in the hands of a movie baddie or his henchmen. The antagonists can't be shown with an Apple product in their hands, the director said. He was initially reluctant to share the secret and later added that every filmmaker out there now wants to "murder" him for letting such a big secret out. Go ahead and try to recollect from memory a cinematic bad guy rocking one of Apple's latest iPhones or a shiny Mac that will help them achieve some nefarious goal — you won't find any.

It goes without saying that if you still haven't seen "Knives Out," you should expect this secret will spoil the movie for you. As you guessed, the film's antagonist is not seen using an iPhone while other characters are, so it's pretty easy to figure out which of the suspects is the one you should keep an eye on.

It's all about the brand image

Apple's reluctance to keep its products from appearing in the hands of a villainous character is not surprising, considering the brand has always tried to maintain a squeaky clean image by steering clear of any controversy. However, Apple likes to put its coolest gadgets in the hands of good guys. As pointed out by this Wired article from 2002, the hit thriller show "24" had all the good fellas rocking a Mac to carry out their missions. Apple is pretty adamant about it and has even drafted a legal framework for content depicting its intellectual property — that is, the products sold by the company. "The Apple product is shown only in the best light, in a manner of context that reflects favorably on the Apple products or Apple Inc.," says one of its clauses. 

However, Apple doesn't actually shy away from some positive exposure on the screen. In the second season of the hit show "Big Little Lies," Apple products like iPads, iPhones, and Macs grabbed a massive share of screen time at 13 minutes, which is a lot more than its second-placed Buick. It also eclipses other names like Audi, Tesla, and Dell. In Rian Johnson's "Knives Out," a majority of the characters can be seen rocking an iPhone, save for the antagonist played by Chris Evans.

Of course, that doesn't mean that every good guy will use an iPhone, so the secret won't necessarily help you spot which characters you should be rooting for. For example, many fans were surprised to see that James Bond used multiple different Nokia phones in the movie "No Time to Die" rather than Apple's smartphone, though that was for a good reason — experts suggested an iPhone wouldn't have been the ideal choice for a spy who needed to avoid tracking and other potentially problematic tech features the average person can freely enjoy (via Wired).