Why You'll Never See A Movie Villain Using An iPhone

Daniel Mitchell-Benoit
The glass front of an Apple store with the logo sign, two people standing behind it.
Unsplash | Zhiyue

Apple has spent its entire lifespan refining its image into what it is today. They're the peak of modern technology, the brand people look to for the future of everyday tech.

Some of the tactics they used to ensure that image are pretty out there, though, and today we'll be diving into one of the many clauses they have that keep them in good standing.

If you look close, you might be able to see a pattern in the shows you watch.

An array of Apple tech products.
Unsplash | Julian O'hayon

Namely when it comes to the tech used by the characters. We've all spotted brands being hidden (no free advertising, of course), but have you ever realized that there's never been a villain using an Apple product, even a masked one?

This is no coincidence.

A hand holding an iPhone, showing off the home screen.
Unsplash | Bagus Hernawan

Apple does not allow filmmakers to let their movie antagonists use iPhones, or any Apple product for that matter.

This industry secret was first revealed by Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Knives Out director Rian Johnson while speaking to Vanity Fair.

It's a clause that comes in their usage rights contract.

"Apple… they let you use iPhones in movies but — and this is very pivotal if you’re ever watching a mystery movie — bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera," Johnson said.

As he mentioned, this can be detrimental to certain films.

Someone taking a picture on an iPhone.
Unsplash | Charlotte Butcher

It's easy to spot when one character isn't using an iPhone when everyone else is, meaning the secret bad guy can be spotted by viewers.

"Every single filmmaker that has a bad guy in their movie that's supposed to be a secret wants to murder me right now," he joked after sharing the info.

This image concern is baked right into their trademarks too.

The glass front of an Apple store with the logo sign, two people standing behind it.
Unsplash | Zhiyue

It explicitly states that Apple products are to be shown "in the best light, in a manner or context that reflects favorably on the Apple products and on Apple Inc."

It's an almost dystopian way for a company to manipulate its public image.

The back of a matte black iPhone.
Unsplash | Miguel Tomás

I get wanting your brand to look good, but this feels pretty drastic, not to mention how stifling it can be for creators.

Apple, we promise you, one bad guy using an iPhone won't make you go bankrupt. Sometimes the bad guy is the cooler character anyway.