Tony Stark, leader of the Marvel’s technological revolution and freaking Iron Man, uses a Vivo V3—a mid-range phone available exclusively in China. According to Geek, he uses it because Chinese audiences love Marvel movies (bullshit Dr. Strange casting aside), and Marvel loves targeted product placement.
I will admit that I did not pay attention to what kind of phone Tony Stark used in Captain America: Civil War. Which is a shame, because noting the tech characters use is a major hobby of mine (please do not judge me for my knowledge of Jane Fonda’s iPhone 5c in Grace and Frankie). But I didn’t pay attention to Tony Stark’s phone because I figured it was a prop phone meant to sub in for “Stark Tech.”
I mean the guy regularly interacts with holograms and builds super suits in his basement. He’s not going to use an off-the-shelf iPhone or Samsung Galaxy—although he did use co-branded Stark/LG tech in earlier Iron Man flicks.
Yet I was totally wrong guys, because Geek, with an assist from PC Mag, says Tony Stark uses the Vivo V3.
The Vivo V3 retails for about $270 with a five-inch screen or $360 for the five-and-a-half inch V3Max. That’s half the price of most American phones and on par for phones from Vivo’s parent company BBK Electronics: specifically Oppo and OnePlus. But Vivo only sells its devices in China so it’s not currently available in the US—though it’s popular enough in China to snag a 2.7 percent portion of the global market share.
So why is Tony using a mid-level consumer phone from China when he’s supposed to be the largest and most bad ass tech developer in the world (outside of Wakanda)? Geek suggests it’s because of product placement for Chinese markets. In the last few years the American industry has increasingly focused on international film markets—and China, with the largest film going population outside of the US, is super attractive. While I wouldn’t put “white guy using an alright Chinese phone” at the same level as “film actually casting Chinese people to play Chinese characters because Chinese people are like everyone else and want to see themselves represented in film,” it’s still a nice nod for Chinese audiences.
Personally, I’m still banking on it being because the prop department didn’t want to build a whole new phone. But I’m probably wrong.
Correction (5/11/16 8:45 EST): Tony Stark does not use a Vivo V3 as our story suggests. He uses a transparent Vivo concept phone.