ScreenRant is reporting on a popular fan theory arguing that Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer is secretly a sequel to the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and while the idea seems pretty absurd at first glance, it must be said that there’s an intriguingly loopy case to be made.
First, let’s look at the overall narratives of each film and the noteworthy ways in which they overlap. Both movies follow a group of people as they make their way through a fantastical and dangerous structure. In each case, members of the party are picked off one by one until a single person remains.
Once that person reaches the final room, it’s revealed that their whole journey was a twisted test conceived by a rich industrialist looking for a successor.
In the case of Willy Wonka, that lone survivor is Charlie Bucket, who stands to inherit the chocolate factory from Wonka. In Snowpiercer, meanwhile, Curtis Everett makes it to the end of the train, where transportation magnate Wilford gives him the opportunity to take over as caretaker of the engine.
These aren’t the only common elements you can find in the two movies, both of which also touch upon issues of economic disparity while using food as an ongoing motif. However, where the theory really begins to make its case that the two stories are connected is in the claim that Wilford and Charlie are, in fact, the same person.
As you may recall, Wonka’s factory operates in isolation from the outside world, suggesting, much like the train in Snowpiercer, that it may be completely self-sustaining. What’s more, we know that Wonka has a talent for creating unusual and experimental food and transportation, just like Wilford.
From here, the argument goes that Wonka passed his skills and knowledge on to his successor, Charlie, who used them to design the Snowpiercer train. It’s said that he even changed his named to Wilford in honor of his predecessor Willy.
Another alleged piece of evidence is Wilford’s habit of hiding messages in Curtis’ food in a manner similar to the golden tickets hidden in Wonka’s bars. What’s more, the theory points to Wilford’s claim that whatever kept his train’s engine running before he resorted to child labor “recently went extinct,” suggesting a potential nod to the child-sized Oompa Loompas who served as labor in Wonka’s factory.
So, did director Bong Joon-ho really intend for Snowpiercer to be an unofficial follow-up to one of the most beloved family films of the 1970s? Probably not, but it’s an entertaining and bizarrely well-reasoned theory regardless, even if it’s a little sad to imagine that little Charlie’s future would be so downright dystopian.