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Here’s How SNOWPIERCER Is a Sequel to WILLY WONKA

Attention, armchair fan theorists, it’s time to break out the tinfoil hats and start tying long pieces of string to pushpins on an increasingly disheveled looking bulletin board! Today we’re looking at the idea that Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho’s sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer, a movie about class warfare aboard a supertrain going around the world in endless circles, is actually a stealthy sequel to that 1971 Gene Wilder-starring classic, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Now I know what you’re thinking. This all sounds like a bad acid trip. But come with me and you’ll see a world of pure explanation as we break down this bonkers fan theory on The Dan Cave.

First posited by comedian Kevin Maher and expanded upon by YouTuber RhinoStew, this theory sounds more ridiculous at first blush than the notion that schnozzberries taste like schnozzberries. But they lay out a pretty compelling case for how the 1971 musical fantasy about an eccentric candy magnate and a 2013 post-apocalyptic thriller about people living on a high-speed train are actually connected.

Both films are explorations of class structure, free will, and the notion of destiny. They both take place in a world starkly divided along economic lines and paint a bleak picture of class struggle. Charlie Bucket’s family is so poor that all of his grandparents sleep in the same giant bed. Curtis and his fellow impoverished residents of Snowpiercer’s caboose live in squalid conditions, working brutal hours and subsisting on gelatinous protein bars rather than sweet, delicious chocolate.

Image: Warner Bros.

Image: CJ Entertainment

Or as Rhino Stew succinctly summarized it: “Both films are about a group of people who work their way through a fantastic structure full of unseen perils. One by one, someone is removed in each room until one person makes it to the very end. The last survivor then finds out that the entire thing was a test because a wealthy industrialist needed to find a new successor.”

Whereas Maher points to the film’s thematic similarities, Rhino Stew takes it one step further by positing that the two are directly connected. The theory claims that Charlie Bucket, the lovable and fresh-faced scamp who inherits Willy Wonka’s expansive candy empire grow up to become Wilford, the inventor of the titular supertrain in Snowpiercer.

Image: Warner Bros.

Image: CJ Entertainment

In the years since he flew off into the sky in Willy Wonka’s fabulous glass elevator, Charlie has reinvented himself in the tradition of his kooky mentor. The theory supposes that he has adopted the name Wilfred—perhaps what Willy was short for—and continues to brand everything in his sprawling corporate kingdom with a giant W. Most importantly, as the theory notes, he tries to uphold his predecessor’s ideals of decadence and imagination.

By 2014, Charlie, now Wilfred, has transformed Wonka’s candy company into one of the most powerful businesses on the planet. When the world governments release the gas known as CW-7 to try and cool the planet to counteract global warming, he was uniquely suited to respond due to his experience with chemistry. Yeah, remember that? I didn’t either, but it adds up. More importantly, Wilfred was able to create the Snowpiercer because he had been preparing to do so his entire life.

Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory wasn’t just a state of the art food production facility; it was also a hub for experimental modes of transportation like that LSD boat, the weird bicycle car, and even the glass elevator. More importantly, the factory is completely sealed off from the outside world, which means that Charlie/Wilfred had the technology to create a self-sufficient, mobile food factory capable of sustaining itself and others for years to come. Unfortunately, the stress of most of mankind going extinct drove Charlie/Wilfred slightly insane, which would explain some of the extreme measures he took to ensure the survival of the human race.

Image: Warner Bros.

Image: CJ Entertainment

Just as Willy Wonka hid his golden tickets in his chocolate bar to impel young Charlie to action, Wilfred hid a message in a protein block to lead Curtis to him. Once the adventures begin, the heroes learn some truths about the secret ingredients that are hard to swallow. For example, Willy Wonka uses shoes in his candy, and the Snowpiercer train grinds up tons and tons of cockroaches to make the protein bricks they feed to the poor.

Both Willy Wonka and Wilford used spies, too. Wonka’s righthand man Mr. Wilkinson moonlighted as the slimy Arthur Slugworth in an effort to deceive Charlie, and Wilford’s closest ally Gilliam deceived Curtis by fomenting revolution at the back of the train to reduce the population to sustainable levels. Taking things one horrifying step further, Rhino Stew theorizes that Gilliam is actually Wilkinson himself, on in years.

Charlie and Wilkinson aren’t the only characters that the theory claims are familiar faces from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory either. In what is admittedly a huge leap of faith, the theory posits that Wilfred’s gun-toting assassin is the grown-up version of gun-toting, television-obsessed child Mike Teavee; Tilda Swinton’s crazy, authority-loving bureaucrat Minister Mason is actually Veruca Salt whose near-death encounter in the garbage chute left her traumatized and deeply grateful to Wilford/Charlie for saving her life; based on her combination of unsettling appetite, body type, and love of sticky-sweet substances, the Childcatcher is Augustus Gloop’s daughter. No word on Violet Beauregard, though.

Image: Warner Bros.

Image: CJ Entertainment

By this point you’re probably saying, “Yes, yes, this is all well and good, but what about the Oompa Loompas?” Indeed! What of everyone’s favorite indentured candy-servants with perfectly coordinated, moralizing songs about the mistakes of children who may or may not be in the process of suffering a horrific candy-related death?

Well, I’ve got some bad new for you Loompatics—they went extinct. Whether it was the rapid cooling of the planet or the fact that they seemingly had no capacity for reproduction, the Oompa Loompas died, which left Wilford with a problem. If you recall in Snowpiercer, the train is operated by people who are very small in stature.

Oompa Loompas went extinct somehow, and Wilfred Wonka needed the next best thing to keep his perpetual motion engine running: children. Speaking of children, that reminds me of another similarity between the two movies. Both Charlie and Curtis ate something they shouldn’t have. Charlie had some Fizzy Lifting Drink and Curtis…well…he ate something else:

GIF: fyeahsnowpiercer.tumblr.com

But while Willy accepts Charlie’s offer to take over the chocolate factory, Curtis rejects Wilford’s offer of taking over the Snowpiercer, and he crashes the train, burning down the system. But then, as Kevin Maher eloquently put it, “Both movies end with a hug and the notion that the children will carry on the future for us.”

Image: Warner Bros.

Image: CJ Entertainment

So, is it a perfect theory? No, of course not. No fan theory really is. But are there a startling amount of similarities and some fun ways to draw connections between the two? You bet your candy-loving butt there are.

But what do you think of this fan theory? Do you buy it or do you think the creators are full of more hot air than Charlie and Grandpa Joe after chugging that Fizzy Lifting Drink? Let me know in the comments below.

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