Those who subscribe to the theory, first posited by YouTuber Rhino Stew in 2018, believe the creator of the train is Charlie, the young boy who inherited Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory after becoming the only child to make it through a full tour without being taken over by greed. Both of these stories share some strong themes and there is one, unanswered question in Snowpiercer that ties the whole thing together: Who — or what — once powered the train?
When Charlie inherited the chocolate factory from Wonka, he also became the owner of everything inside: Candy, machines, vehicles and perhaps even Wonka’s name. The creator of the train in Snowpiercer is Wilford, which is very similar to “Willy.” Wonka is shown to have some pretty advanced transportation; his Wonkamobile is just one example and it has a giant ‘W’ right on the front. This symbol is a sort of trademark for the chocolatier. If Charlie changed his name, he would be able to keep this trademark logo and it would make sense that any inventions created later would sport the well known ‘W,’ just like the train.
The Snowpiercer train runs on the principle that its engine creates heat and this will keep the train warm enough to keep people alive. The train and chocolate factory are both self-sufficient: “Nobody ever goes in. Nobody ever comes out.” This line from Willy Wonka is obviously about the factory, but the same could be said about the train. The whole point of Snowpiercer is that the train can never stop, not to let anyone on or off. If Wonka — and later, Charlie — can run a closed ecosystem in a factory, it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to believe he could do it on a train.
Both stories also use food to send messages. Willy Wonka uses his chocolate to send out golden tickets in order to gather a group for his factory tour. This tactic is then used in Snowpiercer when Curtis, the protagonist, receives messages in his food. Willy Wonka shows how those with money are able to purchase more chances to win a ticket, buying up all the chocolate they can. Snowpiercer has a similar food distribution problem. The lower-class citizens don’t receive the food they need while the upper-class live in luxury.
One of the most memorable elements of Willy Wonka is the characters. As this movie was targeted towards children, it was quite a shock when they seemed to ‘disappear.’ None of the children in the factory were killed — probably. However, they were eliminated one by one as they traveled through the factory, similar to the way the party in Snowpiercer is eliminated as they travel through the train.
Rhino Stew’s theory goes on to claim that, in addition to Charlie, some other characters form these movies are the same. Franco the Elder and Mike Teevee are both sharpshooters with a love of guns and violence. Claude and Augustus Gloop are both shown to have poor impulse control and eat things that shouldn’t be eaten. It’s possible these characters are not just mirrors, but the one and the same.
The last and most compelling connectio is the question of who was supposed to run the train in the fist place. Snowpiercer ends when Curtis reaches the front of the train and learns it must be powered by someone small, like a child. He is told that this wasn’t always the case and that what was originally running the train went “extinct” recently. Something small and scarce was originally powering the train, something that knew how to run engines and power machines. Something like the people driving the wacky vehicles in Wonka’s factory. This theory implies it was the Oompa Loompas from Wonka’s factory that were powering the train and who eventually went extinct and had to be replaced with the train’s children.
While the evidence in this fan theory is compelling, there are some ideas that don’t quite match up. For example, while there are some similarities between the characters in Snowpiercer and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, these are pretty surface details.
Furthermore, Charlie is given the opportunity to make a lot of money with the deal offered to him by Mr. Slugworth, for getting him an Everlasting Gobstopper. Charlie is the only child to refuse the deal, which was a trick to begin with. Willy Wonka was looking for a selfless child to take over his factory and Charlie proved to be just that — which pokes some holes in the idea that he created the train.
Snowpiercer probably isn’t a sequel to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, despite their similarities.
A 2018 fan theory posits that Snowpiercer is a sequel to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and some of the evidence is compelling.