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There are two Snowpiercer titles on Netflix: Snowpiercer the movie, and Snowpiercer the series. Confused yet?
Bong Joon-Ho, the same director of the critically-acclaimed film, Parasite, took charge of the 2013 graphic novel-based movie, Snowpiercer. The latest adaption of Snowpiercer is a 2020 series from TNT, and it doesn’t share many similarities with its predecessor.
The TV show and film are each set aboard a massive train that traverses any icy, post-apocalyptic globe. The train separates the passengers by class, with the wealthy people at the front, and the poor at the back, providing the perfect conditions for a revolt.
Although both adaptions share the same premise, the similarities end there. The series makes some major changes to the movie’s original story, which we’ve outlined below.
The Main Character
In the Snowpiercer movie, Chris Evans plays our protagonist, Curtis, who strives to move from the ramshackle rear of the train to the front, where only the most elite and wealthy passengers reside.
TNT’s Snowpiercer replaces Curtis with Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs), an ex-homicide detective living in squalor at the back of the train.
The Snowpiercer film is centered on Curtis spurring an uprising, and getting justice for his fellow oppressed passengers. It focuses on the thrilling journey to the front of the train, all while addressing a theme of class conflict. The film is fast-paced and action-packed, something that the series doesn’t take after.
Instead, TNT’s version creates a brand new plot, and drags it out over the course of several episodes. Layton is forced back into his mystery-solving roots after the train’s head of hospitality, Melanie, asks Layton to lead the investigation of two murders on the train. The series quickly makes the transition from a murder mystery to a story of revolt, as the tail-end passengers prepare to overthrow the elite.
Both Snowpiercer adaptions take place in different timelines. The film is set in the year 2031, 17 years following the start of the man-made ice age. That means the train has been running for almost two decades, giving the revolution plenty of time to stew.
On the other hand, the TV series takes place in 2021, only seven years since the train left the station, and one decade before the events of the movie. Unlike the film, the series gives us a closer glimpse at how passengers got on the train in the first place.
The Mystery of Mr. Wilford
Wilford is the mysterious train creator, who takes on almost a mythical role. In the movie, Wilford’s identity isn’t revealed until the very end. The entire story builds up to the moment when Curtis can finally confront the man who has put a divide between the rich and poor.
The series tells you the identity of Wilford in the very first episode. In the brief period that you don’t know who Wilford is, you’ll only know that he speaks through the aforementioned Melanie. Despite the fact that the show spoils this information rather quickly, there are still more twists to come.
We won’t spoil what happens at the end of the Snowpiercer movie, but we will tell you about the way it ends. The film reaches a satisfactory conclusion that gives us hope for the passengers on the train. It doesn’t end on a huge cliffhanger, which is made obvious by the fact that there was never any sequel.
TNT’s Snowpiercer doesn’t have an ending just yet—it manages to keep the train and the story moving, as the show has already been approved for a second season. Having so many episodes allows for deeper exploration into Snowpiercer‘s characters and themes.
Should You Watch the Snowpiercer Movie or TV Series First?
While the Snowpiercer series takes place before the film, you don’t have to watch it first to understand the story better. In fact, it’s best if you watch the movie first so you can get an idea of the overarching story before you invest hours into the series.
If you need a break from the dark themes in Snowpiercer, check out these positive Netflix shows that will instantly brighten your day.