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Edgar and Curtis:
Gilliam and Wilford wanted Edgar and Curtis to take their respective places—Edgar in the back, Curtis in the front, to maintain the population the way they've done all those years.

The Snowpiercer is The Polar Express
Santa didn't have anything to do with the global ice age, but he still had his magic train. In a panic, he gathered refugees onto it but quickly became disgusted and embittered by the hellish conditions that overpopulation brought to the survivors. He shaved off his beard and became Wilford, but he still likes children. Kind of.
  • Oh, well connected! Maybe the children and nightclubbers are actually his elves!

Everything that's said about the world outside the train is a fabrication
The only information any of the passengers know about the outside world is what they see outside the windows and what they learn from Wilford. It's entirely possible that the train just circles the earth near one of the polar points, like across Canada and Sibera, pretending to snake around the rest of the earth. (There's plenty of landmass to do just that!) Wilford doesn't need the rest of humanity to die off in order to control the population on the train, he just needs them believe it has. The movie runs on Rule of Perception.
  • That would certainly explain what the polar bear is doing there. The polar bear couldn't have just sprung out of nowhere - it had to be surviving for those 17 years. And the fact that it managed to survive means a population of prey animals also survived, as did the plants ultimately needed to sustain those prey animals. None of that meshes with an atmosphere so cold it can freeze an arm solid in just 7 minutes - unless it's a trick
    • There's a couple other things to consider with the punishment scene. Before applying the torture, one of the attending guards mentions that at the altitude the train was travelling at, they'd only need seven minutes. Presumably, it was that combined with the windchill effect produced by the train's speed that caused the victim's arm to freeze solid. Similarly, at lower altitudes, it probably takes longer to freeze the limb in question, and they probably don't do it at such high altitudes all that often, as Mason shushes the translators when she's making her speech (saying that she's only got seven minutes when the translators are probably used to much longer intervals and just automatically repeat Mason's words in the appropriate languages).
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    • Perharps the cold didn't freeze the arm, but the lotion-like substance the attendant applied Andrew's arm before the torture. Maybe it was a version of CW-7, and the "arm in the hole" technique is just a ruse to reinforce the deception. Also, in the video shown in the classroom, young Wilford states "When I grow up, I want to live in a train forever". This definitely points to Wilford manipulating either a real or fake global freeze.
  • It's also rational to believe that the massive and killer freeze would be a big shock to the caste system outside - the people who are in power, but have all their wealth tied in useless stock and shares, land that is now frozen and industries that mean nothing after an apocalypse like entertainment and tourism. The train was the last of these caste systems left, which was why Wilson didn't want it to stop. The message of the movie still stands. It took the end of humanity AS WE KNOW IT, to break the perpetual engine that is the caste system.
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This movie takes place in the BioShock multiverse
  • Wilford is the man, the train is the city, and they departed from a now frozen and forgotten lighthouse near the Yekaterina Bridge.

Mason was a tail section passenger abducted as a child
and used as a part of the engine. Notice the repeated mechanical motions of her hands, like a piston retracting or a valve turning. She repeated that motion again and again until she grew out of the job. Her religious reverence of Wilford is possibly more than the brainwashing of a front section passenger. To the traumatized engine children, if they keep their minds at all, Wilford must be a god to whom they are literally mere cogs in a machine of his design. Following this theory, Wilford is the reason she lost her teeth and she has cause to ask Curtis to kill him.
  • She's too old. It's specifically stated in the movie that children of a certain size are used as machine parts, and that these kids are usually around or no older than five years of age. The Snowpiercer has been running on the tracks for eighteen years. If she was taken as a five year old and used as train parts, she could not be more than twenty-three years of age. It's also stated by Wilford that taking children from the tail section is a more recent practice, and that possibly Timmy and the other boy taken at the beginning of the film were the first "replacement parts". Mason must be in her forties or fifties in the film. Also, on one of the other pages it stated that Word of God says Mason was a cleaning lady from the tail section that was brought to the front and then eventually given the position she has now, much like the violin player who was recruited from the tail section in the start of the film. It could be she had a hand in cleaning the engine, which would explain the repetitive motions she uses, but she could not have ever been a "replacement part".
    • I agree she's too old, but they do imply that they have been using children as spare parts for at least a while, since they note how much Wilford loves children, something Gilliam repeats with a more disgusted tone. When I watched it I assumed they were alluding to something sexual, but after the ending it seems likely that he has been using them to replace engine parts until they age-out.
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Gilliam was never working with Wilford
The tail section passengers have next to no privacy. How exactly is Gilliam supposed to have secret phone conversations lasting for hours without anyone catching him or even overhearing him? Far more likely is that Wilford simply has his train bugged.

There are other survivors
The train was a ridiculously inefficient means of supporting a population. If Wilford could foresee the global cooling others would have and built arcologies, probably underground or something.

Gilliam and Wilford may have been working together, but Wilford never intended Curtis to replace him
There were just too many things that could have gone wrong for this to have been Wilford's true plan. Wilford needs to control every variable that he can - he would have had to instruct every single guard that Curtis was off-limits, and they all seemed pretty sincere in their efforts to kill him. Plus, even if Wilford had intended this, there's a pretty significant chance that Curtius could have caught a stray bullet (or slipped on a fish and fallen into an axe) during the coupe.

The CW-7 actually worked for the rest of the world; it was those living in the former arctic areas that got wiped out.

Several times in the movie we see large cities covered by snow. These cities look larger than most present day places at that latitude. Which means, that people took advantage of the new areas made habitable due to rising tempertures. When the CW-7 was used, it had the effect of making those areas drop to arctic temperatures once more, stranding people at those latitudes, with the only way to survive being on trains such as the Snowpiercer.

The W in CW-7 stands for Wilford.

Why, because Wilford created it and knew how it was going to work. Why else build a train that sucks up snow and converts it into drinking water if you weren't planning on there being a lot of it?

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and Snowpiercer take place in the same universe.
Humans launched the super atmospheric anti-freeze in a last-ditch effort to prevent any further climate change. The train was constructed as a refuge from both the unbearable climate and from AI takeover, thus no robots were invited on the train. Once the train crashes, all of humanity is wiped out, except for the two survivors, who die soon after—either from exposure or because that polar bear ate them. Two millennia later, the hyper-advanced AI are still living in a frozen world and searching to understand the secret greatness of the extinct human race.

Humanity survives the end of the movie.
As mutants after the Adam and Eve Plot ending.

This movie takes place in the same universe as Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEX52h1TvuA
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