The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory prequel Wonka is getting released in 2023 with Tom Holland or Timothee Chalamet rumored to star, and the news isn't sitting very well at all with many fans of the original movie. In 1971, Gene Wilder famously starred as the purple-suited chocolate salesman in the original movie adaptation Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. His performance is considered iconic, and for a lot of people, nobody else could ever convincingly play the character after Wilder previously set the bar so high.
"Any willy wonka who isn't gene wilder doesn't exist to me," one tweet reads.
"Nobody will ever hold a candle to Gene Wilder's Wonka, there's just no point in even trying," another similarly says.
Another pessimistic fan writes on Twitter, "Both [Holland and Chalamet] need to just say no, publicly, saying 'no one can ever live up to Gene Wilder and this us unnecessary' and kill the project. Now."
Other fans are not very enthused to see an origin story for Willy Wonka for storyline purposes, as delving into the backstory of such a mysterious character only cheapens how interesting he is. Says one fan, "Yes, Gene Wilder was perfect. But I think the bigger discussion is that the more you explain Willy Wonka, the less interesting he becomes as a character. Willy Wonka should have no prequel, no explanation, no motivation. He is an absolute mystery, which lends him power."
Someone that's getting lost in the shuffle here is Johnny Depp, who also provided a much-different portrayal of Wonka in Tim Burton's 2005 adaptation Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. Of course, there are some diehard fans of the Wilder version that never did come to accept the Burton movie, having written off Depp's performance many years ago. Still, there are also many of Depp's fans coming out to praise his version of Willy Wonka with so much criticism flying around on social media.
"Sorry I had to say this, but I count Johnny Depp as the best Willy Wonka in the world, and in fact, Johnny Depp is my Willy Wonka, and that's that!" tweets one big Depp fan.
Another ponders, "Did Johnny Depp not give us a good and accurate Willy Wonka film not too long ago or am I missing something???"
In any case, the fan response to Wonka getting its release date along with rumors of potential casting choices likely isn't what Warner Bros. was expecting. With so much backlash already surrounding the movie two years ahead of its release, the pressure is going to be even higher for director Paul King to deliver a movie that fans will accept. It might prove to be an uphill battle, but as Burton's movie with Depp in the lead role was a big financial success, there's certainly potential for Wonka to strike big at the box office as well.
Whether the movie will star Holland, Chalamet, or someone else entirely, Wonka is scheduled to be released in theaters by Warner Bros. on March 17, 2023.