The book and the film depict an odd Willy Wonka, a phoenix-like man arising from his creative and eccentric genius. He bewilders the other characters with his antics, but Charlie enjoys Mr. Wonka's behavior. In the 2005 film adaptation, Willy Wonka's behavior is viewed more as a sympathetic character flaw, but in the 1971 film adaptation, Wonka tells Charlie he "can't live forever", so he wanted to find a sweet child to who he could entrust his candy making secrets. He is also very clever.
1971 film adaptation
Candy-maker Willy Wonka hid five Golden Tickets amongst his famous "Wonka Bars". The finders of these special tickets would be given a full tour of his tightly guarded candy factory as well as a lifetime supply of chocolate. The contest set off a global craze, with everyone desperately seeking the tickets. They were eventually found by five children from around the world: Augustus Gloop from West Germany, Violet Beauregarde and Mike Teavee from the United States, and Veruca Salt and Charlie Bucket from the United Kingdom
Willy invited the children and their guardians into the factory, during which he gave them a tour of the factory. They soon came across Willy's chocolate river which Augustus started drinking out of (despite Willy's attempts to stop him) and ended up with Augustus falling into the river and through the chocolate pipe, eventually leading him to the fudge room which Willy sent Augustus' mother to so she could retrieve him.
After a terrifying boat ride, Willy took the party to the Inventing Room. The room is home to Wonka's new (and still insufficiently tested) candies, such as Everlasting Gobstoppers, exploding candy and Wonka's greatest idea so far, The Three-Course Dinner Chewing Gum. This gum is a three course dinner all in itself, "Tomato Soup, Roast Beef & Baked Potato, and the dessert, Blueberry Pie". However, once the chewer gets to the dessert, there is a side effect: they turn into a giant "blueberry". This is revealed when Violet ended up trying the gum, only to turn purple and become a giant blueberry, which led to her being subsequently taken to the Juicing Room to be squeezed before she explodes. The tour then left the Inventing Room to view the lick-able wallpaper and then into the bubble room where Fizzy Lifting Drinks are produced. Wonka refused to allow the children to sample some due to them being "still too powerful", but Charlie and Grandpa Joe disobeyed Wonka's directive rule and sample some; they floated to the ceiling and nearly get sucked into a turbine fan before burping back to the ground.
Next, the tour visited the room containing geese that lay golden chocolate eggs. Veruca Salt tried to take one for herself, singing her musical number "I want it Now!", but fell down the eggdicator and to the garbage chute. Her father followed her down the chute, both of them judged "bad eggs". The tour then rode the Wonkamobile through the factory while being sprayed by foam.
The tour then visited the television room where a television invention called Wonkavision produces unusually large chocolate bars into a picture on a television screen that the person at home can take out of the screen. Mike Teevee disobeyed Wonka's orders and allowed himself to be shrunken and put on television by the Wonka camera. To Mike and his Mum's horror, Wonka revealed that the damage done to Mike was unfixable and the only way to make him normal again was stretching him from the "Taffy puller".
When the tour was over, Wonka dismisses Grandpa Joe and Charlie without mentioning or awarding Charlie his lifetime supply of chocolate. He then disappeared into his office. When Charlie and Grandpa Joe entered his "half-office" and inquire him further about it, Willy Wonka informed them that Charlie broke the rules by sampling the fizzy lifting drinks without permission and as a result, he would not be awarded his prize. He then furiously dismissed them with a "good day sir!". Grandpa Joe attempted to suggest to Charlie that they give Slugworth the gobstopper in revenge, but Charlie refused and gave it back to Willy Wonka, apologising for what they did. Before Charlie could exit the office, Willy Wonka abruptly changed his attitude, informing Charlie that he "passed the test" and reinstated his prize. He then brought in Mr. Wilkinson - a man who posed as Wonka's rival, Arthur Slugworth, revealing that Mr. Wilkinson was in on the whole thing and that Wonka's rant was only a final test of character.
Wonka took Charlie and Grandpa Joe into the "Wonkavator" and they flew up out of the factory and over the city. On the Wonkavator, Wonka revealed to Charlie that the actual prize of the tour was not a life-time supply of chocolate, but the factory itself; Wonka needed an heir to take over his factory and take care of his candy-making secrets and Oompa Loompas when he retired. He informed an ecstatic Charlie that he and his family could move into the factory immediately. He then told Charlie to remember what happened to the man who got everything he wanted; "He lived happily ever after".
2005 film adaptation
Willy Wonka is portrayed by Johnny Depp in this remake. However, many changes were put into the character: He acts as like immature child because of his troubled childhood, and therefore shows a dislike for parents.
During his childhood, Willy was the son of his hometown's local dentist, Wilbur Wonka. This unfortunately made Willy not allowed to eat Chocolate and he eventually ran away from home, later starting up his chocolate business from a single shop to a gigantic factory. However, he later dismissed all of his workers after spies began infiltrating his factory to steal his secret recipes, though chocolate seemed to still come out of his factory. This was through his new employees, the Oompa Loompas.
One day, Willy informed the world of a contest, in which five Golden Tickets had been placed in five random Wonka Bars worldwide, and the winners would be given a full tour of the factory as well as a lifetime supply of chocolate, while one ticket holder would be given a prize at the end of the tour. After all five of the tickets were found, Willy greeted Charlie and the other ticket holders outside the factory and led the group into the facility.
Throughout the movie, Willy had flashbacks to his troubled childhood.
During the tour, each of the bad children disobeyed his orders with something related to their individual character flaws. Augustus began to drink the chocolate river until he overbalanced and fell into the river and was sucked into a pipe. After a fast boat ride, the tour then progressed to the Inventing Room, where Violet chewed on an experimental piece of gum against Wonka's orders. She then transformed into a large blueberry. Later on Veruca wanted to buy a squirrel from the Nut Room and when Wonka and her father refused to get her one, she went into the room herself. But when she tried to grab a squirrel, all of the squirrels teamed up and threw her down the chute, and then later sent her father down the chute as well.
Later on, the last two kids, Mike Teavee and Charlie Bucket, entered the Great Glass Elevator with him, and Mike picked the Television room. Once there, Willy demonstrated his latest invention, Television Chocolate, which was seemingly impossible as he clearly had no clue about how science and television work. When Mike tried to teach him the basics, he dismissed it as mumbling. He then proceeded to send a large bar of chocolate from one end of the room to another on a TV Screen. While the group were impressed by what Willy had done, Mike was surprised when Willy dismissed any other suggestions to send through the teleporter and replies (while smiling a little), "Don't you even realize what you've invented? It's a teleporter. It's the most important invention in the history of the world. And all you ever think about is Chocolate."
Mike then teleported himself through the teleporter and got shrunken to a few inches. As a result, Charlie was the only child left on the tour.
Willy then travelled with Charlie and Grandpa Joe to Charlie's house and met the family via the Great Glass Elevator. He also revealed that the purpose of the Golden Tickets and the tour was to make the "least rotten" child the heir of the factory itself, so he could have someone carry on his legacy when he got too old to do so himself, and requested that Charlie come live and work in the factory with him. The only condition, however, was that Charlie must leave his family behind, since Willy saw family as a hindrance to a chocolatier's creative freedom (which later was revealed to be because of how his own Dad treated him). However, Charlie rejected the offer if it meant leaving his family. After some time of Willy's chocolate sales declining, Charlie helped Willy reunite and reconcile with his Dad. After this, Willy offered again to have Charlie work with him at the factory on the condition that Charlie brought along his family, which Willy accepted.