Denis Villeneuve’s Dune was nothing short of sublime. It is a near-perfect adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel that many believed was impossible to adapt to screen because of its rich world-building. Villeneuve’s Dune manages to achieve the rare feat of appeasing pre-existing fans of the books as well as pulling in a new set of viewers. And much to everyone’s excitement, the spice is finally flowing, and shooting on Dune: Part II will start in July.
“It was a dream of mine to adapt Frank Herbert’s Dune, and I have the fans, the cast, and crew, Legendary, and Warner Bros. to thank for supporting this dream. This is only the beginning,” said Villeneuve after the sequel got greenlit. In a reassuring statement, he further added, “The thing that helps us right now is that it’s the first time I’ve revisited a universe. So I’m working with the same crew, everybody knows what to do, we know what it will look like. The movie will be more challenging, but we know where we are stepping. And the screenplay is written. So I feel confident.”
Even though Villeneuve expressed doubts about the pandemic causing possibly unforeseen delays, we do know we are getting part two. So let’s delve into everything we know about Dune: Part II so far.
Dune II: The Plot
While the first part beautifully sets up the history and politics of Dune, the story ends on a cliffhanger. Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), join the Fremen in their fight to bring peace to Arrakis. On their way to the home of the Fremen, Paul spots a Fremen member riding a sandworm, something he eventually learns to do himself.
Villeneuve always planned to split the 800-page novel into two parts. It was the part of the deal between Legendary and Warner Bros. that made Villeneuve come on board. He told IndieWire he chose to end part one where Paul joins the Fremen because it would keep audiences hankering for more:
“If you look at Paul’s trajectory, which is a boy that is trying to find his place in the world and at the end becomes finally an adult by being able to step in front, it’s a very important moment in a young man’s life to stake his ground. Paul’s arc is complete for that first part. Now the fact that people are coming out saying, ‘I wanted more,’ is a total victory!”
Dune: Part II will focus on Paul’s rise to power and the subsequent rebellion against the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV. Paul will adopt the name Muad’Dib, the Fremen name for the resilient desert mouse Paul and his mother encounter on their way to finding the Fremen. The sequel will introduce Princess Irulan, eldest daughter of the Emperor and Anirul, another member of the mysterious matriarchal order, Bene Gesserit, like Lady Jessica. Paul enters into a political marriage with Princess Irula. She happens to be the book’s narrator and a key character kept out of the first film, which mainly focused on House Atreides, the Bene Gesserit, and Paul’s introduction to the world outside his home planet, Caladan.
Zendaya, who plays Fremen warrior Chani and Paul’s love interest, may have had only seven minutes of screen time in the first film, but she will play a more prominent part in the sequel. Apart from a lot more Zendaya, expect a lot more of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) along with House of Harkonnen and the Fremen in the sequel. The film will also introduce Feyd-Rautha, heir to the House of Harkonnen and the younger nephew of Baron Vladimir. The role was played by rocker Sting in the 1984 David Lynch adaptation, which was panned for being quite a disaster.
The sequel will chart Paul’s rise as Kwisatz Haderach, a superbeing and a messiah with mental powers that would bridge space and time, born out of a breeding program led by the Bene Gesserit’s manipulations. It will also have a new Atreides member, the daughter of Lady Jessica and the late Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac), Alia Atreides, who will become a pivotal character going forward. Dune also left out details about Lady Jessica’s parentage, which will also be a big (for the film fans at least) reveal for the audience.
Dune II: The Cast
Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, c, Javier Bardem (as a Fremen leader Stilgar), Dave Bautista (as the Baron’s sadistic henchman Glossu Rabban), and Stellan Skarsgård will be returning to the second installment. Florence Pugh and Austin Butler are also confirmed to star in the sequel. Josh Brolin’s Gurney Halleck survives the attack of the Harkonnen in the books, so we can expect to see him reuniting with the rest of the cast.
While Pugh will be playing Princess Irulan, Butler is set to portray Feyd-Rautha.
Will Dune Be a Trilogy?
Villeneuve has also expressed interest in adapting Herbert’s 1969 sequel novel, Dune Messiah, into a third film, but only time will tell if we are getting just these two films, a trilogy, or a whole franchise out of this sci-fi series. If that does pan out, then Jason Momoa’s Duncan Idaho may have a way of being resurrected as a ghola, which were essentially clones. Paul’s vision of an intergalactic holy war being raged in his name, where the Fremen end up killing billions, belongs in Dune Messiah.
Given the reception Dune received, a trilogy doesn’t seem unlikely. For now, Dune: Part II is set to start shooting in July 2022 and is slated for a theatrical release in 2023. Legendary and Warner Bros have plans for an exclusive theatrical release on October 23, 2023, almost exactly two years after the first part came out on October 22, 2021.