Dune, Part Two: What to Expect From the (Uncertain) Sequel
Full spoilers ahead for both Dune the book and the movie Dune, Part One!
With Dune, Part One finally here, fans are naturally wondering when they can see Dune, Part Two, and what it will entail. Dune, Part One ends having only adapted roughly half of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, leaving much more of the story of Paul Atreides to tell in Part Two.
We’re going to do the best we can here to answer your biggest questions about Part Two and what to expect from it, starting with:
- 1 Dune, Part Two Release Date: When Is It Coming Out?
- 2 What Happened to Gurney Halleck and Thufir Hawat?
- 3 Dune, Part Two: Major New Characters
- 4 Dune, Part Two Story
- 5 How Much Is Zendaya in Dune, Part Two?
- 6 Is Chani Still the Daughter of Liet Kynes?
- 7 Who Are the Villains in Dune, Part Two?
- 8 Princess Irulan: Who is Paul’s Wife?
- 9 Alia Atreides: Paul’s Strange, Tragic Baby Sister
- 10 Lady Jessica and Baron Harkonnen Share a Secret
- 11 What Happens to Duncan Idaho in Dune?
Dune, Part Two Release Date: When Is It Coming Out?
“This is only the beginning,” Zendaya’s character Chani declares at the end of Dune, Part One.
Well, we’ll see about that. As of the time of Dune, Part One’s release, there is no release date for Dune, Part Two, and the film itself is far from a sure thing of even happening.
Production company Legendary Pictures and distributor Warner Bros. have yet to green-light Dune, Part Two. Director/co-writer Denis Villeneuve is bullish on the prospects for Part Two, telling SFX Magazine that Dune, Part One would have to perform “really badly” for a sequel not to happen.
Villeneuve hopes to know by December 2021 whether Dune, Part Two is a go and if so, he is aiming to start filming by late 2022. The script for Part Two, however, is not yet complete, with Villeneuve still writing it. Composer Hans Zimmer has composed about 90 minutes of new music for Dune, Part Two, which he has sent to Villeneuve to help inspire him while he writes.
WarnerMedia brass recently said in an earnings call that they’re happy with the $130 million the film has earned internationally so far, but that a greenlight for Dune, Part Two depends on “‘the entirety of what Dune can do for the company, including HBO Max.’” As Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studio and Networks Group, explained to investors and reporters: “The story in itself sets up for a sequel. The production is so amazing and the storytelling is so compelling that it’s not going to be judged on box office alone.”
Should the powers-that-be deem Dune commercially successful enough to warrant moving forward with making a sequel, let’s explore the story elements and characters from the latter portion of Frank Herbert’s novel that viewers should expect to see in the next film.
What Happened to Gurney Halleck and Thufir Hawat?
Did Paul Atreides’ (Timothee Chalamet) mentors Gurney Halleck (John Brolin) and Thufir Hawat (Stephen McKinley Henderson) die during the attack on Arrakeen? Both characters simply vanish from the story after the battle but the audience never sees them die. That’s because, in the novel, both characters survive the attack and should thus be poised to return in Dune, Part Two.
Gurney and dozens of his troops make their escape and become spice Melange smugglers while Thufir ends up in the clutches of Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard).
Thufir wrongly believes Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) was the insider who betrayed House Atreides and shut down the shield allowing the Harkonnen forces to invade Arrakeen. This is a falsehood Baron Harkonnen, whose men took Thufir prisoner after the battle, is happy to exploit knowing full well that the real traitor was Dr. Yueh (Chang Chen).
Replacing the late Piter De Vries as the Baron’s mental, Thufir plays the long game, trying to pit the Baron against his nephew and heir, Feyd-Rautha, among other angles. The Harkonnens have poisoned Thufir and withhold the antidote from him in order to make him compliant. Thufir’s heart and loyalty, however, remain with House Atreides, which he believes was fully destroyed.
This leads us to several new characters and storylines that are part of Dune, Part Two …
Dune, Part Two: Major New Characters
- Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen
- Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV
- Princess Irulan
- Alia Atreides
Dune, Part Two Story
There are several sequences and reveals from Frank Herbert’s first book that didn’t make it into Dune, Part One but could likely be worked into Part Two.
Obviously, to anyone with a passing familiarity of the first book in the Dune series, Part Two will cover Paul’s rise to power among the Fremen and his leading them in rebellion against the Harkonnens, the liberation of Arrakis, the overthrow of Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, and the installation of Paul as the new ruler of the known universe.
In the closing moments of Part One, Paul sees a figure riding a sandworm across the dunes of Arrakis, a hint at the Fremen rite of passage Paul will undertake in Part Two that further cements his standing among them. The Fremen will ride these giant, sacred beasts into battle against the forces of Baron Harkonnen in order to liberate Arrakis from the off-worlders who have plundered and persecuted them for so long.
How Much Is Zendaya in Dune, Part Two?
Dune, Part Two will see Paul develop a romantic relationship with Chani (Zendaya), who eventually bears him two children. But Chani, as Lady Jessica was to Duke Leto, will only serve as the royal consort and not become Paul’s wife. After his victory over his adversaries, Paul will take the Padishah Emperor’s eldest teenage daughter, Princess Irulan Corrino, as his wife for political reasons. (More on this later.)
Denis Villeneuve previously stated Chani will be the female lead of Dune, Part Two so we can expect Princess Irulan’s role to be a supporting part. She is described as a teenager in the novel and, given the passage of time in the book, one could expect the actress playing Irulan to possibly be younger than either Chalamet or Zendaya, whose characters will mature over the course of the saga. (They’re only supposed to be about 15-years-old in the novel at the time of the events depicted in Part One.)
Is Chani Still the Daughter of Liet Kynes?
One revelation left out of Part One is that Chani is the daughter of Dr. Liet Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster), the imperial planetologist who married into the Fremen. Given how different Kynes’ death is in Dune, Part One than it is in the novel, is it possible that the movie is jettisoning Chani’s relationship with Kynes altogether?
In the movie, Kynes is killed by Sardaukar troopers while creating a distraction to allow Paul and Jessica to escape, a noisy distraction involving a thumper that attracts a sandworm that then sucks them all into the sands of Arrakis. In the novel, Liet Kynes is a man and Chani announces she’s his daughter right from the get-go. Kynes still dies after looking out for the Atreides but he’s left without resources in the desert and dies as a result of a spice blow.
It’s curious why Villeneuve and his co-writers Eric Roth and Jon Spaihts would leave the reveal of Chani’s parentage to a sequel. Seeing as how the first film already established Chani as a guerrilla freedom fighter against the Harkonnens, it’s unclear how withholding the identity of her mother until Part Two would motivate her to hate and want to rid Dune of the Harkonnens anymore than she already was. Is Part Two going to flashback to supporting character Liet Kynes just to establish a reveal for some sort of emotional context for Chani before quickly moving on? As we’ll see, Chani will have enough to deal with in Part Two beyond mourning her mother.
Who Are the Villains in Dune, Part Two?
In addition to returning baddies Baron Harkonnen and Count Glossu Rabban (Dave Bautisita), Dune, Part Two will introduce two new formidable adversaries for Paul Atreides and his allies to contend with. Let’s start with this royal a-hole …
Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV
The ruler of the known universe, Shaddam IV — oft-mentioned throughout Part One but never seen — gave his blessing to the destruction of House Atreides because he feared their military might and that the popularity of Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) was a threat to his reign. Much of the palace intrigue and political machinations in the novel Dune revolves around trying to obscure the Emperor’s complicity in the attack on House Atreides.
(It should be noted that while most adaptations of Dune cast an older actor in the role, the novel describes Shaddam IV as only looking in his mid-30s despite being decades older, which should broaden casting options.)
In the end, Paul Muad’Dib defeats his enemies, deposes Shaddam IV, becomes the new emperor — and also marries Shaddam’s daughter. More on her in a moment.
This notable bad guy role in Dune, Part Two has not yet been cast. Most famously played by Sting in a leather Speedo in David Lynch’s 1984 film adaptation of Dune, the sinister and deadly Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen is younger and more dynamic than Lynch’s movie let on. He is Baron Harkonnen’s teenage heir apparent (referred to as the Na-Baron) who has been mentored in single combat since his earliest years. He has killed many gladiatorial slave combatants, often through treachery utilizing poison.
There’s no love lost between Feyd and his uncle but in the book, the latter reveals why Feyd still needs him despite once trying to have the Baron killed. The Baron bargains that Feyd will keep him around as an advisor while maneuvering to get him made not just the head of House Harkonnen but the next Emperor.
Feyd, like Paul Atreides, is the product of the Bene Gesserit selective breeding program. In the novel, Feyd is seduced by the witchery of Margot, the Bene Gesserit wife of Count Fenring, in the hopes of producing the Kwisatz Haderach. She later gave birth to his daughter, Marie.
At the end of Frank Herbert’s novel, Feyd and Paul engage in a ritual duel (kanly) where Paul manages to finally slay Feyd-Rautha. This climax would mirror that of Dune, Part One, which also ended with Paul winning a duel to the death.
Princess Irulan: Who is Paul’s Wife?
The Emperor first tried to arrange for Irulan’s marriage to Baron Harkonnen’s nephew and heir apparent, Feyd-Rautha, as part of his scheme to take down his rival, Duke Leto Atreides. This fell apart when Paul Muad’Dib and the Fremen overthrew the Harkonnens.
A marriage between Princess Irulan of House Corrino and Paul is arranged in order to legitimize Paul’s claim to the Golden Lion Throne and depose Emperor Shaddam IV. Like Paul’s mother Lady Jessica, Princess Irulan is trained in the Bene Gesserit ways.
While this arranged marriage ostensibly leaves Chani on the sidelines as Paul’s concubine, Irulan rwill be Paul’s wife in name only; his heart belongs to Chani. Irulan doesn’t bear Paul any heirs to the throne, while Chani gives birth to twins Leto II and Ghanima.
Irulan eventually authored a number of works chronicling the acts of Paul Muad’Dib that appear as epigraphs in Frank Herbert’s Dune. She is described in the original book as a tall, blonde, green-eyed beauty.
Alia Atreides: Paul’s Strange, Tragic Baby Sister
Lady Jessica was pregnant with Paul’s younger sister Alia in Part One but won’t give birth to her until the sequel. Part Two will see Jessica take part in the Fremen rite known as the Water of Life in order to become their new Reverend Mother. However, her unborn daughter is exposed to its properties in the process so Alia is born preternaturally powerful and aware. She matures quickly, her eyes bright blue thanks to her pre-birth exposure. Alia essentially has the mind of an adult in the body of a little child and is deemed an “Abomination” by the Bene Gesserit.
While we’ll skip the intense goings-on involving her later in the Dune saga, we should at least explain how she earned the moniker of Saint Alia of the Knife. Dune, Part Two will likely depict when little Alia kills Baron Harkonnen with the Gom Jabbar (the poisoned needle Paul was threatened with during his pain box test early on in Part One).
And here’s the kicker … Alia is the granddaughter of Baron Harkonnen. Making Lady Jessica his daughter!
The reveal of Jessica’s father happens in the novel in a scene that’s included in Dune, Part One but this specific bombshell is omitted from the movie.
When Paul and Jessica are inside their tent in the desert and he’s bemoaning the “freak” his mother has made him, Paul reveals she’s actually the Baron’s daughter.
Dune, Part One leaves this out, presumably to make the stakes against the big bad — and between Paul and Jessica — more personal in Part Two.
What Happens to Duncan Idaho in Dune?
Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa) gets a valiant death scene in Dune, Part One. So that’s it for Duncan … right? Not quite. It’s a very long, convoluted explanation but the truth is out there if you choose to discover it.
Do you think we’ll actually get Dune, Part Two? And, if so, who do you want to see play these new characters? Let us know in the comments!