In March 2024, the big-screen journey of Timothée Chalamet’s version of Paul Atreides will be over. Dune: Part Two adapts the second half of the famous Frank Herbert novel Dune, and, effectively concludes the journey of Paul from a wise teenager to Emperor of the Universe. And if the ending of the movie is anything like the ending of the novel, audiences will certainly leave with a clearer sense of closure than they got in 2021.
Or will they? Although Dune: Part Two will technically finish adapting Dune, there is good reason to think the film will have to foreshadow aspects of the next book, Dune Messiah — even if Dune Messiah is never made into a new film. With the release of Dune: Part Two fast approaching, here’s what we should probably expect to happen in the movie that teases the events of an as-yet-unconfirmed, Dune: Part Three.
Spoilers for the Dune novels ahead.
Paul’s terrible purpose
In Dune: Part One, Paul Atreides saw mixed visions of the future in which massive atrocities were committed in his name. While some of this foreshadows the Fremen overthrowing the Harkonnens on Arrakis, the literal jihad that Paul’s Fedaykin will carry out on other planets mostly happens in between the events of Dune and Dune Messiah. Because Messiah is set just 12 years after the first book, intervening political changes feel both recent and interestingly well-established at the start of the novel.
Denis Villeneuve has stated many times his intention to make a third Dune film based on Messiah — and some sources indicate that the project is already low-key greenlit for a 2027 release. Assuming Villeneuve continues his faithful-ish approach to the source material, it seems like the first thing Dune: Part Two would need to make clear is Paul’s terrible purpose and the brutality of his forces beyond the planet Arrakis. By the time the events of Dune: Messiah rolls around, Paul will have unleashed a terrible jihad that has conquered the whole universe and slayed 61 billion people, rendering him the kind of tyrant he once fought against. Dune: Part Three [Messiah] could get away with having most of the jihad happen off-screen (like the novels), but Dune: Part Two will need to set up some of that up for us to buy any of it.
Furthermore, the fact that Paul’s future visions extend to — well, the future — means that Dune: Part Two may need to give us more details about what he sees beyond the events of the first book. And if that happens, Dune: Part Two will contain Dune: Part Three information by default.
Paul’s flawed visions
Although Dune: Part One and Part Two both deal with the consequences of Paul’s prescience, things get even dicier in Messiah, and the third book, Children of Dune. The ending of Messiah rests on two aspects of Paul’s future knowledge that ultimately dictate the ending — his ability to “see” after getting blinded, thanks to his ability to “remember” the future, and the fact that one aspect of his immediate future is missing a bunch of crucial information.
Much of what Paul can and can’t see in the future of Messiah is somewhat convenient for the way the book unfolds. In other words, his prescience is vague enough to ruin his life but specific enough to let him fly an ornithopter blind. So why would Villeneuve touch any of this in Dune: Part Two? Well, because Part Two will see much of Paul’s visions come true, the only way to make his prescience seem even more ominous would be to tease things that happen in the next movie.
Essentially, if Dune: Part Two foreshadows Messiah with detailed plot points, Villeneuve and company can actually improve upon the original books in one specific way: The new Dune films can make Paul’s prescience slightly more comprehensible, and therefore, tens times as tragic.