New Dune 2 Trailer Fixes the Book's Most Underdeveloped Character
Zendaya is Chani.
In Dune: Part One, Zendaya’s Chani only had seven minutes of screen time. And in those scant seven minutes, she mostly appeared in the visions of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), beckoning to him and paving his way to the Fremen of Arrakis, with whom he would ultimately take refuge after the evil House Harkonnen destroyed his family. She would only appear in the flesh in the final minutes of Dune: Part One, saying a few words of welcome to Paul after he earns his place among the Fremen warriors.
But Dune: Part Two will finally give Chani the spotlight she deserves — and more. Director Denis Villeneuve has spoken about how the sequel will give Chani an expanded role beyond even Frank Herbert’s 1965 book, and the new trailer gives us a glimpse of how much more important she is to the grander scheme of the story.
The new trailer for Dune: Part Two alone gives us more Chani than we ever got in Part One. We see Paul and Chani’s romance blossom as they ready for war against the Harkonnens, with Chani comforting Paul as he suffers from more violent visions of the future. But even as she teaches him the Fremen ways and stands by his side as one of the fiercest Fremen warriors, the trailer introduces an intriguing conflict between Chani and Paul that hints at just how more important her role will be.
In a brief scene in the latter half of the trailer, we see Chani speaking passionately to a huddled group of Fremen, proclaiming, “This prophecy is how they enslave us!” Chani arguing against the prophecy — which we can assume is the prophecy that Paul is the Lisan al Gaib, the messiah who will lead the Fremen to freedom — puts her firmly against Team Atreides.
This adds an interesting wrinkle to Chani’s arc, which was underdeveloped in Herbert’s book. In the novel, Chani is Paul’s fiercest ally and warrior, but once she falls in love with Paul, her importance to the story is reduced to being the mother of his child. To make her an obstacle in Paul’s path, at least initially, elevates Chani to more than just a love interest, but a figure who holds as much authority and power among the Fremen as Paul. And the film seems to address Chani’s renewed importance head-on, with Paul explicitly telling her, “I would very much like to be equal to you.”
Dune: Part Two was always going to be a huge ordeal for Villeneuve to adapt — the second half of the book’s many time jumps and various unresolved political machinations make it hard to form a cohesive story. But by expanding the roles of Chani, and the Fremen in general, Dune: Part Two seems to be setting up an even richer adaptation of the epic. War is coming, and this time, we’ll care even more about the characters laying their lives on the lines.