Epic Dune 2 Trailer Finally Reveals The Most Powerful Character In The Universe

The Emperor is busting out his weapon of choice.

Christopher Walken in 'Dune: Part Two.'
Warner Bro./Legendary
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The ultimate power in the Dune universe has arrived. The latest trailer for Dune: Part Two has finally revealed Christopher Walken’s take on the Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV. And unlike previous cinematic versions of this character, this Emperor is fierce. In just a few brief scenes in the new trailer, Walken’s character is deeply frightening, which, tonally, makes this version of Shaddam IV even a bigger deal than he was in the books.

The new three-minute-long trailer for Dune: Part Two gives us a lot to chew on, but in terms of the big picture, the appearance of Shaddam IV (Walken) presents the biggest game piece in the chess game of the final act of Dune. Although much of the trailer is focused on Paul’s uneasy status as the new messiah of the Fremen — which promises to fill in the time jump from the novel — the endgame is 100 percent connected to the Emperor.

Dune:Part Two full trailer

Utterly absent in Dune: Part One, Villeneuve’s take on Dune favors Frank Herbert’s structure in the book insofar as the Emperor isn’t really seen in the flesh until halfway through the book. Although Dune: Part One told us the Emperor was aiding Baron Harkonnen in his attack on Arrakis, we never visited the royal court at all, until now.

In both previous movie versions of DuneDavid Lynch’s film in 1984 and John Harrison’s miniseries in 2000 — we met the Emperor and his daughter, Princess Irulan, much earlier in the story. Here, we’re meeting them when they become most relevant to the story. And crucially, Walken’s Shaddam IV is filled with more rage and jealously than we’ve ever seen in a Dune movie before. Though in the books Hawat feared the Emperor’s wrath against Leto, saying at the start of the book that “a popular man aroused the jealousy of the powerful.” We’ve just never quite seen that jealousy translated into anger in a Dune movie before.

Shaddam IV is not messing around.

Warner Bros/Legendary

In 1984, José Ferrer’s Emperor was basically a pawn of the spacing guild AND the Harkonnens, and at no point did you really fear him. In the 2000 miniseries, Giancarlo Giannini played him with more regret, echoing aspects of the novel in which Shaddam IV tells Irulan, he wishes she had been old enough to marry Duke Leto. As Irulan writes in Dune “...I remember deciding in that instant that my father secretly wished the duke had been his son, and disliked the political necessities that made them enemies.”

In the new trailer, Walken’s Shaddam IV is crueler than in the much of the book, and has no kind words for the deceased Duke Leto, rasping at Paul: “Your father was a weak man.”

Whether Shaddam is overcompensating for his jealousy of the dead duke, or whether we’ll see some past reflections of his hidden fondness for Leto remains to be seen. But, for now, one thing is clear. If anyone thought Christopher Walken’s take on Shaddam IV would be lost in political nesseceities that would make him seem distant and removed from the plot, this trailer sends one clear message. The Emperor might be doomed to be defeated by Paul, but he’s not going down without a fierce fight.

Dune Part Two hits theaters on November 2, 2023.

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