Dune 2 Trailer Sneakily Reveals the Movie's Most Important New Character
Irulan might play a much larger role than we previously thought.
Denis Villeneuve has been taking his sweet, sweet time in adapting Frank Hebert’s Dune — even going so far as to split his hefty novel into two whopping films. Fans have been patiently waiting for the follow-up to his first installment, but Dune: Part Two is nearly here, and it’s bringing a host of new characters along with it.
Part Two will pick up right where Dune left off in 2021: on the desert planet Arrakis, with Paul Atreides enacting a plan of revenge against the forces that tore his family apart. House Harkonnen will again play a major role in the action, but Part Two will also introduce House Corrino, its leader, Emperor Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken), and his daughter, Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh). There’s much buzz surrounding the Emperor’s arrival, and while we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see Walken’s take on the character, the Dune: Part Two trailer just gave us an important new detail about Irulan.
Princess Irulan is understandably curious about the fall of House Atreides. Her father essentially orchestrated their destruction — and the death of Paul’s father, Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) — out of pure spite. Paul, his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and the rest of the great house are all presumed dead when Dune: Part Two resumes the action, but Irulan seems to believe otherwise.
Irulan is seen musing over everything that recently went down on Arrakis — and recording her thoughts, likely in an audio diary of some kind. This particular moment might not seem significant in the grand scheme, but it may just hint to an expanded role in the larger story of Dune.
Irulan is a major presence in most iterations of Dune. Her diary entries provide a fair amount of context in Frank Hebert’s original novel, and David Lynch even used Irulan (as portrayed by Virginia Madsen) to set the scene at the beginning of his adaptation in 1984. Given her proximity to the Emperor and, later, Paul Atreides — as well as her penchant for history and politics — Irulan is pretty much the perfect narrator. But Villeneuve seems to be taking that one step further in Dune: Part Two, by making Irulan the in-universe narrator of Paul’s story.
In a sneak peek with Vanity Fair, Villeneuve hinted towards a dire decline for the Emperor and his family line. As Shaddam IV’s heir, Irulan in particular has a lot on the line. “Her stake could not be higher because she’s afraid that her father could lose the throne, could lose everything,” Villeneuve explained. If Paul Atreides survived, as Irulan probably fears, it only confirms that war is coming to House Corrino. So why would Irulan dedicate herself to recording Paul’s story, given the threat he poses to her future reign?
As most fans of Hebert’s novels already know, Irulan will play an interesting role in the story to come. Without getting too much into spoilers, Irulan eventually joins Team Atreides, and later spends years recording the history of Arrakis for future generations. Said story is crucial to the legend of the Muad’dib, the messiah figure that most believe Paul is. As his power grows, his legend spreads, eventually reshaping the Known Universe in areas of religion, politics, and more.
If Irulan is the one recording this story, she’s at least partially responsible for Paul’s victory in the war for Arrakis, and much more. It’s a subtle choice for Dune: Part Two, but it’s also a brilliant one — one that synthesizes the sprawling story, and gives a little more credit to one of Dune’s most vital characters.