Of all the enduring science fiction universes, Dune is probably the most famous (or infamous) for being densely packed and super-specific with its world-building. It also has a reputation for being weird. But what is the weirdest stuff about Dune?
Turns out, the first book is fairly tame compared to stranger stuff that happens later in the series. The 1965 novel contains a detailed glossary and is loosely structured as a kind of massive historical document that the reader just happened to stumble upon. And, right now, that first book is getting the lion's share of our attention, mostly because we're all waiting to see Denis Villeneuve's two-film take on the first novel, hopefully, this December. (In fact, there's a rumor we could see a Dune 2020 trailer very soon.)
So because the two new Dune movies will adapt the first novel only, that means some of the weirdest stuff in the Dune universe won't make it onto the screen, unless of course, Villeneuve decides to play with some very interesting flash-forwards. Here are three of the most out-there concepts that happen in later Dune books that we hope get hinted at in Dune 2020.
And, just in case you've never read these books — but you've heard they are a little like Star Wars — each of these weird things will be elucidated using a Star Wars comparison.
Warning: Spoilers for the Dune books, and possibly the movies, ahead.
3. Paul becomes Last Jedi Luke in the second book
After Paul rises to power at the end of Dune, the second book, Dune Messiah, reveals that everything in the galaxy pretty much sucks since he became the Emperor of everything. Paul intentionally avoids becoming a space god, but at the cost of his literal and prophetic visions.
Star Wars analogy: In a sense, this would be like if, after A New Hope, the sequel to Star Wars was The Last Jedi and not The Empire Strikes Back. Yep. Dune Messiah turns its hero's journey hero into a desert recluse in the very first sequel. It took Star Wars seven movies to get there!
2. Duncan is like if Han Solo becomes an immortal clone of himself
There are a lot of funny names in Dune, but it's hard to think a name funnier than "Duncan Idaho." In the upcoming 2020 movie, Duncan is played by an unbearded Jason Momoa.
In the first book, Duncan is basically the biggest badass in House Atreides, and Momoa has recently described Duncan as "Han Solo-esque." But the weirdest thing about Duncan is that he is a side character who becomes, in essence, the only character to show up in all six of Herbert's original Dune novels.
Duncan's death happens in the first Dune novel, but he returns in Dune Messiah as something called a "ghola," which is basically a humanoid synthetic clone. (This is kind of like Picard's new synth body in the finale of Star Trek: Picard.) After Dune Messiah, Duncan becomes a "serial ghola," which means he doesn't actually retain all of his memories from previous incarnations.
Star Wars analogy: Duncan is a little like Han Solo in the first Dune, but if Han Solo lived like a weird clone of himself and tried to cause uprisings against an evil Emperor. In fact, the great irony of the later versions of Duncan is that almost all of them are at odds with a rowdy sandworm Emperor, who is, in fact, Paul's son, Leto II.
1. Paul's son turns into a giant sandworm
Born in Dune Messiah, Paul's son Leto II (named for Paul's dad) eventually decides to kind of merge himself with the biology of the sandworms, mostly because a prophecy tells him that a sandworm/human symbiote will help set humanity on what is called the "golden path." Most of this transformation happens in Children of Dune, and by the fourth book, God Emperor of Dune, Leto is a full-on Sandworm. In fact, he rules in this form for over 3,000 years.
Worm Leto's reign is mostly a peaceful one, but humans throughout the galaxy are also pretty boring and bored during his rule. At one point in the book, Leto has one of his Duncan clones in charge of a militia called the Fish Speaker Army, which is honestly, much more normal (and progressive) than the fact that Leto is a 3,000 year-old-worm.
Star Wars analogy: Leto's transformation into a giant Sandworm emperor is kind of like if instead of Anakin Skywalker becoming Vader, he merged with the Sarlaac pit and somehow ruled the entire galaxy with telepathic visions and breeding programs from Tatooine. This analogy would also require him to have a clone of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who would eventually betray him.
Leto's birth and eventual transformation and Duncan's status as a serial ghola are both things that will, in all likelihood, not even be mentioned or hinted-at in Dune 2020. And yet, if the two new Dune films do well, you can look forward to a lot of Jason Momoa in future Dunes, and at least one movie where he has to deal with a sandworm hybrid who is the son of his dead best friend.
Dune (2020) is expected to be released in December 2020.