The Spice

This secret Dune 2021 character could be the Baby Yoda of Arrakis

Everyone is focused on Paul and Chani, but what about Paul's sister Alia Atreides?

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There's one pivotal Dune character who everyone seems to have forgotten.

Assuming Denis Villeneuve's Dune (2021) gets through most of the first Frank Herbert novel, there's at least one actor and character who has yet to be revealed in any trailers or promo chum released into the wild. Although the story of the first Dune book is ostensibly about the journey of Paul Atreides to become the Fremen messiah Mau'Dib, and the all-powerful Kwisatz Haderach, there's someone else who is super-pivotal to that journey...

It's his baby sister!

Depending on how you look at it, the character of Alia Atreides is either the Princess Leia of Dune or perhaps, more accurately, the Baby Yoda of the planet Arrakis. Here's why Alia's hypothetical appearance in the forthcoming Dune movie could change everything. Spoilers for the first Dune novel ahead. Speculation for the movie follows.

Alicia Witt as Alia in Dune (1984)

Who is Alia in Dune?

Throughout the first Dune, Alia is one of the book's biggest plot twists. Paul's mother, the Lady Jessica, is secretly pregnant with Alia when she and Paul are discovered by the Fremen in the deep desert of Arkais. After undergoing a ceremony in which Jessica drinks "the water of life," her unborn child is made into...well...a super baby! When Alia is born, she is fully aware all the memories of her ancestors, making her like a little tiny baby Time Lord. She can walk almost right away and has that creepy precocity that all magic, talking babies have in horror movies and other sci-fi.

Alia, as a super-toddler, is the person who kills Baron Harkonnen in the first Dune book. To be clear, the Baron is the big-bad of the first Dune, and in the film, will be played by Stellan Skarsgård in the new film.

Paul (Timothee Chalamet) and Gurney (Josh Brolin) in the new Dune.

Warner Bros

Will Alia be in Dune 2021?

As of this writing, there is no listing for a child-actor — or anyone else — to play Alia in the new Dune, meaning, in theory, Villeneuve is keeping Alia a secret for now. If the film only adapts one part of the book, it's possible that the action might not even get to the birth of Alia. It's also possible that Denis Villeneuve may not cast a child-actor as Alia, but perhaps go a different route, possibly even CGI. (To be fair, that's wild speculation.) At this point, we don't know if Alia will appear in the new Dune but, if it's a faithful adaptation of the book, she kind of has to.

Alia and Paul in Dune (1984)

Warner Bros

What would Alia Atreides mean for possible Dune sequels?

In the 1984 David Lynch version of Dune, Alia was played by Alicia Witt. In the 2000 SyFy Channel miniseries Frank Herbert's Dune, she was played by Laura Burton. In 2003's, Children of Dune, she was played by Daniela Amavia. There's a lot Alia can do after the events of Dune.

By the end first book, Alia no longer looks like a child, and eventually physically grows to resemble an "adult," even though, in her mind, she has the memories and personalities of several generations of her family. Essentially, she's kind of like several characters contained in one, insofar as she's not just Alia, but also the combined knowledge of both the Atreides and the Harkonnens. In this way, Alia's memories are kind of like the Trill in Star Trek canon, one person, various personas contained within.

After Paul goes missing at the end of Dune: Messiah, Alia becomes a Regent, effectively taking Paul's place as the de facto of the Universe. Like Paul, everything that Alia does as a ruler isn't exactly nice, but in the broad strokes, she's basically one the side of the "good" characters in Dune.

In terms of plot, Alia makes a lot of things actually happen in the latter half of Dune and throughout Children of Dune. The means that her influence actually extends beyond her brother's, because by Children of Dune, Paul isn't really even around.

Alia starts off as a cute and bizarre mystery and ends up being one of the most powerful and destructive forces in the universe. So, if Alia does appear in Dune 2021, prepare yourself. This super-baby is basically the queen of space.

She will most certainly give Baby Yoda a run for his money.

Dune (2021) is expected to hit theaters and HBO Max on October 1, 2021.

(Note: some readers have pointed out that Alia eventually commits suicide in the books. This article was speculating on her rule as a Regent before that happens. Also, a previous version of this article misspelled the name "Harkonnen" as "Harroken". The author blames a temporary spice overdose for this error.)

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