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Dune: Part 3 - Denis Villeneuve has some ideas, and Paul Atreides isn't the hero

Like Dune author Frank Herbert did decades ago, Villeneuve wants to wrap the story of Paul Atreides

Image credit: Legendary, Warner Bros.

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Spoiler warning for Dune: Part Two.

The team of Denis Villeneuve, Legendary Pictures, and Warner Bros. have worked wonders wih the Dune duology. Turning one of the most complex high fantasy and science fiction universes into a grand-scale, well-reviewed cinemaic event is the kind of accomplishment usually reserved for once in a generation. Naturally, fans want them to do it again.

Fortunately, at least one memeber of that team would be on board. Speaking with Empire in October of 2023, Villeneuve confirmed that he had "words on paper" for a Dune: Part Three, and even unveiled where he'd be getting his inspiration - the 1969 sequel to Dune, Dune Messiah.

Now you might be asking, 'just what would this Dune: Part Three be about?' Well, we wondered the same thing, so ahead of the release of Dune: Part Two, we went ahead and took a stab at what Dune: Part Three would be like.

Keep reading to find out what we uncovered, but be warned: If you have absolutely no idea what's going to happen in Dune: Part Two, there will be some spoilers ahead.

What is Dune Messiah about?

Set 20 years after Paul Atreides wins the battle for Arrakis and becomes the Emperor of the Known Universe (told you, spoilers), Dune Messiah is about the man who has taken on the role of Muad'Dib struggling to contain the massive uprising he has inspired. Despite being worshipped as a religious figure by the Fremens, Paul still has enemies in the Houses of power he overturned.

The story that follows is one of conspiracy, assassination attempts, and internal conflict, as the love between Paul and Chani is tested by Paul's needing to produce an heir with Princess Irulan. Like Shakespeare with sandworms, Dune Messiah finds Paul getting what he wanted... and grieving for it.

Which characters are in Dune Messiah?

The history of the Dune universe is a long one, but the gap between Dune and Dune: Messiah is only a couple of decades. As such, there are plenty of characters that survive the span. Here are the major Dune characters that return for its sequel, in no particular order:

  • Paul Atreides
  • Chani
  • Princess Irulan
  • Reverend Mother Mohiam
  • Duncan Idaho

Along with these returning faces, Dune Messiah introduces new characters that I won't go into too deeply here for fear of spoiling too much. I'll just say this - look at the title of Dune Messiah's sequel and you can probably guess how they relate to the story.

What is the point of Dune Messiah?

In the Empire interview we mentioned earlier, Villeneuve says that "Dune Messiah was written in reaction to the fact that people perceived Paul Atreides as a hero [...] Which is not what [Herbert] wanted to do. My adaptation [of Dune] is closer to his idea that it’s actually a warning."

And he's right. Quoted in Thomas and Alice Clareson's Understanding Contemporary American Science Fiction: The Formative Period, Herbert himself expressed that "The bottom line of the Dune trilogy is: beware of heroes. Much better [to] rely on your own judgment, and your own mistakes."

But what does this warning mean for Paul Atreides and, by extension, Dune: Part Three if it were ever made? You're going to have to read the book for yourself - we're not going to spoil that much.

Dune: Part Two hits theaters March 1, 2024. Buy tickets on Fandango or Atom Tickets.

Need more spice (heh) in your life? Popverse has all the Dune coverage you could want. Let us tell you what sequels and TV show prequels are planned for after Dune: Part Two and how to prep for the next film with a Dune watch order.

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Grant DeArmitt

Contributing writer

Grant DeArmitt (he/him) likes horror, comics, and the unholy pairing of the two. He has written for Nightmare on Film Street and Newsarama, despite their better judgement. He lives in Brooklyn with his partner, Kelsey, and corgi, Legs.