What Happens in ‘Dune 3?’ Everything We Know About ‘Dune Messiah’

While “Dune: Part Two” completes filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel “Dune,” the film ends very much like “Part One” did: On a striking cliffhanger. Does that mean “Dune 3” is in the offing? Absolutely, but we may have to wait a while.

Herbert wrote six “Dune” books in all, then his son Brian Herbert picked up the mantle and continued the franchise with plenty of additional stories set in the “Dune” universe. While it’s unlikely we’ll get all the way to “Sandworms of Dune,” Villeneuve has made clear he very much wants to make “Dune Messiah” to close out his trilogy about Timothee Chalamet’s Paul Atreides.

So here’s what we can expect from “Dune 3.”

There will be a time jump

“Dune Messiah” takes place 12 years after the events of “Dune,” and Villeneuve has stated he intends to take advantage of the time jump to age up his characters.

The story gets dark

In case you didn’t pick up on it, the ending of “Dune: Part Two” was tragic. Timothee Chalamet’s Paul Atreides accepted his role as the “messiah” for the Fremen and chose to marry the Emperor’s daughter (played by Florence Pugh), which then set off a war with the other clans throughout the galaxy. In “Dune Messiah,” a “jihad” has been ongoing as the Fremen lay waste to non-believers outside Arrakis in Paul’s name.

Paul, meanwhile, has visions of a desolate future and hopes to set a better path for humanity, but he’s juggling a lot. He refuses to get his wife Irulan (played by Pugh) pregnant but is also unable to father a child with Chani (played by Zendaya in the films). This lack of an heir puts him in perilous territory.

It’s unclear how closely Villeneuve’s adaptation will hew to Herbert’s source material, but he’s already working on it.

It could see the return of characters who died

We won’t spoil it here, but there is a plot point in “Dune Messiah” that would involve the resurrection of a certain character who died in the first two “Dune” movies. Beyond that, expect Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Florence Pugh and Josh Brolin to return for “Dune Messiah.”

Denis Villeneuve has already started writing “Dune Messiah”

Zendaya in “Dune: Part Two” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

“The screenplay’s in progress,” Villeneuve told Vanity Fair. “I’m very happy where it’s going, but it’s not finished, and I don’t know how healthy it’ll be to go straight to ‘Messiah’ right away. It would be healthy to do something in between.”

The filmmaker also said he wants to take the time to make sure the “Dune 3” script is in tip top shape before moving forward. “I want to make sure that if we go back there a third time that it’ll be worth it, and that it would make something even better than ‘Part Two.’”

After co-writing and directing the first two “Dune” films back-to-back, Villeneuve wants to make something “different” with the third “Dune” movie, which makes sense because Herbert’s book is wild.

Villeneuve made changes to “Dune: Part Two” informed by “Dune Messiah”

One of the biggest changes from the source material in “Dune: Part Two” is the character of Chani, played by Zendaya. In the book, she’s a believer in Paul and has little friction with his quest for revenge. But in the film, Chani stands as a harbinger of the darkness that comes with Paul embracing his role as a messiah, openly questioning his command of the Fremen believers for his own selfish purpose.

“When Frank Herbert wrote ‘Dune’ and when the book came out, he felt that the readers misunderstood him,” Villeneuve told the A.V. Club. “People saw ‘Dune’ as a celebration of Paul Atreides, but for him he wanted the book to be a warning regarding messianic figures.”

To that end, where “Dune: Part Two” leaves Chani at the end of the film is a pretty significant setup for the themes that will be explored in “Dune Messiah”

Yes, Anya Taylor-Joy will be in “Dune 3”

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A surprise piece of casting for “Dune: Part Two” was revealed shortly before the film hit theaters: Anya Taylor-Joy as Alia Atreides, Paul’s unborn sister seen as an adult in a flash-forward.

Alia plays a major role in future “Dune” books and Villeneuve specifically cast Taylor-Joy for “Dune 2” in the hopes that she could return for “Dune Messiah” in a larger capacity. No spoilers, but Alia is a very big part of the future of “Dune.”

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