When David Lynch unleashed his version of Dune on an unsuspecting audience in 1984, the novel’s fans knew it would be weird. Frank Herbert’s best-selling novel, one of the greatest ever written, is incredibly dense, but it’s also the easiest of the franchise to adapt. That’s why, despite Denis Villeneuve’s success so far, he needs to stop at the third movie, adapting the second novel before the plot gets too bizarre for the general audience.
Great Novels Don’t Always Make Great Movies
Now, don’t get us wrong, Frank Herbert’s novels are among our favorites, and his son, Brian Herbert’s contributions have set the standard for how a series should go after the original author’s death, but starting from Children of Dune, it’s unfilmable. The third novel follows Paul’s (Timothee Chalamet in the new movies) children, his son Leto II and Ghanima, as they grow to become the rulers of Dune. Leto II merges with juvenile sandworms to stop the planet’s ecological decline, becoming a superhuman hybrid that will rule for thousands of years, and marries his sister.
A Sandworm Emperor
The fourth novel, God Emperor of Dune, is set 3,500 years after the end of the third, and now Leto II is mostly a sandworm with only a human face and arms. A despotic tyrant ruling through fear, humanity has stagnated under his rule, leading to a rebellion launched by his sister’s descendant (through a consort, not her husband, who, again, is her twin), Siona. It’s successful, ending in The Scattering, which sends humanity throughout the galaxy.
Time Jumps Of Thousands Of Years
Following the 3,500 years time-jump between the third and fourth books, book five, Heretics of Dune, picks up 1,500 years later. Another best-selling novel in the franchise, Heretics of Dune, deals with political machinations on different planets, expanding beyond Arakkis, renamed Rakis. To put it in perspective, George R.R. Martin wanted Game of Thrones to be unfilmable in size and scope, but he has nothing on the complex universe created by Frank Herbert.
Fans Worried Dune Was Too Complex To Be A Hit
Fans of Dune the novel were justifiably nervous when news broke years ago that Warner Bros was bringing the franchise to the big screen. Even today, following the success of the first movie, there are concerns on social media that the general audience won’t support Dune: Part 2. Those who have read the books understand how complex everything gets past the point of the second novel, which is likely why Denis Villeneuve has confirmed he’ll only go as far as three movies covering Dune: Messiah.
Warner Bros Can’t Get Greedy
In an interview with Time, Denis Villeneuve confirmed he’d be done after the trilogy, but that doesn’t mean the studio won’t try to keep the franchise alive. The loss of the visionary director who accomplished a miracle by turning Dune into a box-office smash should be the end. The problem is that this is the same company that decided to greenlight Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, pulled the script for Space Jam 2 out of mothballs, and is currently trying to reboot the Harry Potter franchise.
Go Out On Top
These days, it seems like nothing is allowed to end; whether it’s a hit movie or a best-selling video game, the stories must continue through multiple spin-offs and prequels. It’s okay for the Dune cinematic universe to end with a well-received trilogy and have that be the end of it. Fans want it to end, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to end on a high note.