Star Wars Improves On Sci-Fi Epic It Steals From

By Zack Zagranis | Published

star wars dune

With the success of Dune: Part Two has come a new generation of would-be intellectuals who can’t wait to let everyone know, “This George Lucas guy stole like, everything from Frank Herbert!” The implication being that Star Wars is nothing but kiddie fluff compared to the serious sci-fi classic Dune. What no one wants to admit though is that Star Wars actually improved upon Dune—in many ways.

Luke Skywalker Is Much More Relatable Than Paul Atreides

lisan al gaib

To say that the book Dune is as elitist as its fans would be mean but sadly accurate. Frank Herbert’s books deal with people in power, Dukes, Barons, Reverend Mothers, etc. Paul Atriedes starts out as royalty and becomes a God, basically. Not super relatable.

Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker starts out as a nobody, a blue-collar farm boy on a planet nobody cares about. By the end of A New Hope, he’s a hero of the Rebellion, and that’s about it. He doesn’t become royalty or get people kissing his feet or anything.

Dune Deals In Abstractions, While Star Wars Shows The Actual Hardships

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Where Star Wars doesn’t hesitate to show us the actual people affected by the Empire’s tyrannical reign, Dune is content to use the masses as something the people in power are fighting over, a statistic or a commodity rather than real flesh-and-blood people. Star Wars is full of broken-down machinery, people breaking the law just to survive, and the grime and grit indicative of a galaxy in decay.

It has just as much to say about power and corruption, but it says it in a much more relatable way.

There’s Nothing Wrong With Simplicity

Relatable and, yes, simple, but is that inherently bad? Star Wars opts to go with the classic Good Guys vs. Bad Guys narrative, whereas Dune wants us to know that the Harkonnens are bad, and so is Paul, and so are the Bene Gesserit, and on and on. Anyone living in the real-world already knows that everybody sucks, do we need a book to tell us?

Star Wars, on the other hand, is a fairytale. It takes Dune’s evil empire and gives us an opposing force to root for. You don’t have to worry about Luke’s power going to his head and causing him to lead a holy war that will result in billions of lost lives. Is the GigaChad Rebellion taking on the Incel Empire a dumbed-down, black-and-white narrative compared to Dune’s complex political message? Yeah, and it’s more effective, too.

If you want more complexity, there are always the prequels with their trade wars and the fall of the Jedi. Even there, however, good guys and bad guys exist. That’s because Star Wars celebrates heroes, whereas Dune warns against them.

The Lovable Dork Hides Heavy Themes

Return of the Jedi

Don’t get us wrong, hero worship can become unhealthy—the cult of personality and whatnot. However, what George Lucas knew was that if you want to get your message across, you have to give the audience a relatable protagonist or a “hero” to follow on their cinematic journey. Luke Skywalker wastes time with his friends, drives a floating hotrod, and whines like a typical teenager. Kids relate to Luke in a way that they never could with Paul.

Luke Skywalker is so likable that by the time Lucas has him fully radicalized and part of a left-wing terrorist cell, we’re still rooting for him. When Luke Skywalker goes all ACAB and blows up the biggest police station in the galaxy, we cheer and clap. What true Star Wars fans know and Dune fans fail to realize is that Star Wars had some pretty heavy themes hidden behind the cool pew-pew lasers and the lovable dork main character.

Also… Lightsabers

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So yes, Star Wars did lift a bunch of stuff from Dune, but it arguably used those elements to tell a better, more relatable story. Oh, and it gave us lightsabers. The only cool tech Dune had was a suit that recycles your waste into water for you to drink. Lightsabers FTW!