10 key differences between Dune: Part Two and the book

From gender swaps to deep dives into power and revenge, get ready for a cinematic adventure that redefines the saga.

A scene from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
A scene from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Buckle up, Dune fans, Part Two just blasted its way into theaters and it's not your grandpa's Arrakis anymore.

This isn't just another stroll through the desert; it's a full-on sandstorm of variances from Frank Herbert's iconic tome - some things have been changed or flipped, with characters swapping genders faster than a Fremen dodges a sandworm, key players mysteriously vanishing into the dunes, and plot twists that'll make your head spin like you just inhaled a lungful of spice.

Forget what you thought you knew about Paul, Chani, and the gang. The movie's got its own game, turning Herbert's saga on its head to fit the big screen - very tastefully and perfectly executed, if I may be honest.

Ever wondered what Dune would look like with Hollywood goggles? Well, wonder no more! From a missing offspring that never made the cut to Gurney not getting his stabby revenge as he does in the book, Denis Villeneuve's adaptation has been as bold as a ride on a sandworm. Get ready to dive into the whirlwind of changes and see why Dune: Part Two is making waves (of sand, obviously) in the cinematic universe.


Let's spice things up (no pun intended) and explore the key differences that set this sequel apart from its literary roots.

(L-r) TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides and ZENDAYA as Chani in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Niko Tavernise © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

1. Absence of Paul and Chani's child

in the dusty, spice-filled world of Dune, where family lineage and heirs are as crucial as water, the movie said, "Nah, let's skip the baby drama." In a twist as unexpected as finding an oasis in the middle of the desert, Dune: Part Two decided that Paul and Chani's little bundle of joy, Leto, was better left in the realm of unwritten pages. By chopping the timeline, the movie aligns with the book's end, where little Leto is a no-show, sparing us all the complexities of diaper changes and sleepless nights on Arrakis. Instead, the focus zooms in on interstellar politics, sandworm rodeos, and, of course, that sweet, sweet spice. So, if you were hoping to see baby Leto making his cinematic debut, you might have to stick to imagining what could have been - or maybe he'll make an appearance in Part Three.

2. Paul Summons the Emperor

in the spice-soaked dunes of Arrakis, Paul Atreides, who's been chilling in the desert with his Fremen pals, decides it's time to crank up the drama. So, what does he do? He sends the cosmic equivalent of a "U up?" text to the Emperor, summoning him to the sandy playground of Arrakis. In a bold move that veers away from the classic script of the books, Part Two has Paul flipping the chessboard, calling out the big guy to face him on his home turf. In the book, it's not Paul who summons the Emperor to Arrakis. Instead, the Emperor comes to the desert planet with his own agenda, primarily due to the escalating situation and Paul's increasing power among the Fremen. This confrontation between Paul and the Emperor, along with all the political shenanigans going on, puts on display the intricate balance of power, loyalty, and strategy that defines the Dune saga. This game-changer of a scene not only puts Paul in the driver's seat but also turns the whole power dynamic of the universe on its head. It's not just a significant plot twist - this it's Paul Atreides dropping the mic on the galactic stage, showcasing his newfound power and setting the scene for an epic showdown.

3. Gurney's conflict

Gurney almost turned a "Who's the traitor?" game into a deadly reality show, starring Lady Jessica. Thanks to the galaxy's worst game of telephone, courtesy of the sneaky Harkonnens, Gurney's convinced Jessica's the ultimate Judas, betraying their space duke. So, he decides it's up to him to sort it out the old-fashioned way - almost leading to the most awkward "Oops, wrong person" moment in interstellar history. But wait, here comes Paul, swooping in like the voice of reason, hitting the brakes on Gurney's misguided vendetta. Crisis averted! It was a classic case of space whispers gone wrong, showcasing that even in a universe brimming with sandworms and spice, misunderstandings can almost lead to friendly fire incidents of epic proportions.

LÉA SEYDOUX as Lady Margot Fenring in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Niko Tavernise © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

4. Water of Life's role

Paul Atreides chugs down the Water of Life in Part Two, in hopes of embodying the Messiah status the Fremen and his mother have thrown at him. Paul's dive into the deep end of the spice pool is all about charting a new destiny, proving that sometimes, you gotta drink the weird stuff to find the way forward. Part Two focuses more on the circumstances around Paul's decision to drink the Water of Life and changes things up a bit, emphasizing his visions and the necessity of finding a new path instead of directly linking it to a threat to his mother as the sole or primary reason. This change in focus aligns with the movie's broader thematic exploration of Paul's destiny, leadership, and the unfolding of his prescient abilities, shaping his journey in a way that diverges from but still respects the essence of the original story.

5. Gender-swapped characters

Remember the rugged, tough-as-nails Fremen warrior? Shishakli, said warrior, just walked out of the Arrakeen fashion store with a whole new vibe, showcasing the power of flipping the gender script in the sprawling dunes of cinema. Taking a cue from Dr. Liet Kynes' transformation in Part One, Shishakli's switcheroo is like a fresh breeze over the sand, adding a sprinkle of modern flair to the classic tale. In the sacred texts of Frank Herbert's universe, Shishakli flexes those muscles as a dude among dudes, mingling in the background, a silent testament to Fremen might. Cut to the cinematic spectacle, and we now see Shishakli showcasing the fierce and formidable female power within the Fremen ranks, challenging the old guard and weaving a rich tapestry of diversity into the narrative fabric. This ain't just about swapping pronouns - it's a bold statement, echoing through the canyons of Arrakis, that heroes (and heroines) come in all forms.

6. Revelation of Jessica's parentage

The big reveal about Lady Jessica's family tree in Part Two is like finding out your quiet neighbor is actually rockstar royalty - but way more scandalous. In the sandy saga we all obsess over, the truth about Jessica's dad being none other than the galaxy's least favorite grandpa, Baron Harkonnen, comes out way differently than in Herbert's dusty pages. In the movie, Jessica takes a gulp of the Water of Life, and boom - it's not just any trippy trip; it's the ultimate family reunion from hell. Now, flip back to the book, where Paul's the one piecing together his family's murky past amidst spice-induced visions, way before Mom decides to chug the universe's most dangerous beverage. The movie's like, "Nah, let's save the big daddy issues reveal for a blockbuster moment," making us wait for that jaw-dropping plot twist that comes later in the timeline but is just as effective.

7. Omission of key characters

Let's talk about the VIPs of the book who got ghosted in Part Two. Thufir Hawat, our beloved Mentat and brainiac, who in the books plays a chess game of loyalty and deception under the Baron’s nose? Poof, vanished like he took a wrong turn into a sandstorm. Then there’s Harah, the fierce widow who becomes part of Paul’s entourage by the sheer force of tradition. She's nowhere to be found, leaving us wondering who's helping look after the kiddos and adding that extra layer of desert family dynamics. And Count Fenring, the Emperor’s sneaky sidekick with a voice so weird it could scramble a brain? Completely MIA, skipping out on the intrigue and those deadly assassin vibes he’s known for.
In the books, these characters add layers of complexity, loyalty tests, and palace intrigue that make the story as rich as a spice-filled dessert. But in the movie? It’s like they were written out of the script faster than you can say Muad’Dib. Streamlining the saga for the silver screen meant saying bye-bye to some of our faves, leaving us to fill in the gaps with our imaginations. Let's raise our crysknives to the lost heroes of Arrakis who didn't make the cinematic cut.

JAVIER BARDEM as Stilgar in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

8. Jessica and Paul's roles in the Fremen Messiah narrative

In the book corner, we've got Jessica, a cautious momma, worried about her son being hailed as the next space Messiah. She's like, "Hold up, let's think about this," trying to keep Paul's messianic sneakers from getting too dusty. But Paul? He's all about leveraging his supposed destiny, working that Fremen crowd like a pro, using every prophecy to his advantage. Then, bam - the movie throws us a curveball straight out of left field. Jessica's not just a worried mom anymore - she's the ultimate hype woman for Paul, pushing him into the Messiah spotlight. It's like she grabbed the Fremen by their stillsuits and said, "This is your guy!" Meanwhile, Paul's over there getting cold feet about the whole chosen one gig, a stark contrast to his book-self who was practically running for messiah of the year. This switcheroo layers on the drama, flipping their character arcs and giving us a fresh take on the whole "reluctant hero vs. ambitious mentor" trope.

9. Gurney's revenge

Gurney Halleck, our grizzled, guitar-strumming tough guy, gets a moment that's as satisfying as finding water in the desert in Part Two. With all the pent-up rage of a sandstorm, he finally faces off against the Harkonnen baddies and totally lets them have it. In a scene that's more electrifying than a shock from a Shai-Hulud, he delivers a stab of vengeance right into the heart of his nemesis. Now, flip back to the original pages of Frank Herbert's saga, and it's like we're on a different planet. The book gives us a Gurney who's tangled in plots thicker than Arrakeen stew, but his moment of revenge? Not so cut and dry. It's like Herbert decided to keep us wandering the dunes, thirsty for that clear moment of retribution. Gurney's grudge against the Harkonnens simmers through the pages, a slow burn in the vast desert of narrative, without ever exploding into the fireworks display the movie gifts us.

10. Focus on Paul's revenge and leadership

Dune: Part Two gave us a wild ride on the revenge express. We see that Paul Atreides isn't just your average desert boy turned reluctant hero - he's on a dark path of vengeance that makes the night on Arrakis look like midday. Paul steps into the sandy ring with none other than his own grandfather, Baron Harkonnen himself. But this isn't just a quick zap and goodbye - Paul's showing shades of Darth Vader here, with a "you messed with the wrong planet" vibe, making it clear that this Baron's about to expire worse than an out-of-date spice latte. In the original Dune saga, Herbert teases us with the complexities of leadership and the heavy cost of revenge, but the movie? It turns those hints into a neon sign, flashing "Darker Paul Ahead!" It's a transformation that's as shocking as finding water on Arrakis. While the book delves into the complicated dance of power, prophecy, and what it means to lead, the film straps that concept onto a rocket and launches it into a whole new universe of character development. Paul's face-off against the Baron in the movie isn't just about settling scores - it's a billboard for the leader he's becoming, and let's just say, it ain't all sunshine and rainbows. This is Paul Atreides, folks: Messiah, leader, and now, avenger extraordinaire, proving that in the dunes, revenge is a dish best served... sandy.

(L-r) ZENDAYA as Chani and TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides. in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

These changes (and others I didn't touch on) aside, Denis Villeneuve gave us a wonderful adaptation of Dune so far. I applaud him - transforming this behemoth of a novel for the silver screen wasn't just about shaving down pages; it was like he played 3D chess with the saga's soul.

Villeneuve's Dune is where the essence of power, revenge, and leadership isn't just narrated, but visually punched into your senses. This isn't just about making the story fit into a couple of hours - it's about diving deep into the characters' minds, spinning the narrative in such a way that even die-hard fans will be on the edge of their seats. Villeneuve doesn't just tell you a story - he grabs you by the collar and drags you through the dunes, making you feel the weight of every decision, the pain of every betrayal, and the surge of triumph with each victory.

It's Dune but dialed up to eleven, a cinematic ride through the desert that, sure, it's different, but it's as relentless as it is breathtaking.

dark. Next. I'm late to the party, but here's a Dune: Part Two review. I'm late to the party, but here's a Dune: Part Two review