Where Could the 'Dune' Franchise Go Next? The Books Only Get Weirder from Here

Denis Villeneuve may have completed his adaptation of Frank Herbert's first 'Dune' novel, but there's still enough lore to keep Warner Bros. busy for another half century.


Dune Messiah Is Up Next

With “Dune: Part Two” now playing in theaters, Denis Villeneuve has accomplished what many sci-fi geeks have long seen as an impossible task: making a competent adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” that treats the mythology with the cinematic gravitas it deserves. And now that audiences are more invested in sandworms and ornithopers than any reasonable person would have thought possible a decade ago, there’s no reason to think the “Dune” train should slow down any time soon.

The latest film concludes the story Herbert told in his original novel, but he went on to write five sequels that expand the world in wild new directions. And his son Brian Herbert has kept the saga going with an additional 20 books released over the past half-century. There’s enough lore for Warner Bros. to make “Dune” movies for decades to come, with or without Villeneuve and his key players. With “Part Two” dominating the box office after an $81.5 million opening weekend, it’s a great time to start thinking about what this sandy, spice-filled franchise could bring us next.

“Children of Dune” Could Serve as a Soft Reboot

“Messiah” ends with a blind Paul Atreides losing his power and opting to wander alone in the desert while his son and daughter take over Arrakis. A third “Dune” movie could provide an opportunity for Chalamet and Zendaya (and possibly Villeneuve) to pass the torch to another pair of up-and-coming movie stars without completely rebooting the franchise.

The third book, “Children of Dune,” sees Paul and Chani’s two children (named Leto II and Ghanima) growing up on a rapidly transforming Arrakis. Increased moisture has made the formerly arid planet considerably easier to live on, but the conditions threaten to wipe out the sacred sandworm population once and for all. As the planet undergoes yet another spiritual crisis due to its lack of leadership, the children square off against a new would-be messiah in their quest to take control of the planet.

Ecology is a primary theme throughout the “Dune” series, and the ongoing biological transformations on Arrakis directly shape the plot. Future movies would have a lot less sand, which would give a new director a chance to put their own stamp on the planet’s landscape. While supporting players like Rebecca Ferguson’s Lady Jessica and Momoa’s Duncan Idaho could return to ensure continuity, a “Children of Dune” movie would be a natural spot to take the franchise in an entirely new direction.

Things Only Get Weirder from There

“Children of Dune” is not exactly tame, but the series truly embraces its strangeness in Herbert’s fourth book, “God Emperor of Dune.” Paul and Chani’s son Leto II has turned into an all-powerful tyrant who is able to rule Arrakis for thousands of years by merging with the last living sandworm to become a human-worm hybrid. He rules with a truly unprecedented level of power, depriving his people of information or technology while he presides over a puppet legislature and keeps his planet in line with an all-female army known as the Fish Speakers.

A “God Emperor of Dune” movie would almost be guaranteed to be one of the strangest tentpoles ever released by a mainstream Hollywood studio. But in the hands of a skilled director with a knack for creature features and political drama, it could become the most iconic entry in the series by delivering something we truly haven’t seen before. And if audiences are still sticking around after that, the sky would truly be the limit for “Dune.”